Minnesota has produced 57 NBA and ABA players over the course of the league’s existence. The biggest name of course is Kevin McHale, but there are numerous other players that have been some-what impactful during their careers. Tyus Jones, Kris Humphries, Gary Trent Jr., Joel Przybilla, and Cole Aldrich to name a few.
High School Recruitment
As the world keeps changing, so do the ways of scouting high school talent in all sports. That includes the opening of doors for players from smaller states and lesser-known basketball hotspots, that would’ve been locked shut previously.
With that, Minnesota has blossomed as a high school basketball hot spot. Look where all of these local kids land on ESPN’s 100 over the past six years:
- Tyus Jones, Apple Valley, MN: 4th in ESPN’s 2014 Top 100
- Rashad Vaughn, Golden Valley, MN: 19th in ESPN’s 2014 Top 100
- Reid Travis, Minneapolis, MN: 27th in ESPN’s 2014 Top 100
- Amir Coffey, Hopkins, MN: 33rd in ESPN’s 2016 Top 100
- Gary Trent Jr., Apple Valley, MN: 8th in ESPN’s 2017 Top 100
- Jericho Sims, Minneapolis, MN: 67th in ESPN’s 2017 Top 100
- Nate Reuvers, Lakeville, MN: 86th in ESPN’s 2017 Top 100
- Tre Jones, Apple Valley, MN: 17th in ESPN’s 2018 Top 100
- Daniel Oturu, Saint Paul, MN: 57th in ESPN’s 2018 Top 100
- Matthew Hurt, Rochester, MN: 11th in ESPN’s 2019 Top 100
- Zeke Nnaji, Hopkins, MN: 49th in ESPN’s 2019 Top 100
Upcoming NBA Draft
With the 2019-2020 NBA season hanging in the balance, we can’t say for sure when the 2020 NBA Draft will take place. We know the Lottery and Combine are already postponed, so we can safely assume the Draft will be too.
With the postponement of the NBA Draft, the NCAA did the right thing (for once) and pushed back the date for players to withdraw their names from the process, if they choose.
When the draft does come (which it will in one form or another) we can expect to see at least four Minnesota products get their names called, with a small possibility of that number jumping to six.
2020 NBA Draft Sure-Fire Picks from Minnesota
Tre Jones, G – Duke
Tre followed in his brother’s footsteps and attended Duke University. However, with only an average season during his Freshman campaign, Jones decided to play one more season at Duke before declaring for the Draft. He is a solid defender and distributor, suggesting he will have a solid backup role at the next level. He is projected to go late-first round to early-second round in most mocks. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has Jones at 32nd on his big board.
Tyrell Terry, G – Stanford
I think Stanford’s Tyrell Terry has the most interesting decision of any player in the NBA’s semblance of a 2020 pre-draft process.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) April 28, 2020
So I talked to him about it, and broke down why I think he’s worth taking a shot on in the first round: https://t.co/JZO7G2HGY9 pic.twitter.com/aanIOhWLIt
After a solid Freshman season at Stanford, Terry declared for the NBA Draft. While he may be slightly undersized, he possesses a smooth jumper that should transition to the NBA well. Experts are all over the board on Terry, but Kevin O’Connor has the De La Salle product 8th on his big board. Terry could very well slide down during the draft, but expect him to stay in the first round.
Daniel Oturu, C – Minnesota
Some highlights from 6-9, 240 lbs + 20-year-old #Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu, who just declared for the 2020 #nbadraft, via @wojespn. He averaged a 20.1 PPG + 11.3 RPG double-double along with 2.5 BPG in 31 starts as a sophomore with the #GoldenGophers pic.twitter.com/l2xKRpsYW9— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) March 23, 2020
Likely a second round guy, Oturu put on a clinic at the U this past season and his name rose up the draft boards. With solid athleticism, rebounding, and post moves, Oturu should be able to provide at the next level. O’Connor has Oturu at 44th on his big board, but don’t be surprised if he’s taken before that.
Zeke Nnaji, C – Arizona
Pac-12 freshman of the year Zeke Nnaji from Arizona is declaring for the NBA Draft, he told ESPN. https://t.co/b9rkt4K2KM— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 31, 2020
Nnaji is a very solid athlete and should be a two-way player at the next level. At 6’11” 240 lbs, Zeke has the body to bang with other bigs around the league. Some mocks have the Hopkins Star going undrafted, but I’m confident he will be taken in the second round. Kevin O’Connor likes Nnaji and places him 42nd on his big board, two spots ahead of Oturu.
2020 NBA Draft Wild Cards from Minnesota:
McKinley Wright, G – Colorado
Wright is a player that Gopher fans hoped to sign after he decommited from Dayton due to a coaching change. However, former the Minnesota Mr. Basketball chose Colorado over the U because Pitino signed Isaiah Washington. Wright is not projected to be drafted in many mocks, but he has a chance and should at least get a look as an undrafted free agent. Wright is keeping the door open for a return to college.
Both Gach, G/F – Utah
“Both Gach – A Coveted Talent”— Ryan James (@RyanJamesMN) May 20, 2020
Why are so many Gopher fans hoping @TutBoth comes back to Minnesota to play? Why are so many schools in contact?@Minnesota247 dives into the video vault to show you why today!https://t.co/CA7UgGatwf
A former Austin High School star, Gach declared for the NBA Draft, but likely will go undrafted. With a couple years of college eligibility, Gach will look to transfer if he pulls his name from the draft pool (possibly back to Minnesota).
While unlikely that all six are selected, we have a chance to see a handful of former high school hoops stars playing at the highest level.