To Return or Not to Return?
Who are the major Big Ten players yet to finalize their NBA Draft decision?
Under the NCAA rules, players have until 5:00 pm ET on May 24th to withdraw from the NBA draft and still maintain their college eligibility. This allows players 10 days from the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, to assess their potential draft chances. Some of the Big Ten players who have already decided to return are Maryland’s Justin Jackson, Michigan transfer Jaaron Simmons, Purdue’s Vincent Edwards, and Purdue’s Isaac Haas.
But there are some top Big Ten players still deciding whether to return to college or not for the 2017-2018 season.
With the 5 pm deadline approaching, let’s take a look at the biggest names still undecided.
-Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
Without a doubt, Swanigan is the biggest name still undecided about the NBA Draft. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year has worked out for several teams, including the Orlando Magic yesterday. Swanigan is scheduled to have his final workout with the New York Knicks today.
After an amazing sophomore season which saw Swanigan averages 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, most thought he was a definite 2017 NBA Draft prospect. However, the consensus among most projection sites is that Swanigan is a late first round selection at best.
DraftExpress has Caleb Swanigan as the 40th pick overall, NBADraft has him slotted to the New York Knicks at the 44th pick, while both SBNation and BleacherReport share consensus as a second round pick. The only major projection to have Swanigan as a first round pick is CBSSports, who have him going to the Utah Jazz with the 24th pick.
Prediction: Caleb Swanigan simply cannot improve that much on his incredible 2017 season. The 6’9” 250 lb Purdue forward will stay in the draft.
-Moritz Wagner (Michigan)
The question in Ann Arbor is, “Are Wagner and Wilson a package deal?” If so, Michigan fans are collectively holding their breath, because if they both return the Wolverines will have one of the best teams in the Big Ten.
The 6’11” sophomore from Germany was one of the most improved players in the country last season. Wagner improved from 2.9 to 12.1 points per game, and more than doubled his rebounds per game to 4.2 per game. The true European big man shot 40 percent from three point range, and has an offensive game that should translate well to the NBA.
His projections, however, are worse than teammate D.J. Wilson. DraftExpress and NBADraftdo not project Wagner to be drafted. SBNation and BleacherReport both see Wagner as a second round pick at best.
Prediction: If D.J. Wilson should return to Michigan, then Moritz Wagner certainly should. Combining with transfer Jaaron Simmons, the Wolverines will have a team capable of competing against rival Michigan State for the Big Ten title.
-Kam Williams (Ohio State)
When Williams announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft, it took quite a few people by surprise. While he had a decent 2016-’17 season, he wasn’t getting much Draft hype, which made his decision a bit of an unusual one.
Nonetheless, Williams now finds himself with a crucial decision to make. It’s also one that will have a huge impact on what the Buckeyes look like next season. Considering all that’s gone sour for Ohio State this offseason, a decision by Williams to head to the professional leagues would be a crushing blow.
However, regardless of what you think about Ohio State or Williams, this decision is simply about whether Williams feels fine with playing in Europe. He doesn’t have a great shot at the NBA right now, so does he choose the Buckeyes or a contract overseas?
Prediction: Williams returns to Columbus for another season. Simply put, his draft stock isn’t good enough to warrant an early entry.
-D.J. Wilson (Michigan)
The lanky 6’10” 240 lb Junior has kept the Michigan faithful guessing his intentions throughout the process. A huge social media user, Wilson has alternated cryptic messages through a variety of medium. What has been clear is the determining factor.
As you would expect, the predictions are split. DraftExpress has Wilson as the absolute last pick of the first round at 30th overall, while NBADraft does not have him getting draft at all. SBNation projects Wilson to the Indiana Pacers at the 18th overall selection, and BleacherReport has him as a second round pick.
The variance in results has clearly played a major part in D.J. Wilson’s lack of a decision as we sit here on May 24th.
Prediction: The old poker adage “think long, think wrong” applies here. If D.J. Wilson is unsure, he needs to return to Michigan for the upcoming season.