Well that was fun, wasn’t it?
With the 2017 NBA Draft completed, we now turn our attention to the 2017-2018 NCAA basketball season, and early reports project the Big Ten to return to it’s rightful place as one of the top college basketball conferences. Michigan State, Minnesota, and Northwestern are all in the SB Nation top 25 early rankings, with Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin on the bubble as well.
A strong Big Ten Conference should produce several potential NBA Draft prospects for 2018. Let’s take a look at which Big Ten players project for the 2018 NBA Draft.
(All projections by DraftExpress).
-Miles Bridges, Michigan State (Sophomore)
One of the biggest draft surprises was when guaranteed lottery pick, Miles Bridges, decided to return for his sophomore season at East Lansing. He has the prototypical NBA body at 6’6” 226 lbs, with a 6’8 3/4” wingspan. Bridges had an incredible Big Ten rookie season averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
Bridges has explosive athleticism and a tireless motor. He shot 38.9 percent from three-point range and will be a guaranteed lottery pick in the 2018 draft. Still only 19 years old, Bridges will have every opportunity to make himself the number one overall pick in next year’s draft.
- Projection: Fifth overall pick
-Jaren Jackson, Michigan State (Freshman)
The five star incoming Spartans recruit is the perfect “new” power forward, with a 6’11” frame and an outstanding three-point shot. Jackson is projected as a one and done player, but will serve as an integral part of Michigan State’s drive to a Final Four.
Jackson needs to gain weight, as he only weighs 227 lbs, but his 7’4” wingspan will more than compensate on the defensive end. Who better for him to learn defensive toughness from than Spartans head coach Tom Izzo?
- Projection: Ninth overall pick
-Justin Jackson, Maryland (Sophomore)
The Terrapins’ freshman tested the NBA Draft waters, but correctly decided to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. Jackson had a solid, but not spectacular freshman campaign, averaging 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
His 44 percent shooting from beyond the arc makes him a versatile offensive threat that should be among the Big Ten scoring leaders next season. Jackson is a well rounded 6’7” 225 lb forward, that has a great chance to be a first round selection in next year’s draft.
- Projection: 21st overall pick
-Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (Junior)
Losing one of the most successful senior classes in Wisconsin history will be difficult, but fortunately the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s best players in Ethan Happ. He had a very strong sophomore season for Wisconsin, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game in route to a third team All-American season.
Happ enjoyed a stretch during the season where he was the clear number one scoring option for the Badgers. He had nine consecutive games of double digit scoring, and tallied 66 points and 26 points over a three game Wisconsin winning streak in late January.
He will return as a junior preseason All-Big Ten player for the Badgers next season.
- Projection: 36th overall pick
-Vince Edwards, Purdue (Senior)
After waiting until the last possible minute, Vince Edwards decided to return to Purdue for his senior season. Edwards spent the summer gathering information, and needs to improve in all offensive facets to consistently contribute on the NBA level.
Edwards was “Mr. Everything” for the Boilermakers last season, averaging 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. His versatility is a huge strength, and he will look to improve in each of those areas to make himself a viable 2018 first round NBA Draft selection.
- Projection: 37th overall pick
-Isaac Haas, Purdue (Senior)
You can’t coach size, and Isaac Haas decided to bring his 7’2” 290 lb frame back to Purdue for his senior season. Haas joined Vince Edwards and makes the Boilermakers a legitimate upper echelon Big Ten team for the 2017-’18 season.
With fellow big man Caleb Swanigan getting drafted 26th by the Portland Trail Blazers, the Boilermakers will lean on Haas as their primary offensive post option. He was productive as Swanigan’s primary backup off the bench, averaging 12.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
If he can learn to avoid foul trouble, Haas will give Purdue one of the true legitimate post players in the Big Ten.
- Projection: 47th overall pick
-Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State (Junior)
After having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg suffered before the season, Ohio State junior Keita Bates-Diop received a medical redshirt designation from the NCAA and has two years of eligibility remaining. This is good news for new head coach Chris Holtmann, as the 6’7” 235 lb forward has the wingspan and mobility that intrigues NBA scouts.
Bates-Diop is a versatile defender that averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in just nine games last season. A solid free throw shooter, Bates-Diop will look to regain his touch from three-point range that produced 36 made three pointers as a sophomore in the 2015-’16 season.
- Projection: 52nd overall pick
-Moritz Wagner, Michigan (Junior)
A true European big man, the Germany born Moritz Wagner was a matchup nightmare for Michigan opponents this past season. The 6’11” 240 lb junior will be a leader for next season’s Wolverines team that will hope to build off a 2017 Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Wagner was 45 of 114 (39.5 percent) from long range, while shooting 56 percent overall from the floor. He was third on the team in points per game (12.1), fourth in rebounding (4.2), and second in steals (1.0). Wagner tested the NBA waters with fellow underclassmen D.J. Wilson, but decided to return to Ann Arbor to try to secure a second round selection in 2018.
- Projection: 59th overall pick