With the 2015 NBA Draft recently wrapping up, Illini fans were left feeling excluded once again on Draft night. Illinois has not had a ton of luck in the NBA Draft in recent memory with just one player being selected since 2006 and none since 2012. The program had a great run in the early 2000s, but has failed to recapture that since.
This leads to one question. When will Illinois 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. Illinois saw several departures in the 2015 offseason including seniors Nnanna Egwu and Rayvonte Rice, but none were able to get picked in the Draft and it's a trend that should certainly be concerning for Illinois fans.
With that, let's take a look at Illinois' potential NBA Draft picks in the upcoming seasons.
- #1. Malcolm Hill
Recently, BTPowerhouse did a full profile on the 2014-15 season for Illinois and the player that really stood out was Hill. Though Rice gets much of the attention, Hill actually probably had the most productive season on the team and will be looked to as "the guy" for next year. Right now, DraftExpress has him slated as the #46 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and if he can continue to build on his potential last season, he appears to be right in line to become the first Illinois player drafted since 2012.
Solid Potential Selections
- #1. Kendrick Nunn
Coming into the 2014-15 season, many thought that Nunn would be the player to rise up and really take over as one of the roster's top contributors. Though Nunn did take some solid steps forward, he never become that legitimate All-Big Ten type of player many fans had hoped he would before the season. There is still room for Nunn to grow, but he will have to work to become more efficient in other parts of the game like rebounding and defense if he wants to become a player taken in the Draft.
- #1. Jalen Coleman-Lands
There's no denying that Illini fans are excited about Coleman-Lands and for good reason. He comes in with elite recruiting rankings and very likely should earn a starting spot immediately. He has a really nice handle and a great outside shot, which make him attractive for any team. He still has plenty to prove to start appearing on some Draft boards, but he certainly looks like he has the most NBA potential in Illinois' 2015 recruiting class.
- #2. Leron Black
Though Black didn't create the "splash" that many hoped for in Year One, he actually had a pretty productive freshman season. He was one of the Illini's top bench contributors and was effective when he did see the floor. There's no doubt that Black has a lot more to prove if he hopes to move into serious NBA Draft consideration, but there's a reason he had so many high rankings when he entered Illinois.
- #3. Aaron Jordan/DJ Williams
Neither Jordan or Williams is anywhere near a proven commodity or appear on any mock draft boards at the moment, but both come in rated as 4-star prospects with solid upside. Neither of these two would deserve to be listed individually at the moment, but they are two players to keep an eye on going forward.
Overall, the Illini may not have any sure-fire type of NBA prospects heading into next season, but there are plenty of options and talent that could emerge.