Getting selected in the NBA Draft is a dream for every young basketball player. For Big Ten stars, they have already made it so far in their basketball careers and are clearly very good at basketball. But to make that next step and be an NBA draft pick is so very difficult, only possible for the very best of the very best. Five Big Ten players were drafted Thursday, with Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller of Indiana, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. of Michigan and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State entering the NBA. Those five players who were drafted also happened to make up the All-Big Ten first team selected by the coaches.
But what about everyone else in the Big Ten? There were more than just five stars in the best conference of America. Well, for those college stars who went undrafted, they still have a shot at the NBA, as many will now join summer league teams and try to either make it on an NBA roster, in the D-League or in Europe.
Illinois‘ star shooting guard Brandon Paul decided to return for his senior season last year instead of entering the 2012 NBA Draft. Paul averaged 17 points and four rebounds a game in his final season with Illinois, but his detractors will cite the lack of consistency and maturity along with his questionable defending for the Illini. Paul was expected to be a late second round pick at best but ended up going undrafted. Paul will have a shot at the NBA however, after tweeting, “Can’t wait until Summer League! Another great opportunity, you can catch me in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey!”
Paul will be a longshot to even make it to veteran camp for Minnesota, much less make the team. But he does now have a chance to push his way onto the NBA radar after not being drafted.
A pair of Big Ten big men also signed with NBA teams as Wisconsin‘s Mike Berggren signed with the Orlando Magic and Minnesota‘s Rodney Williams was picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers. I wouldn’t bet against Berggren, specifically, making it onto an NBA roster next year.
Other former Big Ten standouts who went undrafted and remain unsigned include Derrick Nix, Trevor Mbakwe and Jordan Hulls. For them, all they can do is keep hope and wait for their phone to ring.
Getting drafted into the NBA is every player’s dream, but NBA dreams don’t just die after the draft.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter at @alexdalecbb.