A total of three former Michigan basketball stars had their names entered into the 2017 NBA Draft pool. And of the three, only one heard their name called on Thursday.
Former Wolverines big man D.J. Wilson, who foregone his senior season to stay with the pro route, turned into a first-round pick on Thursday as he went 17th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks.
— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2017
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 23, 2017
Leading up to the draft, many ‘experts’ pegged Wilson as a possible late-first or early-second round selection. The Bucks ultimately chose the 6-10, 235-pound Sacramento-native for his length, athleticism and “position versatility.”
Recently promoted Bucks general manager Jon Horst said that Wilson fits the mold of the type of key players they have in Milwaukee, the ability to play multiple positions on the floor. Wilson is big enough to play down low, but also athletic and capable enough to step outside and knock down shots.
Meaning they took Wilson 10 spots higher than most projected him to go without Wilson ever doing a private workout with the Bucks
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) June 23, 2017
A couple interesting notes here: Milwaukee worked out close to 90 players over the last two months or so leading up to draft night on Thursday; Wilson was not one of them. Also in a bit of a surprise, Wilson was the first player from a Big Ten school selected. There were a couple former Big Ten standouts, Indiana’s OG Anunoby and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan specifically, that could have been potential lottery picks.
Instead, it’s Wilson leading the wave of Big Ten guys selected on Thursday.
D.J. Wilson was drafted over:
— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) June 23, 2017
Of all the players listed in the tweet above, only Wilson, Anunoby, Swanigan and Anunoby’s Indiana teammate, Thomas Bryant, were formally drafted on Thursday.
Wilson this past season at Michigan saw a huge spike across the board, in both playing time and production. After playing in 31 games over his first two years, where he averaged less than six minutes per contest and 2.3 points per game, Wilson as a junior played in all 38 of Michigan’s games last season, averaging better than 30 minutes of playing time and netting 11 points.
IRVIN, WALTON INK FREE AGENT DEALS
Two of Wilson’s former Michigan teammates, graduating seniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., did not hear their name called on Thursday but ultimately did end up signing unrestricted free agent deals to participate in the NBA Summer League.
Irvin just capped off a college career where he played in a program-best 142 games as a member of the men’s hoops team. He averaged 13.0 points per game this past season, second only to Walton on the team, and finishes north of 1,600 career points for his career.
Walton, who posted career-high marks in points (15.5 PPG) and overall shooting (.436 FG% and .422 3PT%) as a senior, will leave Michigan as the only player in program history to record at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists for his career.
IN-STATE TALENT DRAFTED
D.J. Wilson was the only player from any of the Michigan-based college programs drafted on Thursday. However, Wilson is not Michigan-made himself.
There were, however, four players with Michigan roots that were drafted:
- Josh Jackson, KAN | Phoenix Suns, No. 4
- Hometown: Southfield, MI
- Attended Consortium College Prep in Detroit for two years
- Heavily recruited by Michigan State
- Kyle Kuzma, UTAH | Los Angeles Lakers, No. 27
- Hometown: Burton, MI
- Attended Bentley High School for two years
- Monte’ Morris, ISU | Denver Nuggets, No. 51
- Hometown: Flint, MI
- Attendant Flint Beecher High School for four years
- 3-time Michigan POY by the Associated Press
- 2013 Michigan’s “Mr. Basketball”
- Edmond Sumner, XAV | Indiana Pacers, No. 52
- Hometown: Detroit, MI
- Attendant Detroit Country Day School