This isn’t a surprise, but Ohio State didn’t have anybody picked in the NBA Draft last night. If your team isn’t awash in five-star talent, and you had a crummy season, it isn’t a surprise that NBA scouts weren’t making a beeline to Columbus.
That’s now two NBA Drafts in a row without a Buckeye getting picked, with D’Angelo Russell being Ohio State’s last drafted player. Now, Russell, even with his trade to the Nets, is still a big draft success story. But for a program used to sending kids to the NBA just about every season over most of the last decade, back-to-back empty drafts isn’t great.
Obviously, the NBA Draft isn’t the most important thing for Ohio State. The Buckeyes could, after all, win a bunch of games, and even compete for Big Ten titles, without getting players picked very often. But, being able to sell an NBA pipeline is a big deal for recruiting, an obvious priority for Ohio State, especially as they try to pull their program out of decline.
So getting some players picked would help change that conversation a bit. Will the streak break next season? Who could be Ohio State’s next draftee?
KBD is probably the most draftable player on the roster who has actually played in a college basketball game. He has the recruiting pedigree (he was a high four-star player and a consensus top-100 recruit in his class), the size (he’s 6-7), and a specific skillset that can translate into what many NBA teams are looking for these days. An athletic player who can potentially guard multiple positions and hit a few threeballs is going to find himself in demand, after all.
There are questions, of course. KBD is an older prospect, he missed almost all of last season due to injuries, and he needs to demonstrate offensive consistency. But, with a big year at Ohio State, and if he can stay healthy, he may be able to play his way into the second round. One early mock 2018 mock draft has him penciled in as the 60th pick. There may be more.
Kaleb Wesson/Kyle Young
This is probably a stretch, but we can at least consider this possibility with a straight face. Neither player has played a college basketball game yet, and neither immediately project to be a one-and-done type of player, but with huge seasons at Ohio State, it’s at least possible.
Wesson and Young were the two top 2017 recruits in the state of Ohio, both high four-star players with interest from other major programs. Both should play real minutes for the Buckeyes next season, with Wesson having a clearer path to more playing time and touches.
Both will have plenty of questions to answer, not just about their NBA potential, but their ability to play big time Big Ten basketball. Namely, who are they going to defend? But, if not for next year’s NBA Draft, the raw potential is there for either of these young men to play professional basketball before their collegiate eligibility expires.
A player not currently on the roster
Other players on Ohio State’s roster right now would likely have to show some dramatic improvement to get on the NBA radar for the next season or two, and it is entirely possible that Ohio State’s next NBA draft pick isn’t even on the roster at the moment. The Buckeyes now have tons of 2018 scholarships to play with, and will pursue not only the top players in Ohio, but regionally and nationally. It might not be satisfying for Buckeye fans to hear, but it is entirely possible that Ohio State goes another year, or maybe even two, before their next pick.
With an entirely new coaching staff and relatively modest expectations for next basketball season, not having an NBA Draft pick in 2018 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But letting that streak get too much longer, especially as other Big Ten programs start sending more players to the NBA, could make the rebuilding project in Columbus even harder. Here’s hoping we hear some names called from the program relatively soon.