Some good collegians didn’t hear their names called on Thursday

1 Comment

With only 60 draft picks there are some talented players who won’t get to hear their names called on draft night.

And thanks to some teams preferring to use their second round selections on European projects they can stash overseas for a couple years, there’s bound to be fans up in arms over some of the players who aren’t picked.

Here are some of the surprises from Thursday’s NBA Draft, including a point guard who some thought had a shot of getting into the first round at one point in time.

1. PG Scott Machado (Iona)
Machado not being drafted was a surprise, especially when his hometown Knicks could have used some help at the point with pick number 48. But the Knicks went in another direction, selecting small forward Kostas Papanikolaou instead. All Machado did last season was lead the nation in assists per game (9.9), and for a draft that so many said was weak at the point guard position it’s bizarre that he wasn’t picked.

2. SF Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
Have to wonder if the fact that Jones played power forward for much of his time in Morgantown hurt his draft prospects. But the fact remains that Jones averaged 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, and there were more than a few people who felt that he should have been Big East Player of the Year.

Is he in some regards a man without a position at the next level? That can definitely be argued, but given Jones’ production it’s hard to believe that no one felt compelled to draft him in the latter stages of the second round.

3. PF Drew Gordon (New Mexico)
Gordon’s career may not have gotten off to the best of starts at UCLA but he was highly productive in two seasons at New Mexico. Gordon averaged a double-double both seasons, leading the Lobos to the Mountain West tournament crown and a five-seed in the NCAA tournament last season. Having averaged 13.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, Gordon’s going to warrant a long look for a summer league spot.

4. PG Tu Holloway (Xavier)
Holloway’s senior season was short-circuited in some regards by the brawl between the Musketeers and rival Cincinnati in December. But in spite of his (and Xavier’s) mid-season issues they still reached the Sweet 16. Holloway averaged 17.5 points and 4.9 assists per game, and he’s a tough floor general who can get his own offense while running a team.

5. SG William Buford (Ohio State)
Buford returned to school looking to redeem himself from his offensive performance in Ohio State’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky. But while he left Columbus as one of the school’s all-time leading scorers Buford’s shooting percentages dropped considerably, as he shot 42% from the field and 36% from three. If Buford can show himself to be a consistent shooter on a summer league team he could earn a training camp spot.

The good news for these players (and the others who weren’t drafted) is that they’ll get chances to prove themselves in the NBA Summer League.

While draft night is the “glamorous” way in which to enter the NBA, there’s no rule saying that an undrafted free agent can’t play their way in.

Plus, going undrafted allows players to find the situation that best fits their skill set while also giving them the best chance to make a roster.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
1 Comment

Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
1 Comment

Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

Eric Espada/Getty Images
Leave a comment

De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.