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Draft Time Means Duke And ACC Prominence

Several more prospects this year, as usual.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Duke
Nov 5, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) drives to the basket against Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett (0) during the first half at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Surely you recall the NBA draft. Held annually since 1947 on the cusp of summer. June 20 last year.

The draft once extended into double-figure rounds, but narrowed in 1989 to the current two-round format. The 60-pick draft was linked to the NBA season, regularly occurring soon after the championship series ended. That was the ’20 plan until the COVID virus hit, delaying the pro season until the summer and the crowning of the championship club, this year the LA Lakers, to mid-October.

In June, while scrambling to recalibrate its scheduled events, the NBA moved the draft to October 16. Later the televised selection ritual moved to this coming Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Unlike many recent drafts, this one is not regarded as terribly rich in talent, lacks a clear No. 1 pick, and doesn’t have a Duke player who’s a lock for first-round selection. The most likely No. 1, according to published speculation, is either 6-8 point guard Lamelo Ball, late of Australian pro ball; Georgia’s 6-3 Anthony Edwards; or 7-1 James Wiseman of Memphis.

Mock drafts have Florida State players, 6-8 Patrick Williams and 6-7 Devin Vassell, going among the top dozen players and first from the ACC. This would be the fourth time in five seasons an FSU player went in the opening round, after Malik Beasley in 2016 (19th), Jonathan Isaac in 2017 (6th), and Chris Kabengele in 2019 (27th).

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton smiles coyly and speaks dismissively when outsiders praise his recruiting, but proves repeatedly that high-profile ratings like the McDonald’s All-America team are not definitive. This season he has the preseason pick for ACC Freshman of the Year, Scottie Barnes. The power forward was a McDonald’s pick and a former prep teammate of Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr.

The only other ACC player who shows up in the first round in every projected draft this year is North Carolina guard Cole Anthony, like FSU’s Williams a one-year collegian.

Of course where and by whom anyone will be selected this week is a matter of conjecture, not only on the night of the draft but in the following days as trades occur.

The draft consensus is mixed on Duke guard Tre Jones, by many estimates the most coveted Blue Devil. He’s projected to go late in the first round, or early in the second, anywhere from 27th to 45th.

Mike Krzyzewski’s program has produced at least one first-rounder every year since 2011, the longest run ever by an ACC school, providing 28.9 percent (28 of 97) of all first-round picks from the conference in this century.

The Sporting News and a few other sources have Carey down as a possible late first-rounder as well. Two others from the ACC appear in virtually every draft projection, mostly in the second round where contracts are infrequently guaranteed: Duke’s Cassius Stanley and Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes, the top scorer in the conference (19.03 average) in 2020.

Louisville’s Jordan Nwara, the ‘20 ACC preseason Player of the Year, and Virginia’s Mamidi Diakite show up in a few projections near the end of the draft.

Duke and ACC NBA Draft Picks This Century
(Duke Included in ACC Totals)
Year Duke Players Selected First Round
From ACC
Duke in 2nd
2019 (3) Williamson, Barrett, Redding 10 N/A
2018 (3) Bagley III, Carter Jr., Allen 6 Trent Jr.
2017 (3) Tatum, Kennard, Giles 10 Jackson
2016 (1) Ingram 4 N/A
2015 (3) Okafor, Winslow, Tyus Jones 7 N/A
2014 (2) Parker, Hood 5 N/A
2013 (1) Mason Plumlee 4 Kelly
2012 (2) Rivers, Miles Plumlee 6 N/A
2011 (2) Irving, Smith 5 Singler
2010 (0) 5 N/A
2009 (1) Henderson 7 N/A
2008 (0) 1 N/A
2007 (0) 6 McRoberts
2006 (2) S. Williams, Redick 3 N/A
2005 (0) 7 Ewing
2004 (1) Deng 1 Duhon
2003 (1) D. Jones 3 N/A
2002 (2) J. Williams, Dunleavy 4 Boozer
2001 (1) Battier 3 N/A