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The Northwestern Wildcats in NBA Draft History

The last Northwestern player to be selected into the NBA was Evan Eschmeyer in the second round back in 1999. Can Chris Collins put an end to both the NCAA Tournament and NBA Draft drought?

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA Draft rapidly approaches, BTPowerhouse continues to look at the draft histories of Big Ten programs. Today we take a look at the Northwestern Wildcats, a team, that well, has had its challenges of putting players into the NBA. It's been 16 years since the last Wildcat was drafted; a drought that looks to be lasting at least another year longer.

Wildcats currently in the NBA and/or D-League

The D-League caveat is key:

Player Drafted? D-League Team GP PPG
Drew Crawford No Erie BayHawks 50 16.02
Reggie Hearn No Reno Big Horns 15 6.73

While I don't want to take anything away from Drew Crawford, who seems to be making some sort of lemony water out of his lemons (of all players in the NBA D-League that played in at least 50 games, Crawford was second in points per game), what's still shocking is the lack of one particular name on that list. One that at the end of his senior season, many assumed would find a roster spot due to his high basketball IQ and ability to knock down long distant shots.

Confused? How about a little hint.

He was the 2012 Big Ten scoring champion, a three-time All-Big Ten selection, the most infuriating multiple scorer on a regularly bad Northwestern squad that always pushed your favorite team too far (*cough* IOWA *cough*), and the owner of the funkiest jump/set shot in the history of the Big Ten.

That man? None other than John Shurna:

Can anyone explain that shot to me? After all this time I still don't understand how it was so effective. It's so eerily similar to watching a wrestler shoot a basketball.

But I digress.

As a freshman Shurna started all 31 games. As a sophomore he led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding. He was a preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award during both his junior and senior seasons. He even beat Juan Fernandez in the 2012 State Farm Three-Point Contest. While he did get signed by the Knicks to a partially guaranteed contract, he was waived at the end of the preseason, thus sending him over to the Euro Leagues. While he's played in the Summer League the past few seasons, Shurna has yet to find a long term NBA home.

Wildcats in the NBA Draft

Would you believe me if I told you that at one time, Northwestern had a player on its roster that would go on to be the 16th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft?

No?

Would you believe me if I told you that at one time, Northwestern had a player on its roster that ended up transferring to Kansas who then would eventually go on to be the 16th overall pick in 1993 NBA Draft?

I thought so.

First Round Picks
Player Year Pick
Rex Walters 1993 16th

Yes that's right, according to many basketball related websites including RealGM, the Northwestern Wildcats DO in fact have one first round selection...who spurned the program for greener pastures.

Go 'Cats

Second Round Picks

Two players have been selected in the second round of the NBA Draft. They just so happen to be separated by 40 years.

Player Year Pick
Evan Eschmeyer 1999 34
Joe Ruklick 1959 9

Many believe that Evan Eschmeyer is the best all-around player to come out of the Wildcat program. He was a three time All-Big Ten selection before playing four years in the NBA. But by the age of 29, "Esch" was told by doctors after having his fifth knee surgery in two years, that if he did not quit the game of basketball, he would not be able to play the game with his future children. Being a well educate NU alum, he retired from the game of basketball.

Man, even the "George Washington" of Northwestern's basketball Mount Rushmore was a little cursed.

Quick aside about Joe Ruklick: he iss famously known for providing the final assist to Wilt Chamberlain during his 100-point game, so there's that.

Hope for the future?

In terms of the 2016 NBA Draft, it all rests on the big shoulders of center Alex Olah. The senior could be an intriguing free agent add-on if not a second round selection if he continues on his current trajectory having averaged 11.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG and an All Big Ten honorable mention in 2014-15.