Michigan State has had some of the most recent success of all the Big Ten teams in the NBA Draft. Michigan State has had a player selected in each of the last three drafts and four of the last five. This includes three first round picks since 2014.
However, that streak ended on Thursday as no Spartans were selected in this year’s NBA Draft. That came as no surprise as neither Eron Harris or Alvin Ellis were projected to be selected. So when will we see another Spartan drafted? Well you can bank on next year for sure.
Michigan State will enter the 2017-18 season as the hands down favorite in the Big Ten and considered one of the top dogs to make it to the Final Four. So with that you can assume there is plenty of NBA talent on the Spartans’ roster. That is led by rising sophomore Miles Bridges.
Bridges shocked the college basketball world when he elected to come back to East Lansing for his sophomore season, and had he left he would have most likely been a lottery pick on Thursday. Bridges averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, leading the team in both of those categories, and it’s expected he’ll only improve upon those numbers next year.
If Bridges were to leave after next year, which is highly expected, and he doesn’t experience any injuries during this upcoming season then you can count on him to be drafted early. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has Bridges currently pegged as the 5th overall pick in his early mock draft so we can definitely bank on Michigan State getting back into next year’s draft.
Possibly joining Bridges in the first round of next year’s draft is Spartan incoming freshman Jaren Jackson. Parrish also likes Jackson — who has great size at 6-foot-10 — to go in next year’s lottery as the 10th overall pick. Like Bridges, Jackson will start off his Michigan State career with extremely high expectations and if he lives up to them this year then he will surely have the chance to be a one-and-done.
Bridges and Jackson are considered to be high picks next year, but there are a few other names to keep in mind as well. Sophomores Nick Ward, Josh Langford and Cassius Winston all have the potential to play at the next level. Each one of these guys bring different talents to the table and I highly doubt all of them will leave school early so with that being said I’d pick Ward as the most likely to get selected in next year’s draft.
As a freshman Ward averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He considered entering his name into the draft this past offseason but elected to come back. It was the right decision because if he builds on what he achieved last year then his draft stock will only rise. I’m not sure if he’ll do that or not but good money is that Ward will eventually be drafted, whether it’s leaving early or staying all four years.
So a lot will be figured out or change before next year’s draft but there is one thing that is certain: Michigan State will be back in the draft. It could range from one to five players, but I like at least Bridges and Jackson to go in next year’s first round. And if Michigan State lives up to expectations next year then I’m sure more will join them in the 2018 NBA Draft.