Today is The Big Day for 60 former college basketball players (and international players), all of whom will find a new home tonight with a pro team in the NBA draft. Plenty more will be disappointed after not hearing their name called – and will have to take a tougher path toward their dreams.
Where will the Minnesota locals land on that sliding scale of emotions? That depends on who you talk to.
In every mock draft I’ve seen both St. Cloud-native Nate Wolters and Roseville's Mike Muscala go late in the first or early-to-mid second. The fate of the two Gophers’ stars – Minneapolis’ Rodney Williams and St. Paul’s Trevor Mbakwe – however, is not as guaranteed. Ex-Gopher Colton Iverson could also go in the second round.
Several weeks ago, Williams and Mbakwe were getting some love in predictions -- with Williams picked in some mock drafts and Mbakwe picked in others. Now, Williams appears to have lost steam. The shooting guard/wing-sized player exhibited the athleticism he’s always been touted for in the NBA pre-combine in New Jersey (registering a 42 ½-inch max vertical leap!), but his on-court showing has been less promising and questions remain about whether his ballhandling and shooting skills are NBA-ready. Will a team take a chance on him – banking on his role as a dunk-happy energy guy? It’s possible, but none of the mock drafts I’ve seen think so (please let me know if you have seen one that does).
As for Mbakwe -- considering how the slimmer forward performed in the NBA combine and impressed in his 13 NBA team workouts -- his stock appears only to have risen. He’s still undersized for a power forward, but his power, instincts and intensity seems to have turned some heads. Mbakwe has smartly been working on his 15-foot jump shot, which he’ll need if he wants to be competitive at the next level. There’s still the legal baggage and history of injuries to consider, but right now, it looks like a pretty good bet that Mbakwe could find a new home tonight. The guys at CBS (Gary Parrish and Matt Moore), as well Chad Ford at ESPN say “no,” but Draft Express, NBAdraft.net and USA Today all say “yes.”
Keep in mind, too, that the Timberwolves – who worked out Mbakwe at Target Center earlier this month -- have two late second-round picks (No. 52 and 59) so Mbakwe landing at a new Minneapolis home isn’t out of the question. Should make for an interesting night.
Some mocks for you to peruse: