Villanova’s buzzer-beating victory in Monday’s NCAA championship game was remarkable by itself, but perhaps most amazing is that the team accomplished what it did with so little in the way of NBA-level talent. That’s not to say that some of this year’s Wildcats won’t play in the NBA, as it seems likely that at least one or two of them will find their way into the league at some point. Still, it’s no safe bet that any of them will be drafted into the NBA, which is highly unusual.
Every NCAA champ since 1950 has had a player drafted in at least the top 40 picks, as SB Nation’s Kevin Trahan points out. The last NCAA champion without an eventual first-round pick on its roster was the 1986/87 Indiana team, which also won in dramatic fashion on a shot by Keith Smart, who became a second-round pick the next year.
Junior shooting guard Josh Hart appears to be the Villanova player with the best chance of getting drafted, ranking 69th in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress prospect listings for this year. Senior center Daniel Ochefu isn’t far behind at No. 76. Still, neither is in the top 60, and there are only 60 NBA draft picks each year. Hart could return to school and improve his stock, as could a few others on the Wildcats who are at least on NBA radars.
So, it’ll be a while before we know whether Villanova won a title without an NBA draftee, though we’ll know in June if they’re the first team to win the NCAA championship without a player who would be drafted that same year since Duke in 2010. Those Blue Devils weren’t exactly devoid of talent, however. They had five eventual draftees, and Lance Thomas has carved out a steady NBA career as an undrafted player.
Here’s a look at the draftees from NCAA champions this decade. Each player was drafted the year his school won the championship unless otherwise noted:
- Anthony Davis, 1st
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 2nd
- Terrence Jones, 18th
- Marquis Teague, 29th
- Doron Lamb, 42nd
- Darius Miller, 46th