MINNEAPOLIS - The 2020 NBA Draft, whenever it is held, will have plenty of Minnesota connections as players start a journey they’ve only dream of since they were kids.
The NBA Draft is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 25. That, like everything else, is subject to change due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s likely to go fully-virtual, much like the WNBA and NFL Drafts went.
Hundreds of prospects put their name in the draft process after the NCAA was canceled due to Covid-19. Those that want to return to school originally had to pull their name from the draft process by June 3, but the NCAA pushed that back on Wednesday to a time to be determined. Here’s a look at the Minnesota flavor at this point.
The writing was on the wall for University of Minnesota sophomore Daniel Oturu, who had one of the more dominant frontcourt seasons in recent Gophers history. He led the Gophers in scoring (20.1 points) and rebounding (11.3), and was the only player in the NCAA to put up those numbers last season. He was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection. NBADraft.net has the Woodbury native and former Cretin-Derham Hall star potentially a first round pick, which would be the Gophers' first since Kris Humphries in 2004.
In a bit of a surprise, Gophers point guard Marcus Carr put his name in the NBA Draft process after the season. He has reportedly made it clear to the coaching staff he wants to return to the team next season and is seeking input from NBA evaluators. Carr started all 31 games this past season, averaging 15.4 points per game while shooting 36.1 percent from the perimeter and was a Third Team All-Big Ten pick. He shouldered the load at point guard, leading the Big Ten in minutes played at 36.8 per game. Carr is not projected to be drafted, and should return to school.
Apple Valley native Tre Jones looks to be the second member of his own family selected in the NBA Draft. The Timberwolves traded up in the 2016 draft to take his brother, Tyus Jones, who is now with the Memphis Grizzlies. Tre Jones was named the ACC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and was named First Team All-ACC. He was also Second Team All-American after averaging 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 42.6 percent from the field.
Former Hopkins star Zeke Nnaji made the most of one season at the University of Arizona. He was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac 12 after leading the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding. He averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 32 starts. He led the Pac-12 with 14 double-doubles, which ranks second in program history among freshman. He scored in double figures in 29 of 32 games, and had 10 games where scored at least 20 points. Nnaji is a projected first round pick.
Former Champlin Park star guard McKinley Wright is probably expected to return for one more year of school, but put his name in the draft process to get feedback for the next level. He’s Colorado’s active career leader in points (910) and assists (342). He earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors two seasons ago, leading the Buffaloes with 13 points, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 35 games. Last season, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and nearly five assists per game.
Former East Ridge standout Freddie Gillespie played two seasons at Baylor after transferring from Division III Carleton College in Northfield. He averaged 9.6 points, nine rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, seeing action in 30 games while playing more than 28 minutes per contest. He played in 26 games and made 11 starts as a redshirt junior.
Former DeLaSalle star Tyrell Terry declared for the NBA Draft after a standout freshman season at Stanford. He was named All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention and to the All-Freshman Team after starting every game for the Cardinal last season, averaging 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 31 games. He also shot 40.8 percent from three-point range. Projections have Terry being a second round pick.
Former Austin standout Both Gach declared for the NBA Draft after two seasons at the University of Utah. Gach started 25 of 27 games last season and averaged 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists while playing more than 31 minutes per game. He became the third player in Utah history to record a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Mississippi Valley State last November.
These players now have more time to ponder their pro futures, with the NCAA extending the NBA Draft deadline past June 3 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.