Vermont is the only state in the United States that has not had someone born here play in an NBA game, but there are a handful of guys and gals to play professionally and make their stamp on the hardwood.
With the 2020 NBA Draft coming up on Wednesday, let’s take a look back at some of those Vermont hoop legends of the past.
Rutland’s own Jim McCaffrey was a sixth round selection by the Phoenix Suns in 1986.
While he never played an NBA game, he left his mark at Rutland High, Saint Michael’s and Holy Cross, where he reached the 1,000-point plateau at all three programs.
McCaffrey played professionally in two leagues, most notably with the Continental Basketball Association’s Cincinnati Slammers in 1987-88.
McCaffrey appeared in a television commercial for Nestle Crunch with NBA star Larry Bird.
He’s a member of the Holy Cross and New England Basketball hall of fame.
The late Fred Beretta was born in Proctor in 1917 and eventually made his way to the Midwest where he became an Indiana hoops legend.
He was a two-year starter at Bedford High School, before becoming an all-American at Purdue University.
Beretta went on to play for the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in the National Basketball League, before entering the service. That league was one of the forerunners of the NBA.
Keith Cieplicki was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the middle of their Showtime Era in 1985.
He was the first Vermonter to score 2,000 points in high school, playing for Rice and his father Bernie. He was an all-league player at William and Mary.
After his playing career, he got into coaching where he found success at Rice, the University of Vermont and Syracuse University. He was inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
While there’s never been a Vermont-born man to make it to the NBA, there has been a woman in the WNBA. That distinction belongs to Nicole Levesque.
Levesque graduated from Mount Anthony, where she led the Patriots to Division I state titles in 1988 and 1989. She went on to play at Wake Forest, setting multiple records with the Demon Deacons.
In the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997, she signed with the Charlotte Sting playing in 27 games, starting 21 of those, while averaging 4 points per game.
Tyler Coppenrath played in the Summer League with the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, but made a name for himself overseas in Europe.
He began his overseas career with Greece’s AEK Basketball Club in 2005 and bounced around Europe, before finishing up his career with Spanish club UBU Tizona in 2015.
In his collegiate career at University of Vermont, he averaged more than 20 points per game in three of his four seasons. He led UVM to three straight America East titles and his name litters the Catamount record books.
The late Larry Killick was drafted 10th overall by the Basketball Association of America’s Baltimore Bullets in 1947. He played in exhibition games with the team, but never played a professional game.
Killick went on to play semi-professional basketball with the Glens Falls Commodores.
He had a decorated career at Burlington High and UVM and also served the country in the Marines. He was a UVM Athletics and New England Basketball hall of famer and went into the Vermont Sports hall in 2018.
Matt Johnson had just one year of professional hoops experience playing for Ireland’s Queen’s Strongbow in the 1994-1995 season.
The BFA-St. Albans product coached at Proctor High School before his professional run and coached at UVM, Peoples Academy and Burlington High since then. With the Seahorses, he won four state titles.
These days Johnson is coaching Jefferson County High in Tennessee.
Brendan Lane was born in Montpelier, but made his hoops mark across the country in California.
Playing his college ball at UCLA and Pepperdine, he eventually found his way overseas, where he played in Japan and Germany.