Happy draft week! Last night, two Buckeyes were selected in the same NBA Draft for the first time since 2007, when Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Daequan Cook all went in the first round. The Buckeyes have had six players taken in the draft over the last decade, but there were certainly a handful of guys who weren’t taken whom we thought deserved to go. We’ll talk about two of them momentarily.
Last week, Connor and Justin picked which 2024 recruit they thought Ohio State should prioritize now that the recruiting dead period is over. Connor picked the No. 1 player in the state of Ohio (No. 60 overall) Tyler McKinley. Justin picked the No. 3 player in the state of Virginia (No. 49 overall) from Fairfax, Darren Harris. Both big, strong forwards. Both very talented. But Connor won the vote in a landslide.
After 54 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
This week, we’re showing how not bitter we are at all about two Buckeyes not getting drafted in previous drafts. Especially over the past decade, there have been a handful of Ohio State players who we thought would get drafted, but wound up still sitting at home with no takers. Which Buckeye hooper were you sure was going to be drafted – and then wasn’t?
Today’s question: Which former Ohio State men’s basketball player should have been drafted?
Connor: Duane Washington Jr.
Is it cheating to pick the guy who is having success in the NBA? Because it seems that the most logical answer to this question should be someone who went on to find success in the league despite not being drafted, like Duane Washington Jr.
Duane Washington Jr. was pretty much universally disliked among Big Ten fanbases because he more likely than not blew up against their favorite team at least one time. He was a talented, streaky shooter who took shots that made your head hurt, but could also knock down six or seven shots in a row to completely take a game over.
He put his team on his back during the 2021 Big Ten Tournament, averaging 23 points per game as the fifth-seeded Buckeyes lost to Illinois in overtime of the Big Ten Championship game. He averaged 16.4 points per game as a junior, knocked down 37.5% of his threes, and shot 41% overall. He was also adept at slashing to the basket, contorting himself in ways most post-pubescent men can’t to finish with both his left and right hands. He was, as they say … a bucket.
Washington didn’t initially get an NBA Combine invitation, but he turned heads at the NBA G-League Elite Camp and earned a last second “call up” to the NBA Combine. He impressed scouts against at the Combine, especially during five-on-five drills, and shot up draft boards. Washington was initially 10 miles off draft boards – he wasn’t even an afterthought to an afterthought. But after the Combine, some mock drafts had him going in the final few picks of the second round, meaning he was at least on the radar.
Washington went undrafted and signed a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers, which was later converted into a normal NBA contract. He spent some time with the G-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but wound up playing the majority of the season in Indianapolis with the Pacers.
After breaking into the rotation for good in late-December, Washington went on to play in 48 games for the Pacers, averaging 9.9 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He averaged 20.2 minutes per game, shot 40% overall, and 37.7% from three – pretty close to his college averages.
With his contract now being of the official NBA variety and his being a near-double digit scorer last season, I think this goes to show that Duane Washington has solidified himself as an NBA player and deserved to be drafted in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Justin: William Buford
I am not saying this as an exaggeration at all: I think Buford might be the best shot creator I have ever watched at Ohio State (calm down I am 25). He was a guy who knew how to create and get to his spots better than anyone else, similar to Malaki Branham this season.
Mr. Buford came to Ohio State with some lofty expectations as the defending Ohio Mr. Basketball from Libbey High School in Toledo, and was one of the highest ranked recruits the Buckeyes had brought in after averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds per game while earning All-State honors during his senior season.
His freshman year at Ohio State, he played in all 33 games and started in 25 of them. He averaged a modest 11 points per game and shot 36 percent from deep as well as 45 percent from the field.
Through his next three seasons, Buford averaged 14.4, 14.4 and 14.5 points per game. He was fairly efficient and very consistent, shooting 45 percent from the field, 38 percent from three and 80 percent from the free throw line during his career. He averaged 13.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through his Buckeye career.
The reason I thought Buford would be at least someone the NBA might take a flyer on is because of his ceiling, and it was a ceiling that he maximized both overseas and in, “The Basketball Tournament.” He is a guy who doesn’t really have a weak spot in his offensive game, and while his defense needed work, that normally isn’t a deal breaker for teams.
In his 10 seasons overseas and brief stint in the G League for the Santa Cruz Warriors, Buford has carved out his role as a star and dominant offensive player, even winning TBT MVP in 2019 when Carmen’s Crew took home that championship.
Especially when seeing a guy like Branham just go first round in the draft last night, it is impossible not to think about Buford and how he never got a real chance. I am a huge Jon Diebler fan, but I am stunned he was drafted and not Buford. But congrats to Will for still having a great pro career regardless.
Which former Ohio State player should have heard their name called in the draft?
Duane Washington Jr. (Connor)
William Buford (Justin)
10 votes total