NBA Draft 2020: The Best from the Big Ten

Audio/Story posted November 15, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Austin Groft

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

About the Contributors

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Matthew McLaughlin

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Matthew “Matt” McLaughlin is a freshman from Abington, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is a writer and analyst in all three departments for CommRadio. He’s been featured as an analyst on live shows such as Daylate Tailgate, State College Saturdays and Hail Mary.

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Adam Sheetz

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Adam Sheetz is a third year student from Reedsville, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism. He has been a broadcaster for WCHX 105.5 FM in Mifflin County covering high school sports. He has also been a member of CommRadio since his first semester at Penn State, being involved in both the Arts and Sports departments. Adam has extensive experience in a play-by-play setting within CommRadio, covering football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball for the station. He has done written content for CommRadio ranging from Penn State football articles all the way to discussing Disney Channel movies. To contact Adam, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Jonathan Draeger

Third Year / Broadcast Journalism

Jonathan “Jon” Draeger is a third-year student from Butler, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State University. He is the Production Director for CommRadio, alongside his work as a broadcaster and producer for the Sports department and insider for Penn State Men’s Basketball. Jon also works on the “After The Whistle” live show. He was apart of the social media and on-field entertainment crew for the Butler Bluesox in the summer of 2021 and worked as a Broadcast Intern for the Saugerties Stallions of the PGCBL in the summer of 2022. If you would like to contact him, you can do so at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Austin Groft

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Austin Groft is a senior student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is a play-by-play announcer for CommRadio and Big Ten Plus. Austin also is a reporter for the Centre County Report and After the Whistle. To contact Austin, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).