They took different paths to the cusp of the NBA, but a pair of players who spent four years playing basketball in the Little Apple have a chance to be selected in the league’s annual draft on Thursday night.
Rodney McGruder was a decorated four-star guard out of Upper Marlboro, MD, and leaves K-State as one of its all-time greats. He averaged a team-high 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds during his senior season, in which he was named 1st team all-Big 12.
However, McGruder’s transition to the NBA may be a difficult one, as he is not projected to be selected in any of the major mock drafts. DraftExpress.com ranks McGruder as the #55 college senior in the draft. Wildcat head coach Bruce Weber though likes what he’s heard from NBA scouts.
“Probably a chance at maybe a second round pick,” Weber said. “The other part is just getting with the right team. The Spurs were a great example of the success of some of those guys who weren’t draft picks. Rodney has the mindset, mental toughness, and work ethic where he’s going to work to reach his goal.”
The path towards McGruder possibly sticking in the NBA is to hone a specific skill and do it better than most.
“You need a niche in the NBA,” Weber said. “One would be three-point shooting as he has a little bit of size, and another could be ball handling as since we got here, we really worked on his ball handling and passing. An old NBA coach once told me, 85 percent of guys in the NBA are role players, and the quicker they understand that, the better chance they have of making it.”
Options were few for Manhattan High grad Jackie Carmichael after leading the Tribe to the state tournament his senior season. Carmichael opted to go to prep school and eventually landed at Illinois State, where the six-foot-nine-inch forward became a first team all-Missouri Valley pick. Many experts think he’ll be a solid second round pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
“I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder,” Carmichael said. “I do something have to prove to all these teams. Even though I didn’t play in a power conference, I’m still a player who can play in the NBA and be a successful role player.”
Carmichael averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Redbirds this past season, and shot 53 percent from the floor. He spent most of his time in the post and knows he’ll have to expand his game.
“In the NBA, you have to be able to stretch floor as a 4,” Carmichael said. “That’s been a primary focus of mine, just working on my jump shot and being able to take bigger, slower guys off the dribble. Coach (Tim) Jankovich also sat me down and told me I need to be a better rebounder, that I need to be a 10 rebounds or plus (per game) guy to make it.”
In ESPN’s Chad Ford’s latest mock draft, he has Carmichael being selected in the 2nd round, at pick #42 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Draft Express.com predicts Carmichael will be picked by the Dallas Mavericks at #44 overall.
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