Success on the court in college basketball doesn't necessarily guarantee that a given team is full of potential NBA caliber players. That truism will likely be reinforced once again on June 23, when the NBA holds its annual draft. Despite placing a record 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament, having three teams that did not lose a single out of conference game, and the eventual national champion, the Big East is likely to have very few players taken on draft night. With that being said, here are the likely candidates from Big East schools to hear their names called on draft night.
Kemba Walker - PG - Connecticut
He didn't win Big East or National Player of the Year honors, but by year's end, the relatively tiny point guard had won the nation's respect. Walker led UConn to five wins in five days to win the Big East Tournament in thrilling fashion and followed it up by leading the Huskies to a national championship. Walker is guaranteed to go in the top seven picks, and various mock drafts have him going as high as fifth to the Toronto Raptors and as low as seventh to the Sacramento Kings. The projection of seventh seemed to be the outlier of the mock drafts reviewed. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Duke's Kyrie Irving and Kentucky's Brandon Knight will be the point guards selected before Walker, but that there's very little chance Walker slips all the way to seventh. Esepcially since there were reports today that the Portland Trailblazers are exploring ways of trading up earlier into the draft to get Walker.
Marshon Brooks - SG - Providence
Brooks played on a pitiful Providence team that was unraveling in the final weeks of the failed Keno Davis era as head coach. The Friars' struggles didn't stop Brooks from standing out individually. Brooks was named first team all Big East after averaging 24.6 points and seven rebounds per game for the season. Although often overlooked due to the teams' struggles, Brooks grabbed headlines after scoring 43 points in a close loss to Georgetown, and then erupting for 52 points in yet another close loss to Notre Dame. Brooks size (6'5) and ability to get his own shot make him a legitimate NBA shooting guard option for teams drafting towards the middle and end of the first round. Once again, the mock drafts are split. Brooks is definitely going to go in the first round, the only question is will the Bobcats grab him with the 19th pick, or will he last until an aging team that needs a young scorer like Boston take him with the 25th pick. Wherever he wins up, Brooks should have a solid NBA career ahead of him.
Possible Second Rounders
There seems to be a consensus that Marquette forward Jimmy Butler and Notre Dame guard Ben Hansbrough will be selected somewhere in the second round, but, unlike the NFL draft, the second round of the NBA Draft is remarkably hard to predict. NBA Draft.net predicts Hansbrough going to Sacramento with the 60th and final pick and Butler going right before him to San Antonio with the 59th pick. Draft Express is more optimistic about Butler's prospects, projecting him to go with the second pick of the second round to Cleveland.