NBA Draft 2020: The Best from the Big Ten
Host Austin Groft and analysts Adam Sheetz, Matt McLaughlin and Jonathan Draeger discuss the NBA draft outlook for Big Ten players.
The Big Ten was in the conversation to set the record for the most teams from any conference in the NCAA Tournament. If March Madness happened, as many as 12 teams could have been selected to participate.
The Big Ten, being arguably the best conference last year, had NBA scouts all over the scene. This year’s NBA draft will feature Big Ten players looking to make an impact at the next level.
It is notable to mention that big names such as Luka Garza and Ayo Dosunmu have declared that they will play another year of college basketball. Both Garza and Dosunmu would have been top prospects in this year’s draft.
First Round Prospects
When mentioning the first round, the first Big Ten player that comes to mind is Jalen Smith. The sophomore out of Maryland stands at 6 feet 10 inches with a wingspan over 7 feet. Smith was expected to be a one-and-done but returned to Maryland for one more season.
He was one of the best shot blockers in the Big Ten, averaging 2.4 blocks per game. Although he was skinny entering college, he put on a lot of weight and is NBA ready. Averaging a double-double last season, he will make a great fit at the center position.
Xavier Tillman, the junior out of Michigan State, is your typical textbook player. He does everything right from making smart plays and playing great defense. He has a great attitude and is extremely physical, which is easy to notice with all the intensity he brings.
The biggest questions with Tillman are his offensive abilities. His greatest offensive strength is his screen setting. While teams won’t gain any offensive firepower from Tillman, he brings a lot of value that isn’t noticeable on the stat sheet.
Late First Round/Early Second Round Prospects
Cassius Winston, teammate to Tillman, had by far the most impressive collegiate career out of all the players from the Big Ten in this draft. The 2018-19 Big Ten Player of the Year has a high basketball IQ and looks to make his teammates better. The biggest question is his potential at the next level.
Daniel Oturu is another top center in this draft. Averaging 20.1 points per game last season, Oturu can do it all offensively. Scouts question his motor and defensive commitment, which is why he has dropped to second-round projections.
Late Second Round Prospects
Lamar Stevens is a Penn State basketball legend, finishing second all time in scoring. He has a solid size and body frame, but he shot 26.3% from 3-point range last season. He has the body for the NBA but needs to improve his shooting.
Anthony Cowan Jr. led his team in scoring his senior year at Maryland, averaging 16.3 points per game. He is undersized but is able to hit big shots. Still, he needs to improve his shooting, as he finished the season shooting just 39.3% from the field.
Kaleb Wesson is a great 3-point shooter with a long wingspan, but he lacks mobility. He loves throwing his body around for positioning in the post. His defense needs improvement too, averaging 4.3 fouls per 36 minutes in his 96-game career.
Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.