The annual NBA draft is different from the first-year selection process of Major League Baseball and the National Football League in the simple fact it isn’t as drawn out and takes place in one day rather than made into a multiple-day media festival.
What we learned after Thursday night’s NBA draft for 2014 was that it might have been rich talent pool, but it wasn’t particularly rich with former Big 12 players who were of interest to the 32 NBA franchises.
Just five Big 12 players were selected in the draft, and they pretty much followed the form projected by many of the mock drafts prepared by college and NBA draft experts. Three of those selections, however, came within the first six overall picks in the draft.
In the days leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, the names of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas and Jabari Parker, a one-year product of Duke were bandied about as potential No. 1 picks, but come D-Day, as in Draft Day, it was Wiggins who took center stage first, the pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Despite being diagnosed with a fractured foot just days ahead of the draft, Embiid still went very high, at No. 3. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Embiid with their first of seven picks in this year’s two-round, 64-player draft.
Three picks after Embiid’s name was called out, Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year, became the top pick of the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick.
Wiggins is just the second No. 1 pick in Kansas basketball history. Danny Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft. This is the fifth consecutive year that at least two Kansas players have been selected in the dtaft.
Smart’s selection at No. 6 overall ties him with Bryant “Big Country” Reeves for the highest draft pick in Oklahoma State basketball history.
Markel Brown of Oklahoma State went in the second round to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 44th overall pick, and Cory Jefferson of Baylor was a second-round pick of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs at No. 60 overall.
Notable former Big 12 players who were left out of the draft were Big 12 Player of the Year this past season, Melvin Ejim of Iowa State and his Cyclone teammate DeAndre Kane. Both were in the top 10 in the Big 12 in scoring last season.
One Big 12 player who dreamed to play in the NBA and most likely would have been a draft pick on Thursday night had he not been diagnosed just days ago with a career-ending rare genetic condition known as Marfan syndrome is seven-foot Isaiah Austin from Baylor. Austin was ceremoniously recognized by NBA commissioner Adam Silver between the 15th and 16th selections and given the opportunity come on stage as he most likely would have had under different circumstances.
This is just the fifth time since 1985 that one conference has had three of the top six selections overall. This is the 17th time in the 18 years of the Big 12 that at least one player from the Big 12 was a first-round selection. It is also the second time since 2009 (Blake Griffin) that a Big 12 player has been the No. 1 pick overall in the draft.
Kansas leads all schools in the conference with 27 players chosen in the NBA draft in the Big 12 era. The Texas Longhorns are next with 16 draftees during that time. Iowa State and Oklahoma State have had eight each, followed by Oklahoma (7), Baylor (7), Texas Tech (3) and Kansas State (2).