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Is B1G's 2014 Draft Class Better Than Last Year's?

The Big Ten's 2014 draft class is looking strong and very deep, but is it better than that of 2013?

Mike Stobe

Three members of the Big Ten's 2013 draft class made the NBA's all-rookie first team this season, so the class of 2014 has plenty to live up to.

Five Big Ten players were drafted in 2013. Three of them, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., made the NBA all-rookie first team, and Cody Zeller made the all-rookie second team. DeShaun Thomas was selected by the Spurs but moved to France to develop his game.

A closer look at the Big Ten's 2013 draft class:
Name Pos. B1G School Pick No. 2013-14 PPG
Victor Oladipo G Indiana 2 13.8
Cody Zeller C Indiana 4 6.0
Trey Burke G Michigan 9 12.8
Tim Hardaway Jr. G Michigan 24 10.2
Deshaun Thomas F Ohio State 58 -

The B1G's 2014 draft class is not nearly as top heavy as that of 2013. There certainly won't be two B1G players drafted in the top 5, and it's almost as unlikely that three go in the top ten.

Noah Vonleh is the top B1G prospect and appears often at pick number 5 to the Utah Jazz on mock drafts. Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris both rank in the top 14 of DraftExpress's list of top 100 prospects. Their mock draft has Stauskas coming off the board at 9 to Charlotte and Harris to Phoenix at 14.

While the class of 2014 doesn't have as strong a presence at the top of board, this year's class goes significantly deeper than it did in 2013. Adreian PayneMitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III could all be drafted in the first round, and Roy Devyn Marble lands near the end of the second round in most mock drafts.

The B1G's 2014 draft class with draft projections and rankings from DraftExpress:
Name Pos. B1G School Proj. Pick No. Prospect Top 100 Rank
Noah Vonleh F/C Indiana 5 7
Nik Stauskas G Michigan 9 12
Gary Harris G Michigan St. 14 14
Adreian Payne F/C Michigan St. 18 20
Mitch McGary F/C Michigan 30 28
Glenn Robinson III F Michigan 29 32
Roy Devyn Marble G Iowa 51 47
LaQuinton Ross F Ohio St. - 49
Keith Appling G Michigan St. - 67
Aaron Craft G Ohio St. - 68

The depth in the B1G's 2014 class, with potentially six first round picks, shows how strong the conference was this season, although a majority of the B1G's draftees will come from just Michigan and Michigan State. If McGary and GR3 go in the first round along with Stauskas, five Wolverines will have been drafted in the first round in the last two years.

The B1G's class of 2014 will be deeper than in 2013, but it's hard to say whether it will be more talented. The 2014 NBA draft is widely considered the strongest draft in a decade, as Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and more potential superstars grace the top of draft boards. So, a mid-first round pick this year may be more like a top-ten pick in another draft.

Stauskas and Harris likely would have been top ten picks a year ago, and Payne could've been in the lottery. Vonleh may have even gone in the top 3 a year ago. It's anyone's guess where these guys will be in ten years, but we have a better idea of how the class of 2013 will fare in the NBA.

Oladipo and Burke look like soon to be all-stars, both immediately becoming leaders on their respective teams and putting up some big numbers. Tim Hardaway Jr. also surpassed expectations, averaging in double figures and making the all-rookie first team after being drafted 24th overall. Deshaun Thomas' NBA career looks bleak, but Cody Zeller should shape into a solid center.

When it comes down to it, this is another case of numbers never lie. The B1G's class of 2013 owned picks 2, 4 and 9 in the draft and proved it's top-end talent in their rookie season. This year, the Big Ten just doesn't have the star power. There are a lot of guys who will have long, successful NBA careers, likely those selected in the mid-late first round. Stauskas, Harris, Payne, GR3 and McGary should all be legit role players, if not starters.

The Big Ten's 2014 draft class is deep, but it won't get the recognition it deserves this year because of the highly touted prospects at the top of the board. And while the class of 2014 may not produce the star power that last year did, down the road, this year's B1G draft class should consist of more players with impactful NBA careers than the class of 2013.