Indiana Daily Student

NBA Draft Recap: Where the Big Ten’s biggest names landed compared to our writers’ predictions

Then-Iowa sophomore forward Keegan Murray reacts after a play against Purdue during the Big Ten Championship on March 13, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Then-Iowa sophomore forward Keegan Murray reacts after a play against Purdue during the Big Ten Championship on March 13, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Big Ten was chock-full of talent during the 2021-2022 season, and many of the conference’s most successful players went on to pursue a career at the next level, leaving college for the NBA Draft. Top prospects like Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, Iowa’s Keegan Murray and Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis lived up to their collegiate hype, while former stars like Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell dropped lower than expected. Three of the Indiana Daily Student’s basketball reporters — Kamil Gut, Patrick Felts and Matt Sebree — previewed the Big Ten’s best to predict where they might end up on draft day. 

Keegan Murray, Iowa

2021-2022 resume: First-Team All-American, Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year, Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player, First-Team All-Big Ten 

Gut: Top-8 (Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trailblazers, New Orleans Pelicans) — “Outside of the Paolo Banchero’s, Jabari Smith Jr. 's and Chet Holmgren’s of the world, Murray looks like he will ease into the NBA as quickly as anyone. He's capable of pouring in points from anywhere on the floor, with the potential to be a lights-out shooter and good defender at the pro level due to his size.”

Felts: 4 (Kings) — “The Kings think they can compete for the Playoffs now. We’ll see about that, but if they fancy themselves contenders, you’d be hard pressed to find a player more pro ready than Murray. A lethal shooter at the wing who pairs well with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, Murray would be a great fit here.”

Selection: 4th (Kings)

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

2021-2022 resume: Consensus second-team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten

Sebree: 4 (Kings) — “He’s the best player outside of the consensus top-3 and I believe he has the potential to be the best overall player in the draft, in the long term.”

Gut: 4 or 5 (Kings, Pistons) — “Ivey is a talented, physical guard who can finish at the rim and draw extra attention from opposing defenses to create openings for teammates. The Kings already have De'Aaron Fox, but the loss of Tyrese Haliburton opens up competition with Davion Mitchell at the 2-spot. If the former Purdue star falls to No. 5, the Pistons would be wise to lock down Ivey as Cade Cunningham's backcourt partner.” 

Felts: 6 (Pacers) — “A native Hoosier starting for the Pacers? Sign me up. More importantly, he would be a natural fit next to Tyrese Haliburton, a slashing guard next to an elite playmaking point guard. If his defense improves, he’ll be a star at the next level.”

Selection: 5th (Pistons)

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin:

2021-2022 resume: Big Ten Player of the Year, First-Team All-American, Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year, First-Team All-Big Ten

Gut: 10-12 (Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, Thunder) — “The Big Ten Player of the Year can create basically any shot for himself, but his perimeter shooting knocks him a few spots lower than he could be. His best opportunities to grow would come with the Wizards, Knicks and Thunder, who are lacking true depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions.”

Selection: 10th (Wizards)

Malaki Branham, Ohio State:

2021-2022 resume: Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Third-Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Freshman Team

Gut: 15-20 (Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs) — “Branham ran the show at Ohio State last season, working effectively in pick-and-rolls and driving down the lane. He has enough talent and silky movement to create separation and find easy shots for himself near the post, and he's confident when it comes to finishing those chances.”

Felts: 17 (Rockets) — “The Rockets have a pair of first rounders this year. If they go with the big Paolo Banchero at 3, a guard like Branham could be an interesting addition to a team that already has Jalen Green.”

Selection: 20th (Spurs)

E.J. Liddell, Ohio State: 

2021-2022 resume: Third-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Defensive Team

Sebree: first round — “He’s been dominating the Big Ten seemingly forever, but I think he’ll end up falling, because he’s slightly undersized for an NBA big man.”

Selection: 41st (Pelicans)

Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers: 

2021-2022 resume: Honorable Mention All-American, Second-Team All-Big Ten 

Sebree: first round — “He’s one of the most clutch players to come through the conference in recent years. Also, having a versatile skill set for a wing makes me think someone will reach for him.”

Selection: undrafted, signed with Toronto Raptors

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois:

2021-2022 resume: First-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten

Sebree: second round — “I think he has the physical talent to succeed at the next level, but his impact won't be immediate.”

Felts: 51 (Golden State Warriors) — “Cockburn doesn’t fit the typical Golden State philosophy of versatile offensive big men like Draymond Green, but what he does bring to the table is defense. He could help the champs with Kevon Looney headed to free agency, splitting minutes at the five with former lottery pick James Wiseman.”

Selection: undrafted, signed with Utah Jazz

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