by Zach DiSchiano, publisher
This could be a statement year for Texas basketball with five potential first round picks in tonight’s draft hailing from the Lone Star State.
Emmanuel Mudiay (Arlington), Justise Winslow (Houston), and Myles Turner (Euless) are considered near-locks to be selected in the top-10 of the 2015 NBA draft, and all three chose unique paths to get to this point.
Mudiay originally committed to play for Larry Brown at SMU back in August of 2013, but instead opted to go the international route and play for the prestigious Guandong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 12 games. The 6’5 slashing point guard draws comparisons to John Wall and Russell Westbrook, and is expected to be the first Texan taken off the board.
Coached by the great Mike Krzyzewski, Winslow might be the most fundamentally sound freshman in this year’s class. He spent only one year at Duke, but he was productive and efficient throughout the regular season and tournament, providing reliable scoring and strong defending on the way to a national championship victory. Winslow is another player that could be selected in the top-5, and has the potential to be a perrenial all star in the NBA.
Turner is the only member of the state’s top-3 prospects to stay in Texas, and while he did not put up big-time numbers, the potential scouts see in him is limitless. At 6’11 with a 7’4 wingspan, the center moves around like a small forward. His ability to face up and knock down jumpers (he hit 40 percent of his 3-point attempts at Texas) make him a prized talent in today’s NBA. Turner will likely go in the top-10 of this draft, and should provide immediate help to whichever team selects him.
Fort Bend has a few names to boast in this year’s draft in Kansas forward Kelly Oubre and Kentucky guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Oubre is expected to be taken in the mid-late first round, while the Harrison twins are hoping to hear their name called before the 60th pick.
Joseph Young (Houston) is an intruiging player to watch coming out of the University of Oregon, where he lit up the scoreboard night in and night out. As a senior, his game is more polished than some of the aforementioned names, but as an undersized point guard who likes to shoot more than pass, he will have to improve other aspects of his game if he wants to make a major impact at the next level.
Jonathan Holmes (San Antonio) and Terran Pettaway (Galveston) are two more upperclassmen who are projected to go somewhere in the second round. Holmes could elevate any team’s defense with his presence, and Pettaway is a guy who can come in off the bench and give a boost to the offense. Jordan Mickey is a talented young forward known for his defensive presence in the paint. At LSU, he led the NCAA in blocks and was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team in 2014.
The overwhelming number of prospects from Texas that may potentially be selected in this year’s draft is evidence that the talent here is stronger than ever. As more and more elite players emerge from the state, it is clear that Texas is on its way to becoming the No. 1 place for youth basketball development, and the best state to recruit top-tier talent.