The NBA Draft went down on Thursday night and 58 picks were made, 7 of them came from SEC teams. Unsurprisingly, Missouri wasn’t one of those teams. Kentucky had two players drafted, Auburn had two, Tennessee, Alabama, and LSU each had one player drafted.
Mizzou has not had a player taken in the NBA draft since Michael Porter, Jr was taken at 14 in the 2018 draft. Porter is just one of 2 active NBA players who attended Missouri: Jordan Clarkson is the other.
That’s the same number as Pitt (Steven Adams and Justin Champagnie) and Washington State (Klay Thompson and Clay Elleby). Which seems about the company Mizzou has been running in over the most recent years. Lowly, also-ran, high majors. There are 10 SEC programs with more (Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Georgia). Only Mississippi State (0), South Carolina (1), and Ole Miss (1) have fewer NBA players currently.
So it’s clear at this stage why Missouri has been lagging behind in the SEC race each year. Producing NBA players (or recruiting them) is the key to success in large part. Recently, Mike Boynton tweeted this deep thought out:
College hoopers! No matter what your agent, cousin, uncle, trainer, or mentor tells you, WINNING MATTERS. Only 2 players who played on losing CBB teams were drafted. TWO!!! There were several drafted who didn’t put up big numbers. WINNING MATTERS! #Impactwinning— Mike Boynton (@thacoachmike) June 24, 2022
It’s a great slogan. But the reason Oklahoma State was a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago was because Boynton signed Cade Cunningham, who ended up to the top pick in the draft. It’s the ultimate “Chicken or the Egg” conversation.
Winning matters, but you win with good players. Good players typically are attractive to NBA teams. The more players you have who could be drafted, the more likely you are to win big in College Basketball. It’s a crazy thing to say, I know. The players Mizzou has had drafted since Norm Stewart retired were all players who impacted winning. Keyon Dooling, Kareem Rush, Demarre Carroll, Linas Kleiza.
Nobody is asking Mizzou to become Kentucky (the clubhouse leader of all schools with 29 players) or Duke (second with 21), There are ways to be really really good as a team and not have any players drafted. Villanova made the Final Four this season and didn’t have anyone drafted. But the Wildcats also have 9 players in the NBA currently.
Back to Chicken or the Egg. Dennis Gates (and Charlton Young) have a little history developing NBA level talent at FSU, but it’s typically difficult to take credit for a player when you’re not the head coach. The early returns in the staff’s pursuits are ambitious, and it may take some time before Gates and his staff start regularly sending players to the NBA draft. But something tells me when Missouri starts winning more, it will coincide with a few more draft picks.