Local ties

Five prospects with Minnesota connections expect — or hope — to hear their names called on Thursday night:

Mike Muscala

F-C, Bucknell, 6-11, age 21

Hometown: Roseville

Draft range: Late first round to second round

Comment: Was 6-1 small forward in high school and now is a fully grown NBA prospect who still has the perimeter shooting touch. He’s more pro power forward than center, at least until he gets stronger.

He said: “I’ve had to work hard my whole career. I’ve always been doubted, even coming into Bucknell. I suppose it’s natural coming from a small school, to be a sleeper. I like that challenge of proving people wrong. That motivates me every day.”

Trevor Mbakwe

F, Minnesota, 6-8, age 24

Hometown: St. Paul

Draft range: Second round

Comment: Scouts question his size and old age, but not the motor of a guy who made potential top 10 pick Cody Zeller look like a little boy in a game against Indiana last winter. Compares himself to undersized NBA power forwards Kenneth Faried and Jason Maxiell.

He said: “I’m not one of those guys who has to have the ball in his hands to have an impact on the game. I pride myself on my ability to rebound and defend. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m here today.”

Nate Wolters

G, South Dakota State, 6-5, age 22

Hometown: St. Cloud

Draft range: Late first round to second round

Comment: Small-school point guards are becoming the rage, and this guy was a big-time college scorer who’ll find his way in the NBA because of his ball-handling and court vision.

He said: “I didn’t think I’d be in this position three or four years ago. I’ve improved every year. In college, just trying to win, I was forced to score a lot, take a lot of shots. My natural position is more of a facilitator, getting other guys involved. I think I can do that in the league.”

Colton Iverson

C, Colorado St., 7-0, age 23

Hometown: Yankton, S.D.

Draft range: Second round

Comment: Former Gopher who transferred after his junior season because he felt he wasn’t improving established himself as an NBA prospect in two years at Colorado State. He’s a legitimate 7-footer, and physical, too.

He said: “I just wasn’t improving [with the Gophers], wasn’t really getting the opportunities I wanted. I wanted to find a place where I could be a team leader and show what I could do on the court. Tough to tell, but I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t [transferred]. I think I’m NBA-ready right now.”

Rodney Williams

F, Minnesota, 6-7, age 21

Hometown: Minneapolis

Draft range: Second round

Comment: Long and athletic, he looked like a future lottery pick after he arrived at Williams Arena four years ago, but he never thrived in coach Tubby Smith’s half-court offense and never seemed to get better. Must make the transition from college power forward to NBA small forward.

He said: “It has been pretty tough, trying to live up to the expectations, having my consistency be so up and down those four years at the U. … I can’t take back what I did or didn’t do. Now it’s time to look forward.”