Austin would have heard his name called in the second round, but medical testing done by the NBA revealed that he had Marfan Syndrome, thus ending his career.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver invited Austin to the draft as his guest and honored him halfway through the first round.
You’re a class act, Mr. Silver.
Heading into yesterday’s draft no one was sure whether Andrew Wiggins of Kansas or Jabari Parker of Duke would be selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs have offense but lacked defense last season. This fact gave Wiggins the nod over Parker. Wiggins is long and athletic which adds to his versatility on the defensive end of the floor to guard multiple positions. While he is a scorer, most analysts pointed out his tendency to fade into the background throughout last year as a freshman at Kansas. Wiggins won’t get away with that in the NBA.
Once Cleveland’s pick was in, it was another two to three minutes before Silver came out and announced that the Cavs selected Wiggins as the top pick of the draft.
Parker went No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks where his explosive offense is expected to translate quickly into the NBA.
Besides who would go No. 1, the other large question heading into the draft was how far KU’s Joel Embiid would fall after he recently suffered a broken navicular bone in his right foot and underwent surgery. That injury, plus his back, plus his knee added up to major injury concerns for the big man.
The Philadelphia 76ers have experience with drafting injured players as they selected Nerlens Noel of Kentucky in last year’s draft. Philly selected Embiid with the third pick of the draft. Embiid is expected to be out for four to six months, meaning he will miss summer league and training camp. But once he’s healthy, he and Noel will make for a solid duo in the front court.
Three picks later it was Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart’s turn to go. While he struggled on and off the court last season, Smart’s intangibles were key in his selection by the Boston Celtics. His competitive nature helps him attack the basket offensively and guard multiple positions defensively.
It was the fifth time since 1985 that one conference boasted three top-6 draft choices overall. It was also the ninth straight year that at least one Big 12 athlete has been chosen among the top-7. Since 2006, a total of 12 Big 12 athletes have been selected in the top-10 with 20 chosen in the conference’s 18 year history.
Two more players from the Big 12 were selected in the second round.
Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves No. 44 overall. Brown is a tremendous athlete and his jumper keeps improving. He was one of the best dunkers in the Big 12 last season. He tied Jahii Carson for the highest maximum vertical jump (43.5) at the pre-draft combine in May. Brown was OSU’s second leading scorer last year with 17.2 points per contest on 47.3 percent shooting from the field.
Baylor’s Cory Jefferson was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 60, and final, pick of the night. Jefferson is a long forward who can turn over either shoulder down low as well as sink the midrange jumper. He led Baylor in scoring last season with 13.7 points per game while pulling down an average of 8.2 boards.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Nets sent $1 million to the Timberwolves for the draft rights to Brown. They also acquired the No. 59 and No. 60 picks of the draft – Xavier Thames of San Diego State and Jefferson.
Another Big 12 player was involved in a trade on draft night as well – former Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson.
According to the sportsnola.com, the New Orleans Pelicans traded Jackson back to the Sixers for the 47th pick on Thursday night, Louisville guard Russ Smith.
Jackson was drafted No. 42 in last year’s draft by Philly but was traded to the Pelicans. He played for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League and led the team with 29.1 points and 6.2 assists per contest.
Overall, a total of 49 players from the Big 12 have been drafted in the last seven years while a total of 96 have been selected since 1996-97.
Kansas leads all conference teams with 27 draft picks, followed by Texas with 16, Iowa State and Oklahoma State with eight, Oklahoma and Baylor with seven, Texas Tech with three and Kansas State with two.