The 2023 NBA Draft will take place tonight in Brooklyn, and at least one Buckeye will join the professional ranks. After one season in Columbus, Brice Sensabaugh should be drafted at some point in the back half of the first round, which will likely put him on a team that made the NBA playoffs this year.
Along with finding out where Sensabaugh will be starting his NBA career, Ohio State’s first round pick from last year, Malaki Branham, will get a new teammate that is being talked about as a possible generational talent.
The next Buckeye drafted
When Sensabaugh is drafted tonight, he will become the 56th Ohio State player selected in the NBA Draft since 1947. The first Buckeye to be drafted was Jack Underman by the St. Louis Bombers with the seventh overall pick. Even though he was drafted by St. Louis, Underman would never play in the NBA. The last Ohio State alums to be picked were Malaki Branham, who was selected with the 20th pick last year, followed by E.J. Liddell, who the New Orleans Pelicans announced as the 41st overall pick.
Even though nothing is set in stone, it sounds like Sensabaugh is going to be a first round selection in this year’s draft, which would make him the 26th Ohio State player picked in the first round of the NBA Draft. A couple teams that could draft Sensabaugh later in the first round are the Sacramento Kings with the 24th pick, or the Los Angeles Clippers with the 30th pick.
Sacramento would be a fun team to see Sensabaugh suit up for since they have tons of young, exciting players already. The Clippers might not quite have the depth, but they do have two all-star caliber players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
What makes Sensabaugh such an attractive prospect is his ability to put points up in a hurry. The one-and-done forward averaged 16.3 points per game in his only season in Columbus, and when you go to his scoring average per 40 minutes, that number comes in at 27 points per game. Sensabaugh made 48.2 percent of his field goals and shot 40.5 percent from three-point range.
Not only was Sensabaugh third nationally in scoring amongst true freshmen, he became the first freshman to lead Ohio State in scoring since D’Angelo Russell accomplished the feat in 2015. Russell would go on to be picked second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers.
We would likely be hearing Sensabaugh’s named called earlier tonight if he hadn’t had to undergo knee surgery at the the end of the season. Sensabaugh missed the final two games Ohio State played in the Big Ten Tournament after he suffered a knee injury that required surgery. NBA teams could shy away from drafting Sensabaugh earlier in the draft because he had two other knee surgeries in high school.
If Sensabaugh can stay healthy at the professional level, teams that pass on him could find themselves regretting the decision, since many believe Sensabaugh is a top-20 talent in this year’s draft.
Could another Ohio State player be selected tonight?
Another Buckeye that will be hoping to hear his name called tonight is Justice Sueing. Even though it seems unlikely Sueing is drafted, he has worked out for a number of teams over the last few weeks, so there will be interest in Sueing as an undrafted free agent if a team doesn’t pick him tonight.
After starting his college career at Cal, Sueing transferred to Ohio State, where he played 68 games over three seasons.
What could make Sueing an interesting option for teams, whether it be in the draft or as a free agent, is his versatility, along with his maturity. Sueing has the ability to do a little bit of everything on the court, and his experience at the college level could pair well with some younger rookies teams bring in.
Sueing will probably have to make some noise at the NBA Summer League, and will likely see his professional career start in the NBA G League, where he can still get floor time and is just a phone call away from the NBA.
Last year’s Ohio State first round pick getting some big time help
Malaki Branham was taken by the San Antonio Spurs with the 20th overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Branham had a solid first season with the Spurs, appearing in 66 games and averaging 10.2 points per game. Following a slow start to his rookie year, Branham really found his legs in the second half of the season. After averaging no more than 7.8 points per game in any month through January, Branham averaged at least 11.5 points per game in the last three months of the season, with his best month of play coming in February when he averaged 16.8 points per game.
San Antonio dealt with a lot of injuries last season that were both a gift and a curse. The injuries the Spurs had to work through hurt the team on the court, as evidenced by Gregg Popovich’s squad having one of the worst records in the league. The upside is the injuries allowed the team to get an extended look at Branham, especially in the second half of the season. By showing the ability to hold his own at the professional level, Branham stated his case as a player to watch over the next few years.
The Spurs hold the first pick in tonight’s draft, and they are going to draft 7-foot-4 Victor Wembanyama, who is 19 years old. Wembanyama has tremendous length and athleticism, which has been on display for Metropolitans 92 in France this year. There was an obvious jump in Wembanyama’s play on the court this season, as he averaged 21.6 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game, and 3.0 blocks per game.
While Wembanyama will have to add some bulk to his lean frame to handle some of the physicality he’ll see in the NBA, the top prospect is looking like he could become an even longer version of Kevin Durant.
TV: ABC (First round only) & ESPN
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET