Australians have had their names called during the NBA draft, as early as 1969, when Carl Rodwell was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. We’ve had standouts fly the Australian flag, like when Luc Longley went on to get drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1991, and have a productive career in the league.
But it’s only been in recent years, that we’re seeing a growing wave of Australian talent emerge and join the bright lights of the NBA as solid contributors. Ben Simmons being drafted first in the 2016 NBA draft has undoubtedly put Australia on the map even more.
The 2018 NBA draft is yet to come, but we’re seeing a wave of names emerge as early entrants, including those who’ve declared for the draft, and those who will graduate this year, and become draft-eligible. These include names like William McDowell-White, Deng Adel, Matur Maker, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr and Jock Landale, among others (list of early entrants via CBSSports.com).
McDowell-White, who signed a multi-year deal in Germany last year with Baunach and averaged 12.5 points, 6.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals with the team, recently declared his intention to enter the coming NBA draft.
“As a competitor, I am excited to enter the NBA draft and compete at the highest level,” McDowell-White told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
“I want to showcase my skills and meet with the NBA teams who have not had the opportunity to see me in Bamberg,” McDowell-White said. “NBA teams will get a chance to know more about me as a competitor as well as learn how versatile and athletic I am as a player. I’m excited to show teams how I am a quick learner whose skills are continuing to improve.”
'Before I was really just starting to play the PG position… I can play with the gifts I've been given being a bigger PG + seeing the floor…'
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) April 9, 2018
Adel, who averaged 15 points over the past season for the Louisville Cardinals, worked out for multiple NBA teams last year, but ended up withdrawing from last year’s draft. According to The Courier-Journal’s Jeff Greer, Adel made known his NBA intentions on his Instagram account.
Deng Adel’s Instagram post confirming his plans: pic.twitter.com/g5px5h3ere
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) April 9, 2018
Thon Maker, who’s currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, was very positive about his brother’s chances in the coming draft. When interviewed by The Pick and Roll, the centre described Matur Maker’s declaration for the draft as a “relief” for the younger Maker.
“He’s playing freely now. Just cleared his mind and working on his game non-stop. He had a great showing when the scouts were in Canada to see him. He’s still got a few more tournaments to go. After that, he’ll prepare for the pre-draft process. He’s going to be good.
Maker good-humouredly suggested himself as being the better basketballer, but described his brother as having a “killer mindset”.
“Intense. Attack. Competitor. He’s a winner,” The Milwaukee big man said. “[Matur] is a hard worker. Communicates non-stop.
“He’s good. He’s going to be really good.”
Landale, who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds this season with St Mary’s, was described by The Pick and Roll’s Damian Arsenis as a possible candidate for being the best centre in college hoops. Despite his standout season, Landale’s traditional post game does not fit into the mould of modern NBA big men, and could end up as a possible second-rounder.
Landale and Lual-Acuil Jr will be participating in this year’s Portsmouth Invitational, to showcase their skills one more time before NBA scouts.
According to the Townsville Bulletin, Harry Froling, who will be playing with the QBL’s Townsville Heat, indicated the NBA would be a goal, although one that might not necessarily happen this year.
“I’m here to win a championship with these guys and then look at my future with the NBL and Europe and then hopefully the NBA in a couple of years with the draft,” said Froling.
It’s also worth mentioning that Jack McVeigh, who recently announced his desire to leave Nebraska and head home on his own podcast, made clear he was turning pro and not looking at the NBA, but NBL-bound.
“[The NBL is] going to be a 3-year deal, 3-year plan right there… After that, who knows? I might stay, have another crack at the whole American deal, just see where it takes me from there. But [I’m] definitely not done playing, that’s for sure.”
It’s unlikely that we’ll see every Australian called to the podium on draft night, but the rising trend of young Australians who are putting themselves forward as potential participants on the world’s biggest basketball league, is gratifying nonetheless.