Badger NBA Prospect Update

In preparation for this Thursday’s NBA Draft, a few Wisconsin Badger basketball players have been working out for teams in hopes of hearing their names called by Commissioner David Stern. Wisconsin might not typically attract the kind of one-and-done player that has dominated the NBA Draft lottery the past few years, but with four years of excellent coaching under their belts, many graduating seniors eventually make their way to the professional ranks, even if they don’t land in the NBA.

Jon Leuer is the only Wisconsin prospect expected to the be drafted by an NBA team, but his stock is on the rise. Leuer has parlayed an excellent senior season in which he ranked 12th nationally in college PER (29.7) and fifth in offensive rating (116.1) into significant interest in the late first round and early second. Leuer’s production speaks for itself, but his Draft Combine results also graded out favorably, establishing him as a “practical” seven-footer with better athleticism than previously thought. Leuer’s biggest draw is obviously his shooting stroke, with teams hopeful that he can be a true “stretch-4″ with range out to the three-point line, but he also has the ability to beat defenders off the dribble thanks to his above-average handle for the PF position. Combined with his turnaround jumper from the post on either block, a shot that a player of his size should be able to get off with relative ease, Leuer could be a far more versatile player than first imagined.

Leuer has worked out for a number of teams, including (to my knowledge) the New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats, and Milwaukee Bucks. He also made a name for himself working out for the 10-man Select Team that practiced against the USA National Team prior to 2010’s FIBA World Championships.

For now, Leuer is projected as a second-round pick. Scouting website has Leuer slotted in at #47 overall to the Clippers, while has him staying in-state with the Bucks at #40. Be still my heart.

Fellow graduate Keaton Nankivil also worked out for the Bucks. Nankivil isn’t expected to be drafted, but he shares Leuer’s smooth outside shot and could make his way to the NBA Development League or play in Europe, following in the footsteps of Greg Stiemsma and Marcus Landry. Landry, incidentally, has achieved a great deal of success in the NBA D-League with the Reno Bighorns, averaging 17 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game last season. Draft Express ranks him 21st among D-League prospects. Assuming there is an NBA season in the coming year, keep a lookout for a Marcus Landry call-up.

Finally, in the too-early-prognostication department, PG Jordan Taylor is also projected by Draft Express as a second-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. If Taylor can emulate or improve upon his junior season, he could see his stock jump significantly by next summer.

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