College players begin their journey in the NBA

Calvin Darnell, Staff Writer

The NBA draft took place on November 18. This draft was historic as it was the first NBA draft to take place over video conference. The players were all sent boxes with multiple hats with NBA team logos on them and had cameras and NBA broadcasting crew set up in their homes. 

This year was one of the most highly talked about and most watched drafts in NBA history. However, there were, in fact, very few surprises. Millions of mock draft (a projection sheet that analysts make to predict who will be drafted to what team) were made and millions of trade scenarios were talked about. 

Oddly enough the most surprising aspect of the draft was the schools that the players went to. The notorious four “big blue” schools (North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky) had zero players drafted in the top ten. In fact, they only had four players taken out of the first round all together. Cole Anthony from North Carolina, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley from Kentucky, and Udoka Azubuike from Kansas were the only ones selected in the first round. This was the first time since the turn of the century that this has happened, not to mention the huge decline from last year. In 2019, four players were selected in the top ten alone, and nine total Big Blue players were selected in the first round last year.

Anyone could have predicted the first three picks as they were the consensus top three picks across almost all analysts’ boards. At number one Anthony Edwards from the University of Georgia was selected to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Edwards was almost the consensus number one pick as he displayed all the physical tools to be an elite defender at the next level as well as the shot to be a lethal scorer. Edwards dedicated the night to his mother and grandmother who recently passed away. 

The second pick was just as predictable for the Golden State Warriors who already have an all-star level player at every position but center. It just so happened that one of the consensus top three players was James Wiseman. Wiseman is an uber-athletic seven-foot, one-inch beast of a center. Wiseman, hailing from the University of Memphis, only played three college games before the NCAA accused him of taking money for recruitment. This obviously didn’t stop scouts from seeing his potential and overall ability. 

The third overall pick is probably the fan favorite of the entire draft. The Charlotte Hornets made headlines when they drafted LaMelo Ball, who skipped college to play basketball in Australia. LaMelo, the younger brother of current NBA players Lonzo and LiAngelo Ball, is a six-foot, nine-inch guard. He is very popular amongst the younger audience due to being in the spotlight since he was a freshman in high school. Due to being the younger brother of two NBA players, his family’s reality show featured young LaMelo a lot. 

The Chicago Bulls shocked most analysts with their selection at number four. The Bulls (to the chagrin of many Illinoisans) took Patrick Williams with the fourth overall selection. Williams surprisingly did not start a single college game but instead came off the bench. He is seen as having some of the most potential of any of the players in the draft. Though he has drawn comparisons to a young Kawhi Leonard, he is much more of a raw athletic prospect with a nice finish at the basket. Many believe it will be interesting to see if the Bulls can develop this young player. 

Rounding out the top ten were the following selections: Isaac Okoro from Auburn (Cleveland Cavaliers), Onyeka Okongwu from USC (Atlanta Hawks), Killian Hayes from Germany (Detroit Pistons), Obi Toppin from Dayton (New York Knicks), Deni Avdija from Israel (Washington Wizards), and finally Jalen Smith from Maryland (Phoenix Suns).

The most interesting pick seems to be Deni Avdija to the Washington Wizards. Avdija is seen as one of the greatest international prospects in NBA history. In fact, he was projected by most to be drafted to the Chicago Bulls at number four. For whatever reason, Avdija seemed to slip into probably the perfect team. The Wizards are a very strong team on paper but have always been missing something. They have great wings in Bradley Beal and Troy Brown Jr, and they have been developing some decent bigs in Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant. Not to mention, they just made a blockbuster trade sending franchise star John Wall to the rockets for Russell Westbrook. 

The rest of the first round is as follows: Devin Vassell from Florida State (San Antonio Spurs), Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State (Sacramento Kings), Kira Lewis Jr. from Alabama (New Orleans Pelicans), Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt (Boston Celtics), Cole Anthony from UNC (Orlando Magic), Isaiah Stewart from Washington ( Detroit Pistons), Aleksej Pokuševski from Greece (Oklahoma City Thunder), Josh Green from Arizona (Dallas Mavericks), Saddiq Bey from Villanova (Detroit Pistons), Precious Achiuwa from Memphis (Miami Heat), Tyrese Maxey from Kentucky (Philadelphia 76ers), Zeke Nnaji from Arizona (Denver Nuggets), Leandro Bolmaro from Spain (Minnesota Timberwolves), R.J. Hampton from Australia (Denver Nuggets), Immanuel Quickley from Kentucky (New York Knicks), Payton Pritchard from Oregon (Boston Celtics), Udoka Azubuike from Kansas (Utah Jazz), Jaden McDaniels from Washington (Minnesota Timberwolves), Malachi Flynn from San Diego State (Toronto Raptors), and the final pick of the first round was Desmond Bane from TCU (Boston Celtics). Good luck to all these future stars!