College basketball underclassmen who entered their name in the NBA Draft had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to declare whether or not they were staying in the draft or pulling out and returning to their college teams.
So, the final count on the 11 Big Ten underclassmen who tested the NBA waters: Seven are staying in the draft pool. And four very wisely are going back to college lest they find themselves playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants or the Maine Red Claws next season.
The four smart guys: Moe Wagner of Michigan, Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards of Purdue and Robert Johnson of Indiana.
That means Indiana’s James Blackmon, O.G. Annunoby and Thomas Bryant, Michigan’s D.J. Wilson, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Ohio State’s Trevor Thompson all will be available when NBA teams sit down to make their selections on June 22.
How many of those guys will actually be drafted? Not many. The latest mock draft from nbadraft.net has Wilson going to Orlando with the 25th pick in the first round. It projects Swanigan to be chosen by Atlanta with the first pick of the second round and Annunoby going to Philadelphia with the 39th overall pick.
And that’s it. Very few draft experts think Trimble, Bryant, Blackmon and Thompson will be drafted.
It’s further confirmation that college success has very little to do with how players are viewed by the NBA. Wilson wasn’t even honorable mention All-Big Ten and Annunoby missed much of last season with a knee injury.
Swanigan is one of a batch of consensus All-Americans currently projected to wait until the second round before hearing their names called. The same is true of Villanova’s Josh Hart, Kansas’ Frank Mason, Iowa State’s Monte Morris and Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss.
By the way, none of the top Big Ten seniors in the draft — Peter Jok, Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Derrick Walton Jr., Malcolm Hill — show up in the nbadraft.net projections either. They all should at least get a shot as unsigned free agents with an NBA club, but you could very well see most of them playing next season in the NBA Developmental League in a place like Fort Wayne or Maine, or somewhere overseas.