NBA = National Basketball…Australia?
Although the NBA Draft is still a fair way off, there are already players who are being highlighted as potential draftees. Thousands of players go through the rigors of balancing school and sport to try and make it on the biggest stage in Basketball, but at the end of the day there are only 60 whose dreams become a reality. That being said, I am so proud that there are 3 Australians who have a strong chance of being drafted.
Firstly, Patrick Mills. At the time of writing, Patrick Mills is averaging 19.8 points in 31 minutes, not to mention a healthy 2.3 assists per game. The guard currently is a sophomore at St Marys, and to say he is integral in their team is an understatement. However, it was in the Olympics where Pat made a name for himself. Being the only NCAA player in the tournament, he held his own against the more experienced US team, scoring 20 points with 2 steals. So good was Mills, he received glowing reviews from Team USA, with Chris Paul having this to say about him:
“Man, he’s fast. I read something that says he’s faster than me. They’re probably right. He can move.” [Source]
If Patrick Mills keeps up his consistency then there is no reason why he can’t be a solid first round pick. Draft Express currently have him ranked 15th in their mock draft.
Next up is AJ Ogilvy, playing for Vanderbilt. The sophomore is averaging over 15 points and 7 rebounds in 27 minutes. However, it was his rookie season where he really shined, with his outstanding skills making him a potential first round pick. AJ had a stellar Under 19 Championships and this was highlighted by his excellent field goal percentage. He plays with such passion and intensity that when under the ring he truly makes his position known. He is currently ranked 16th in Draft Express’ mock draft.
Fans of NCAA basketball will probably know the previously mentioned players quite well, but there may be a third player still playing in the Australian NBL that might sneak into the second round, and that player is Joe Ingles. The small forward shot into calculations from his rookie season playing for the South Dragons. Although “Jingles” as he is often coined, could have opted to nominate for the last draft, he chose to try and improve his skills in the same league that Nathan Jawai got drafted from. Jingles did not see a lot of game time during the Olympics, but he played well and this could lead to him being a potential pick. He can do everything and has a great basketball mind with the ability to read plays well. He is projected at 24 on Draft Express’ mock draft.
Australian basketball certainly has a bright future. With Andrew Bogut recently signing a lucrative long term deal with Milwaukee and Nathan Jawai about to start with Toronto, hopefully these three will become a welcome addition to an NBA team next season. Whilst the national league is in dire need of an overhaul, there are hundreds of Aussies at colleges all over America. The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has done a great job in educating and training these players to become professionals and is doing everything to ensure that their full potential is being realized.