It’s a well-known fact: The Big Ten Conference hasn’t produced an NCAA Tournament champion since Tom Izzo and Michigan State won the crown in 2000, a 22-year drought.
Most pundits will say the futility of the league in March stems from a physical style of play that doesn’t translate to the postseason and discourages top-tier high school talent from even joining a league team. first.
“The biggest challenge in the league has been its ability to recruit NBA-level talent during the conference,” ESPN’s Myron Medcalf said last year in a discussion of why the Big Ten haven’t lifted a trophy in a generation.
It’s undeniable in recruiting circles, the physicality of the Big 10 is a concern and something coaches use outside of the league as a negative tool. In essence, “don’t go there, you’ll get beat up and you’ll never make it to the NBA.”
In general, that narrative has been accurate.
In a 2016 study by Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, the Big Ten was last among the six major conferences when it came to first-round NBA draft picks from 1996 to 2015. And here’s the update , even if you add the Big Ten first-round picks. in the subsequent six drafts while keeping the other leagues at their 2015 levels, he would still be in last place. In fact, the Big Ten have only had one first-round pick in each of the last two drafts.
But all that is about to change on Thursday night.
Based on most NBA Drafts, including ESPN’s latest update on Thursday, the Big Ten should have five players getting their names heard in the first round.
To get drafted into today’s NBA, you must exhibit the ability to thrive in a free-flowing, open-court style, and to varying degrees Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Johnny Davis, Malaki Branham and EJ Liddell have done so, while playing in the Big Ten.
To be sure, the Big Ten hasn’t magically cured everything that has plagued it stylistically. It’s still too physical and hasn’t produced a product that translates into March yet.
And recruiting hasn’t suddenly taken off in the league, either.
In fact, while Branham (247Sports Composite No. 38) and Liddell (44) might reasonably have been viewed as potential NBA players, so-called pundits were dead wrong when it came to potential lottery picks Ivey (89), Davis (164), Murray (334).
But when five Big Ten players are called up Thursday night, the idea that the Big Ten hurts your chances of making it to the NBA will fade and suddenly become a recruiting backlash for Mike Woodson and others around the league. .
Former Indiana head coach Archie Miller recently gave a candid interview in which he admitted that his biggest regret from his time in Indiana was his approach to recruiting.
With just 13 scholarship slots to offer, talent screening is a critical mission for college staff, and Thursday night’s first round will also likely be a doom of Miller’s scouting ability while at IU.
Ivey was a product of the state and was thought by many to be the most complete native Hoosier in the class of 2020. But Miller didn’t even offer Ivey a scholarship despite having him at IU team camp in 2018, a day in which he set fire to the nets at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and showed his potential future in the NBA.
No doubt the idea was that Ivey, a South Bend product and son of Notre Dame women’s coach Niele, would stay home. But obviously that turned out to be the wrong thought.
Blake Wesley, another South Bend product, actually got an offer from Indiana, and for a while there was mutual interest. But I distinctly remember in August 2020 when his father told me that the family had not heard from IU staff in months. This was a draft Indiana had a chance of winning if he pushed hard with the right message.
That message had to be exactly what Notre Dame did this year: put the ball in their hands and let it go. Wesley averaged 14.4 points per game as a true freshman, and he was exactly the kind of two-way athletic wing the Hoosiers were missing in 2021-22. He will also be drafted in the first round on Thursday.
Finally, there is Indianapolis product Jake LaRavia of Lawrence Central HS. Miller had three chances to get it: first before committing to SIU-Edwardsville, then after he reopened his draft following a coaching change and landed at Indiana State.
The last chance to land LaRavia came at an inopportune time, just as Miller’s tenure at IU was unraveling.
But his 14.6 points per game at Wake Forest and 38.4 percent shooting from behind the arc as a modern 6-foot-9 4 would have been another major asset for the Hoosiers.
Now, on Thursday, LaRavia will likely hear his name in the first round as well, and it will serve as yet another reminder of what could have been.
LaRavia and Wesley were also two more massive failures on the recruiting sites. Wesley was ranked 121st, while LaRavia was completely unranked.
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