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The 1961 NBA draft was the 15th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on March 27, 1961, before the 1961-62 season. In this draft, nine NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. In each round, the teams select in reverse order of their win-loss record in the previous season. Before the draft, a team could forfeit its first-round draft pick and then select any player from within a 50-mile radius of its home arena as their territorial pick. An expansion franchise, the Chicago Packers, were assigned the first pick of the first round and the last pick of each subsequent round, along with five extra picks at the end of the second round. The draft consisted of 15 rounds comprising 107 players selected.
Three other players from this draft, 7th pick Tom Meschery, 21st pick Don Kojis and 32nd pick Bill Bridges, have also been selected to at least one All-Star Game.Doug Moe, the 22nd pick, never played in the NBA. His contract with the Packers was voided due to his suspected involvement in the college basketball point shaving scandal. He eventually played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) for five years. He won the ABA championship in 1969 and was selected to three ABA All-Star Games and two All-ABA Teams. After his playing career, he became a head coach. He coached four NBA teams and won the Coach of the Year Award in 1988 with the Denver Nuggets.Ray Scott, the 4th pick, played for the Detroit Pistons for five and a half seasons before he moved on to play with two other teams in the NBA and ABA. After retiring as a player in 1972, he immediately became a head coach. He coached the Pistons for three and a half seasons and won the Coach of the Year Award in 1974. Two other players drafted also went on to have a coaching career: 12th pick Johnny Egan and 60th pick Donnie Butcher.
^1: Tom Meschery (formerly Tomislav Mescheryakov) was born in Harbin, Manchuria (now part of China) to Russian parents. He moved to the United States at the age of 8 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.