The 2021 NBA Draft has the makings of being a Big 12-dominated affair.
A look at five different NBA Draft sites, ranging from CBSSports.com to NBADraftRoom.com, found that four to five Big 12 players might be drafted if the Draft were held right now. These rankings ranged from overall player rankings to 1-round and 2-round mock drafts, so much can change between now and next offseason.
But there is a consensus — Oklahoma State guard/forward Cade Cunningham is, at least for now, the No. 1 overall pick. All five sites had Cunningham at No. 1. At 6-foot-8 he was the No. 1 recruit in the nation in the 2020 Class. If the NBA didn’t have the rule barring high school seniors from going straight to the NBA, Cunningham likely wouldn’t even be at OSU. He probably would have been a lottery pick in the recent NBA Draft.
But Cunningham isn’t the only potential lottery pick. Texas freshman Greg Brown, a 6-foot-9 forward, has the potential to be a lottery pick next year, should he decide to declare for the NBA after this season. Brown ranged from No. 10 to No. 19 in the sites surveyed. A strong freshman season could solidify his potential to be taken in the lottery.
Two other Big 12 players found themselves consistently in the first round. Baylor guard Jared Butler, 6-foot-3, is projected as a late first-round pick right now, ranging from No. 20 to No. 29. Butler is a Naismith Player of the Year candidate. Butler took a peek into the past NBA Draft, but he decided to come back for his junior year.
Texas Tech guard Terrence Shannon Jr., 6-foot-6, is drawing comparisons to former Red Raider Zhaire Smith, who was taken No. 16 overall two years ago. Shannon was projected as high as No. 15 on the sites surveyed, but dropped into the second round on two of those sites. But a strong season from Shannon could make him a likely first-rounder.
The only other Big 12 player found in two more of the sites surveyed was West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who at 6-foot-9 is considered one of the nation’s top forwards. Tshiebwe was a second-round pick in two of those draft rankings, going as high as No. 34 overall.
But there are several other Big 12 players worth watching. Kansas guard Marcus Garrett and West Virginia guard Miles McBride slipped into the second round in one site’s two-round mock draft. Baylor has two other guards who could earn NBA looks — Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague. West Virginia forward Derek Culver was the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic MVP and could start drawing more looks from scouts. Oklahoma State point guard Isaac Likekele declared for the NBA Draft last offseason, mainly to get his draft grade and learn what NBA teams wanted him to work on this season. Oklahoma forward Brady Manek enters his senior year with a chance to impress.
And there are other freshmen who could declare after a big season. Two to watch are with Texas Tech — Nimari Burnett and Micah Peavy, the latter of which is already starting for the Red Raiders.
The point is the 2021 Draft class from the Big 12 could lap the 2020 class, which featured a lottery pick in Iowa State’s Tyrese Halliburton, two other first-round picks in Kansas center Udoka Azubuike and TCU guard Desmond Bane, plus a second-round selection in Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey.
And the season is just a week old.
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