The 2017 NBA Draft has came and gone, with four former Big Ten stars getting drafted this past Thursday. Those four draft picks represented three Big Ten programs (Michigan, Indiana and Purdue), so now one of the questions for the remaining 11 programs is when will they find themselves back in the NBA draft.
As for today’s article, it feels weird to write about when Ohio State will “get back into the NBA Draft.” The nature of college basketball, and the fact that the draft only includes two rounds, means teams typically won’t produce picks every year outside of your outliers like Kentucky.
While the Buckeyes aren’t on the same level as Kentucky, obviously, they did produce draft picks every year from 2007 to 2013, including guys like Mike Conley, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger. Just as recently as two years ago Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell went second in the 2015 NBA Draft, being selected by the Lakers.
So it’s not a huge deal that Ohio State has missed the draft the past two seasons on paper, but it is somewhat alarming when you look at the talent on hand and what has transpired as of late in Columbus. It’s pretty clear that Ohio State was starting to nose dive under Thad Matta, with the team moving on and hiring Chris Holtmann away from Butler. That being said, it should be mentioned that just as recently as 2015 the Buckeyes had a top five recruiting class.
Well, first Austin Grandstaff transferred out before the season even reached conference play. Then A.J. Harris, Daniel Giddens and Mickey Mitchell transferred after their freshmen season. The last remaining recruit from the 2015 class, JaQuan Lyle, just departed this spring and leaves the 2015 class completely void. Mix the gutted 2015 class with weaker 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes, as well as Trevor Thompson and Marc Loving going undrafted this year, and the Buckeyes seem on the outside looking in.
The Buckeyes do return Kam Williams, who declared for the draft before deciding to return for his final year of eligibility, but as of now Williams isn’t on anyone’s draft radar. That leaves Keita Bates-Diop as the best possible option when it comes to players currently on the roster, with DraftExpress currently projecting him as the 52nd pick in their early mock 2018 draft (as of June 23rd).
Of course the reality is this, Ohio State has a basketball program that has achieved quite a bit of success. While the team recently fell on hard times under Thad Matta, the hiring of Chris Holtmann should help rejuvenate the stagnant program. Holtmann hit the ground running at Butler, winning at least 22 games in all three seasons and reaching the NCAA Tournament every year. If he can achieve a similar level of success in Columbus, considering the program’s history, there is no reason why Holtmann shouldn’t be able to bring in some top recruits like Thad Matta had done previously throughout his tenure.
Being able to recruit the best players in the country means the odds of producing a future NBA pick will increase considerably. So if things don’t exactly pan out for Keita Bates-Diop this season, the Buckeyes should be back to producing NBA-caliber talent in the near future anyway.