Who Will Be the Next Husky Player Taken in the NBA Draft? Part II


In Part I of the series, we examined which seniors on the roster have the best chance of being taken in the 2013 NBA draft. In Part II, we examine the underclassmen who have the best chance of making the jump early for the 2013 draft or will likely be taken in the 2014 draft if they decided to stay.

Beyond the seniors, there are a couple of other players who seem like conceivable NBA draft picks. The most obvious choice is CJ Wilcox. The super-smooth long distance shooter has the height (6’5″) and tools necessary to be successful in the NBA. In fact, to me he is the most natural fit for the NBA of any of the current players or signed recruits the Huskies have. Wilcox managed to average 14 ppg despite playing the entire season with a variety of injuries (most notably a stress fracture in his femur that also caused it to migrate to his hip that limited his practice time and minutes on the floor). It also didn’t help that he suffered a serious concussion against Saint Louis. Romar even alluded to the fact that Wilcox might have even been a 20 ppg player had he been healthy, even with the competition for touches with Ross and Wroten.

If CJ Wilcox is healthy all next year, he could really explode onto the national scene. The Huskies lost two big time scorers early to the draft this year in Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, and CJ Wilcox is most obviously the one on the roster who will be counted on to pick up the slack (along with Scott Suggs and Mark McLaughlin). If CJ Wilcox were to average something close to 20 ppg and get the national headlines, I think the NBA draft could come calling. He is currently projected for 2013 to go #31 at NBADraft.com and #38 by DraftExpress.com, which is early in the 2nd round. A bigtime season could easily move him into the late 1st round.

But, there is talk from people close to the situation that CJ’s dad doesn’t want him to go into the draft early. Apparently, Craig Wilcox has really emphasized the importance of earning a degree and developing all the parts of his game that need to be improved. If CJ starts rising up to the level where GM’s are telling him he is a lottery pick, the thinking may change. But, it would not seem prudent to leave early if he were going to go in the 2nd round, since those contracts are not guaranteed. Thus, it is certainly not a sure fire thing that Wilcox will give up his final year of eligibility to chase the NBA dream.

One part of the decision making process that could come into play, much as it did for Isaiah Thomas, is simply how the roster will potentially affect his prospects at improving his stock during his final year. When Isaiah Thomas decided to leave Montlake, there were some obvious reasons. He was THE MAN during his junior season. But, with Tony Wroten coming in, plus the return of Abdul Gaddy, plus Terrance Ross, CJ Wilcox, and thinking Scott Suggs were all coming back, the guard position looked so stacked that you could only reasonably assume that his minutes and role on the team would change and his influence may diminish. It wouldn’t be that Thomas still wouldn’t have been a critical part of the team, but his best opportunity to shine might have past him. Would CJ Wilcox make that same decision if faced with an in-coming class that included players like Nigel Williams-Goss and potentially the likes of an Aaron Gordon, Jabari Brown, and/or Jabari Bird? Those players will/would want the ball in their hands and that would ultimately affect CJ’s opportunities. It will be interesting to see how that all plays out.

Then there is the big wildcard in all of this, and that is JC transfer Mark McLaughlin. The former Rivals 4-star recruit certainly took the long road to Montlake. But, he was a 4-star recruit for a reason, averaging 21.3 ppg at Inglemoor HS. Then, last year he was the nation’s leading junior college scorer at Tacoma Community College at 28.4 ppg. So, all indications are that the 6’6″ McLaughlin can fill it up. Whether his skill set will translate well in the more competitive Pac-12 remains to be seen. But, he was considered good enough that he committed to Washington State in 2007, before switching his commitment to Nevada. But, after coach Fox left Reno for Georgia, McLaughlin then switched again to Baylor of the Big 12 after going to a prep school. But, then he decided to back out of that commitment right before the season and went to Seattle U when it went Division I. But, after just 17 games he left the Redhawks and transferred to TCC.

One issue you have to consider, like with Isaiah Thomas’, is that he is a bit on the older side. McLaughlin is already 22 years old and has two years of eligibility remaining. With the NBA always so focused on potential and youth, potentially entering the league at 24 is a little on the old side. If McLaughlin has another big year, perhaps even scoring nearly 20 ppg, he might just find himself on the NBA draft radar. At 6’6″ he certainly has the size they are looking for from a shooting guard.

Whether he will have the same effectiveness on a team with plenty of established guards remains to be seen. He did only score 7.2 ppg in 17 minutes at Seattle U. He obviously picked it up at TCC. But, it is a quite the question mark of what he will do at UW. It is one thing when you are “The Man”. It can be quite different when the ball is in the hands of the starting PG (Abdul Gaddy) much of the time and if it does get passed to CJ Wilcox or Scott Suggs, it is probably going up from 3-point range. There are quite a few players  who will want the ball in their hands.

However, given the long road McLaughlin has traveled, if he starts showing up on NBA mock draft boards and starts hearing from GMs about his potential, he might just make the leap. I don’t think we can necessarily count on having him for two seasons. While I don’t necessarily think he would base his decision directly on what CJ Wilcox decides, clearly what they decide will have an impact on the other. If CJ decided to stay for an additional year, then McLaughlin’s opportunities to score might be reduced (and vice versa), especially considering who might join the team in 2013. But, if CJ declared for the draft, then McLaughlin could return for a second season much more in a leadership role and with more of a focus on him as a scorer.

Of the remaining underclassmen, there are not too many others on the roster who appear to be in a position to declare for the NBA draft in 2013 (or even 2014). Shawn Kemp Jr. might be a potential candidate for 2014 if he showed a big improvement this year and then came on for a monster 2013-14 season. I say this given his more advanced age and desire to move on to the next level. But, as of right now I do not see him as NBA material. But, you never know what kind of improvement we might see.

Perris Blackwell might be a 2014 candidate given his size and skill set. But, I do not know enough about him yet to make an informed judgement. I’ve only seen him play on TV once. Desmond Simmons seems like a real 4 year guy to me, so even if he were to start getting recognized, I figure he would be more likely in 2015. Then there is the one commitment for 2013 that we need to consider and that is Nigel Williams-Goss. Despite his obvious skills at the PG position and the real expectations that he will take over the starting PG position from Abdul Gaddy as a freshman, Williams-Goss does not appear to be the type of player both in terms of size, skill set, and attitude to be One-and-Done. Even if he were a can’t miss NBA prospect like a Jabari Parker or Aaron Gordon, the fact that he was deciding between UW and Harvard says to me that he will stick around for at least a substantial portion of his education before making the leap.

As for others, yes there are known one-and-done recruits UW is going after, such as the aforementioned Parker and Gordon. But, it isn’t worth talking about them until they sign their LOI somewhere. So, looking at who is currently at Washington and who has given their commitment so far, if you were to ask me who the next Husky player to enter the NBA will be, I would have to say the most likely one is Aziz N’Diaye. I think C.J. Wilcox has the best chance to be the highest draft pick of the mix. But, since we know Aziz will be in THIS draft and Wilcox might just wait until 2014, that is what I am going for.

My prediction is that the next Husky in the NBA will be Aziz N’Diaye!

But, while the future is bright, I think we might have to accept that no Huskies may be drafted in 2013, for only the 2nd time in 10 years.