Northwestern and the NBA is a story unlike any other. In part, because in the past, Northwestern players have not had much success in the NBA. That's not to say the talent has not been there-- because it has-- but none of the notable players in the past few years have had success in the NBA. They have made summer leagues and initial rosters, but they haven't made the final cut. Memorable players like John Shurna, Drew Crawford, and Reggie Hearn are still playing professional basketball with the hope of making an NBA roster.
Reggie Hearn, who graduated from Northwestern in 2013, is the only Northwestern player on an active NBA roster. He currently plays for the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League. Drew Crawford and John Shurna headed overseas to play basketball for the 2015-2016 season.
Drew Crawford played in the NBA- D League in the 2014-2015 season for the Erie BayHawks. After a successful season averaging 16 points, 6.1 rebounds, and just under 2 assists a game, he signed with Bnei Hertzeliyya, a basketball team in Israel that plays in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. Crawford recently signed to play with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel of the Philippine Basketball Association, but decided against it in order to have a chance to play in the NBA Summer League this summer.
John Shurna has also had success playing overseas in the past few seasons. Shurna played in Valencia, Spain in the 2015-2016 season. He made headlines in The New York Times for the beard he grew during a 28- game win streak. His plans for the 2016-2017 season have not been confirmed yet.
The last player to be drafted from the Wildcats was Evan Eschmeyer in 1999 to the New Jersey Nets. He went in the second round with pick number 34.
There has been one first round pick in 1993. Rex Walters was the lucky player to be picked number 16. Although his basketball career started at Northwestern only played two years before transferring to Kansas to finish his collegiate basketball career.
In the Bill Carmody era at Northwestern, no players were selected in the draft. He coached at Northwestern from 2000-2013. While Bill Carmody was arguably the most successful coach in Northwestern history, he coached the Princeton offense, which made it difficult for professional teams to see the success of players outside of the 1-3-1 zone. He knew how to recruit talented players, as seen in Drew Crawford, John Shurna, Reggie Hearn, Alex Olah and Tre Demps. But, for as talented as these players were in a Big Ten environment, the success has not translated well to the professional court.
Alas, enough of the sad, not very exciting past history. Let's look at the future!
Tre Demps and Alex Olah both have chances of being drafted or signed as free agents in the 2016 NBA Draft. Although they both have areas that need improvement, both of them have shown that they have the talent to play in the NBA.
As for 2017, Sanjay Lumpkin also has a chance to be taken in the draft. He will need to put up higher shooting numbers in his redshirt senior season, but I wouldn't count him out of the equation.
The 2018 class, the first recruiting class Chris Collins brought in, has Bryant McIntosh, Gavin Skelly, and Scottie Lindsey, all of whom should have the opportunity to be drafted if their stellar performances continue as upperclassmen.
Have no fear, Northwestern's time to shine in the NBA is near.