Does Wesley Saunders have a shot of getting taken in the NBA Draft?
History says … um, no.
Jerome Allen remains the last Ivy player selected in the NBA Draft, taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round in 1995. (The last Crimson player to be taken in the draft was Keith Webster, by the Utah Jazz, in 1987.)
But what about a guy who wins an Ivy crown in every year of his collegiate career, ranked No. 46 in ESPN’s countdown of top 100 players in college basketball and was always an ace in the biggest games of his career, a guy who was the greatest scorer, ball distributor, pocket-picker and clutch player in the league over the past couple of seasons?
Of course, Saunders was that guy, and several NBA Draft prognosticators have taken notice.
CBS Sports currently has Saunders ranked No. 75 in its NBA Draft Prospect rankings, which isn’t far off its No. 73 ranking for Saunders when previewing the NBA Draft Combine, which was held this week. In fact, CBS Sports had Saunders ranked No. 96 in its ranking just a month ago, so it would appear that Saunders’ draft stock is rising.
Unfortunately, there are only 60 total selections in the NBA Draft, and Saunders is easily on the outside looking in.
I think DraftExpress.com’s evaluation of Saunders last month underestimated Saunders’ defensive skills, calling him “a bit of a mixed bag” when he’s been a consistently outstanding on-the-ball defender both in and out of conference play. I do agree that Saunders would struggle to get to the rim at the NBA level and that his outside shooting will be a crucial sell throughout the evaluation process. Ultimately, as DraftExpress notes, “Even if Saunders doesn’t get drafted, he should find numerous professional opportunities and may play his way into the NBA at some point during his career.” That’s for sure.