Pop quiz: Who was the last WSU player to be drafted by an NBA team?
If you said Klay Thompson at 11th overall in 2011, you’re right. (Although, if you said Xavier Thames at 59th overall in the second round back in 2014, you get some very depressing bonus points.)
It’s been seven years since a Coug has taken part in the spectacle known as NBA Draft Thursday. This year, Robert Franks was hoping to change that. But after failing to receive an NBA Draft Combine invite, Franks decided to return to WSU for his senior season.
A Washington State player won’t hear their name called on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch with a rooting interest. According to the handy NBA mock draft aggregate tool at Hoops Hype, five players that faced WSU last season are expected to be drafted this week.
In an effort to give context to the highlight videos that will no doubt be loaded with plays from WSU games, those five players are listed below. Along with their CougCenter power ranking (based solely on their performance against Washington State and nothing else), we have listed a recap of just how badly the mauled the Cougs and where they’re expected to be selected.
Deandre Ayton - Arizona
Aggregate projection: 1 Overall
CougCenter ranking: 1/5
When the Wildcats walked into Beasley Coliseum on January 31st, everyone saw a blowout coming. But to the surprise of many, the Cougs were able to keep it close through the second media timeout.
With 11:42 to play in the first, Washington State was knotted up with Arizona at 20-20... But that’s when Ayton kicked it into high gear. He powered through contact for and one layups, and soared above the defense like a man half his size. Just like that, the game that was once tied at 20, was now a 45-25 affair with four minutes to play in the half.
At the end of the day, Ayton had played just 25 minutes, tying for the least he played all season, but stiff managed to go 11 for 12 from the field with 25 points and 11 rebounds. An effortless performance from the future number one draft pick millionaire.
Aaron Holiday - UCLA
Aggregate projection: 18 Overall
CougCenter ranking: 2/5
Unlike Ayton, Holiday played a full 40 minutes against WSU when the Cougs visited Pauley Pavilion on December 29th. But a lot like Ayton, Holiday scored a lot of points against Washington State.
The junior put up a then career-high 33 points, going 11 for 18 from the floor including and impressive 5 for 5 from beyond the arc. On top of that, he also pulled down 11 boards for the double-double.
The small guard is expected to go mid-first round and join his brother Jrue and Justin in the show.
Rawle Alkins - Arizona
Aggregate Projection: 43 Overall
CougCenter Ranking: 3/5
Alkins only played 16 minutes in the aforementioned Arizona Rout of WSU. But he made it count. We mentioned early during Ayton’s profile that Arizona went on a 25-5 first half run to put the game away early, and Alkins was a big part of that. He buried three consecutive three-pointers during that run. He would add a fourth later in the game, going a perfect 4 for 4 from deep and 6 for 8 from the floor. He did it all while battling through a lingering early season foot injury.
Alkins is considered by many as an underdog heading into the Draft, but he’s not expected to go any higher than the second round.
Troy Brown - Oregon
Aggregate Projection: 20th overall
CougCenter ranking: 4/5
The previously three prospects played just one game apiece against Washington State. But Brown, had three chances to take on the Cougs, all coming in a one month span from mid-February to mid-march’s meeting in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Cougar defense held Brown mostly in check in the first meeting in Eugene, an 84-57 blowout Duck win. Brown put up 16 points on 4 of 9 shooting, but he made his impact on the board, pulling down 10 rebounds.
Brown shot better in the second meeting of the season in Pullman, going 7 for 10 from the floor for 17 points. But in this one, Brown committed the ultimate sin that a prospect can make in our CougCenter power rankings: lose to WSU. Washington State won a 78-76 thriller, picking up their 4th conference victory of the year.
Brown rebounded from there leading the ducks to an OT win over Washington State at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Brown didn’t play well on the offensive side, but so did the entire Duck squad who put up 17 points in the opening half. Brown shot just 20% from the floor and going 0 for 3 from deep in 41 minutes on the floor. But he was able to pull down 11 total boards to make up for it.
Chimezie Metu - USC
Aggregate Projection: 48 Overall
CougCenter Ranking: 6/5
Chimezie Metu is worse than last on our list because of the very bad thing he did. NBA teams should be wary of the USC junior because of that thing of which I will not speak of.
It should also be noted that USC’s De’Anthony Melton will probably be drafted Thursday. He didn’t play his sophomore year due to the ongoing FBI investigation, but he scored 5 points against WSU in his freshman season.
The draft gets started in Brooklyn on Thursday night at 4 PM on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, WatchESPN, the ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN the Magazine and (presumably) in the ESPNzone.