With the 2015 NBA Draft recently wrapping up, Golden Gopher fans were left feeling excluded on Draft night. Minnesota has struggled significantly on Draft night in recent memory and has failed to get a single player drafted in more than a decade. Their last drafted player was Kris Humphries in 2004 and the program has only had two players in the 1st Round since 2000.
This leads to one question. When will Minnesota get back in the NBA Draft? There are numerous barometers for any successful basketball program. These include things like the team's record, championships, individual awards earned, and the ability to put players into the next level. Fans may not expect multiple players to be drafted every year, but fans certainly would like to see at least a player drafted every decade, but can they change things?
With that, let's take a look at Minnesota's potential NBA Draft picks in the upcoming seasons.
Elevated Potential Selections
- #1. Nate Mason
The Gophers have no sure-fire NBA picks on its roster and probably don't even have one with likely or solid potential to get there, but one player with more than just a raw chance to get there is Mason. He played really well last season both in the lineup and off the bench in one of the conference's deeper backcourt units. Mason will now be the returning minute leader for the Gophers from the 2014-15 season and expects to take another step forward on his 105.5 offensive rating and 20.1 assist rate in conference play last season. Height could be an issue, but Mason does appear to be one of the better potential prospects for the Gophers moving forward.
- #2. Joey King
Earlier this offseason, BTPowerhouse did a full analysis on Minnesota's 2014-15 season and one of the more surprising things was just how well King played. There will be some size and age issues with King, but he certainly is big enough to be in the NBA and has the shooting many teams want in today's game. There's no doubt that King needs to polish up his game in 2015-16, but if he can improve on the defensive side of the ball and become a better shot creator, he has a shot to sneak into the 2nd Round.
- #1. Kevin Dorsey
Few would deny that Dorsey is the most hyped recruit in Minnesota's 2015 recruiting class and one of the more highly rated incoming prospects in the conference. Dorsey has the size, athleticism, and his defensive skillset should make him a great fit for Pitino's press system. Dorsey will have the opportunity to play early and often with the exits of Andre Hollins and Deandre Mathieu and has a lot of potential going forward. However, as a 4-star recruit, Dorsey's potential is still an unknown and until he performs, questions will remain.
- #2. Gaston Diedhiou/Bakary Konate
Two players that did not receive a ton of attention during the 2014-15 season were Diedhiou and Konate. Though neither showed much during the season and do not deserve to be listed here by themselves, both still have the bodies to play at the next level and if they develop well over the next few years could be NBA prospects. Both of these players have the real potential to never contribute consistently for the Gophers, but both also have the potential to be really good players. Both are undeveloped, but they are players to keep an eye on over the coming years in terms of Minnesota's NBA Draft potential.
Overall, the Gophers do not have many players that appear like locks for the NBA Draft, but they do have a few players on their roster and coming to campus next season that could develop into strong Draft prospects in the next few years.