The 2017 NBA Draft took place Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.. Three former Michigan players — Derrick Walton Jr., D.J. Wilson and Zak Irvin — anticipated possible selections, waiting to learn their next basketball destination.
Wilson, however, was the only one to find out Thursday, as the Milwaukee Bucks drafted the 6-foot-10 forward with the 17th pick in the first round.
Walton and Irvin were not among the 60 players selected in the draft, but both players reportedly accepted invitations to play in the NBA Summer League — Walton with the Orlando Magic as reported by MLive’s Brendan Quinn and Irvin with the Miami Heat according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. If Walton and Irvin impress in Summer League competition, they can earn an invitation to an NBA training camp in hopes of eventually signing a professional contract.
Most sources had projected Wilson as a late first-round pick, while Walton and Irvin were both predicted to either go late in the second round or undrafted.
Wilson becomes the sixth Wolverine in the last five years to be drafted in the first round, joining Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway in 2013, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary in 2014 and Caris LeVert a year ago.
This scenario didn’t seem likely at the onset of the Sacramento, Calif. native’s college career. With injuries and inconsistency playing a role, Wilson averaged just 5.9 minutes and 2.3 points per game his first two seasons.
However, Wilson was finally able to show off his unique skill set this season, and shot onto NBA teams’ draft radars. He used his 7-foot-3 wingspan to average 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, and also displayed a smooth shooting stroke for a player his size, knocking down 37 percent of his three-point attempts and scoring 11 points per contest.
The Bucks, a young, lengthy and athletic team built around 6-foot-11 star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, were attracted to Wilson for his physical tools and versatility.
“Watching him on film, he fits the DNA of the Bucks, being able to play multiple positions,” said Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd in a press conference after the draft.
Walton, a four-year starter at point guard for Michigan, averaged 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as a senior while shooting 42 percent from distance. The Detroit native also ranks fourth in Wolverine history in assists and three-pointers made. Despite Walton’s decorated college career and his ability to score, rebound and run an offense, he was only projected to be drafted late in the second round if at all, due in large part to his short stature at just six feet tall.
Irvin appeared in 142 games in his Michigan career, tied for the most all-time, and also ranks third in program history for three-pointers. In his final season as a Wolverine, he averaged 13 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His outside shooting and perimeter defense are his main strengths that he will hope to take to the next level.