UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Leuer among NBA draft's fortunate few

110627_MBB_Leuer.jpgTo a small degree, Jon Leuer may have been disappointed -- disappointed because he wasn't among the top 30 players selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

To a large degree, Jon Leuer may have been delighted -- delighted because he was among the top 30 players selected in the second round of the NBA draft.

Leuer went No. 40 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Only 60 players were drafted. You do the math -- on how many very good college basketball players will have to make an NBA roster as a free agent.

Only one Big Ten player was taken in the first round: Purdue's JaJuan Johnson went to the Boston Celtics (via trade from New Jersey) with the 27th selection overall.

Johnson is the first Boilermaker to go in the first round since the Bucks took Big Dog (Glenn Robinson) in 1994. He will be joined in Boston by teammate E'Twaun Moore, a second-round pick.

Moore, who went No. 55, was one of four Big Ten players picked in the second. The others were Leuer; Michigan's Darius Morris (No. 41, Lakers) and Ohio State's Jon Diebler (No. 51, Trail Blazers).

All in all, you can see why Leuer might be disappointed that he didn't go higher in the draft -- he's a competitor after all. But you can also see why he might be delighted by his draft number.

Especially considering the quality players who went undrafted. That would include Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough, the Big East's Player of the Year; and Butler's Matt Howard, a real bulldog.

Howard, who's expected to play in Belgium or Italy, watched Butler teammate Shelvin Mack go in the second round, No. 34, to the Washington Wizards.

It was duly noted that Howard took part in 117 victories at Butler, while the top seven picks in the 2011 draft, including four Europeans, played in a combined 116 college basketball games.

Virginia Commonwealth's Jamie Skeen was one of the catalysts in his team's exciting NCAA run. But he wasn't drafted. Neither was Kansas State's Jacob Pullen, nor Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney.

Tennessee's Scott Hopson, Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Georgetown's Austin Freeman will have to be NBA free agents, too. Such are the vagaries of a two-round draft.

You could assemble an All-Big Ten team of undrafted players.

Penn State's Talor Battle, Illinois's Demetri McCamey and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas would be in the backcourt. Ohio State's David Lighty and Illinois' Jereme Richmond would round out the starters.

Michigan State's Durrell Summers would be the sixth man.

Lighty ranks as a surprise because of his versatility and ability to guard a variety of positions. Via his Twitter account, Lighty posted, "U will see me in the NBA I promise u that.''

There's no reason to doubt him. Since 1989, when the NBA reduced its draft to two rounds, there have been a number of free agents who wrote their own happy ending in the league.

That list would include undrafted players like Brad Miller -- a former Purdue Boilermaker -- Ben Wallace, Bruce Bowen, David Wesley and Raja Bell.

Over the years, there have been many other notable free agents, including John Starks, Avery Johnson and Udonis Haslem. More recently, there was Marquette's Wesley Matthews.

After one season in Utah, Matthews signed a five-year, $34 million contract with Portland.

Recruiting, obviously, is not the only inexact science.