With Monday’s news of Anthony Lamb signing with the Detroit Pistons, the former University of Vermont men’s basketball star is hoping to become the first player in program history to play in an NBA regular-season game.
Vermont natives, too, have yet to log their first minute against the world’s best hoopsters.
But Catamount alums and Vermonters have come close over the years. After relying on the work of Burlington resident Matt Moore and diving through the Free Press archives, here’s a rundown of Vermont-connected players who had brushes with the NBA.
Editor’s note: I defined this list based on those who played their high school ball in Vermont or went to a Vermont college. Players from Vermont Academy, the powerhouse prep school in Saxtons River, are not included. But recent alums Jordan Nwora (2020 second-round pick) and Bruce Brown (third-year NBA player, current Brooklyn Net) showcase the school’s strength and profile.
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Larry Killick, Burlington/UVM
A star high school player who led Burlington to the 1941 Class L state championship, Killick continued his success at UVM, a Catamount career interrupted when he served in the Marines and when he helped Dartmouth reach the 1944 NCAA title game. He guided UVM to a school-record 19 wins in 1946-47, a mark not broken until 2002, and graduated with the most points in program history (735).
After UVM, Killick was selected 10th by the Baltimore Bullets in the first round of the 1947 Basketball Association of America draft, the precursor to the NBA. Killick never suited up for the Bullets and rejoined the Marines during the Korean War, according to a Florida Today profile that ran in the Free Press on July 9, 2000.
Killick, picked 25th on Sports Illustrated’s list of top 50 Vermont athletes of the 20th century, died in 2013 at the age of 90. You can read more on Killick on his Vermont Sports Hall of Fame bio page.
Bob Jake, UVM
The other half of UVM’s 1-2 scoring punch with Killick, Jake was a medical student with eligibility after World War II. And like Killick, Jake was picked by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1947 draft. Jake was selected in the second round, 16th overall, but did not play.
Tom Hart, Middlebury College
The 1956 Middlebury graduate averaged 29.5 rebounds a game in his final two collegiate seasons, an NCAA record, before a five-year professional career. Hart attended the St. Louis Hawks’ training camp in 1956 but did not earn a roster spot.
Richard Tarrant, St. Michael’s College
The only first-team All-American in St. Michael’s history, Tarrant helped the Purple Knights reach the Division II Final Four in 1965, his final season at the Colchester school. Tarrant averaged 25.2 points and 13.3 rebounds per game in his college career.
Before co-founding IDX Systems Corporation in 1969, Tarrant was a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1965 NBA Draft. But Tarrant, after a three-week preseason stint, was released. Boston went on to capture a record eighth straight NBA Finals.
In 2018, Tarrant and his wife, Deb, donated $15 million to help fund UVM’s new sports arena, the Tarrant Center.
Richard Falkenbush, SMC
After scoring 1,431 career points at St. Michael’s College, Falkenbush was picked in the ninth round of the 1967 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks. Falkenbush, though, was cut after a week of training camp that June.
A decade later, Falkenbush took over the Burlington boys basketball program and led the Seahorses for 20 seasons, winning the 1996 Division I crown.
Keith Cieplicki, Rice/William & Mary
A member of Vermont’s most recognizable basketball family, Cieplicki was the state’s first high school player to crack the 2,000-point career mark, doing so at Rice Memorial before the advent of the 3-point line.
After a standout career at William & Mary, where he tallied 1,812 points, Cieplicki was picked in the seventh round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cieplicki was cut after a short stint in the Lakers’ training camp and summer league. Slotted 48th on Sports Illustrated’s list of the top 50 Vermont athletes of the 20th Century, Cieplicki went on to a long coaching tenure, notably leading the UVM and Syracuse women’s basketball programs.
Jim McCaffrey, Rutland/SMC
A prolific scorer at Rutland High School, St. Michael’s and Holy Cross, scoring more than 1,000 points at each school, McCaffrey was drafted in the sixth round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns.
Soon after, the Suns cut McCaffrey, who also had a short stint that summer with the Boston Celtics. McCaffrey was inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bruce Dalrymple, St. Johnsbury
The Manhattan-born Dalrymple guided St. Johnsbury to back-to-back Division I titles in 1981 and 1982, the latter with a tournament-record 55-point effort in the final. After St. Johnsbury’s stunning title-game loss to Middlebury the next year, Dalrymple went on to a standout career at Georgia Tech. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with teammate Mark Price in 1985.
The Phoenix Suns selected Dalrymple in the second round of the 1987 NBA Draft, 46th overall. But Dalrymple did not make the Suns’ roster.
Kevin Roberson, UVM
Following his UVM graduation in 1992, the late, great Roberson appeared in seven exhibition games before becoming the last cut at the Charlotte Hornets’ training camp. Roberson earned another invite the following year but he was killed by a drunk driver in May 1993.
Roberson produced a legendary career in Burlington, earning conference player of the year honoras a senior. The America East Conference posthumously named the award in his honor.
Trevor Gaines, UVM
Scoring over 1,000 career points and graduating in 2002 with the third most rebounds in program history, the 6-foot-7 Gaines was among 18 players invited to a five-day camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though, Gaines did not make Minnesota’s summer league roster.
A leader who helped build the foundation to UVM’s golden era, Gaines died tragically in 2010, collapsing on a basketball court in Las Vegas. He was 29.
T.J. Sorrentine, UVM
After his “From the Parking Lot” March Madness moment in 2005, Sorrentine played in the NBA summer league with the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. The following year, Sorrentine, third in UVM history with 2,013 points, suited up for the NBA’s development league.
This winter, Sorrentine enters his 10th season as Brown’s associate head coach.
Taylor Coppenrath, St. Johnsbury/UVM
Ahead of the 2005 NBA Draft, countless Vermonters and fans of Coppenrath were pulling for his name to be called. Alas, Coppenrath, a three-time America East player of the year with 2,442 career points, went undrafted.
Coppenrath did earn preseason invites with the Boston Celtics in 2005 and with the Indiana Pacers in 2006 but the West Barnet native opted for a career overseas, which turned into a lucrative and successful decade-long run in Greece and Spain.
Marqus Blakley, UVM
The high-flying Blakely, a two-time America East player of the year, went undrafted in 2010 but signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. Blakely played in a handful of preseason games but was cut two days before the regular-season opener. He then saw action in the NBA’s development league that winter before latching on with the Houston Rockets.
Blakely was on the roster and sat on the bench for Houston’s regular-season finale in 2011 yet did not enter the game. Blakely has gone on to a starring professional career elsewhere, including in the Philippines and currently in Japan, according to UVM.
Trae Bell-Haynes, UVM
The lightning-quick guard who drove the Catamounts to an undefeated league season and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017, Bell-Haynes graduated in 2018 with a pair of America East player of the year nods.
After UVM, Bell-Haynes participated in five games for the Milwaukee Bucks’ summer league squad. Bell-Haynes currently plays professionally in Germany.