If Ohio State coach Thad Matta really did have an undercover plot to keep B.J. Mullens on campus for at least two years, it didn’t work.
Right before Siena ousted OSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, I wondered if Matta was purposely limiting Mullens’ playing time to drop his NBA Draft stock and squeeze another year out of the 7-foot center. After all, before Mullens even became a Buckeye (and before Blake Griffin started playing like The Hulk), he was seen as a possible No. 1 overall pick, and Matta had already lost Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos consecutively after one-and-done careers. It would make sense to keep his new big man under wraps, bringing him off the bench, playing him around 20 minutes a night, not giving him the green light to shoot threes. (One of the most attractive things about Mullens to pro scouts is his shooting.)
Still didn’t work. After averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and winning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, Mullens announced yesterday that he’s going pro.
In most mock drafts, Mullens has already dropped from a definite Top-3 pick to somewhere around the teens, just outside the Lottery. Looking at the other players at his position, he’ll still fall behind Hasheem Thabeet (UConn), but is probably the second-best center available, ahead of guys like Jerome Jordan (Tulsa) and Craig Brackins (Iowa State). The only other center I could see being taken ahead of Mullens is Kansas sophomore Cole Aldrich, who has been killing in the Tournament and might go pro a year earlier than expected.
Working in Mullens’ favor is the idea that every team in the NBA could use an athletic and skilled 7-foot, 275-pound kid with an identifiable mean streak and a smooth shooting stroke. But when you really look at it, a lot of this year’s Lottery teams might pass on the unproven Mullens because they already have their own promising center projects: Sacramento has Spencer Hawes, Washington has JaVale McGee, Memphis has Marc Gasol and Darko, Indiana has Roy Hibbert, Golden State has Andris Biedrins, the Clippers have DeAndre Jordan, New Jersey has Brook Lopez, and Phoenix has Robin Lopez. Mullens would be a good pickup for Oklahoma City or Toronto, but there’s a good chance he doesn’t hear his name called until later in the first round, landing with a back-end playoff team like Miami, Detroit or Dallas.
Where do you think B.J. Mullens will go in the Draft?