The 2009 NBA Draft was supposed to be a groundbreaking event in Gonzaga hoops history. With four Zags in draft contention and two players that were stone-cold locks, the sky was the limit. As it turns out, nothing is ever guaranteed in professional drafts and Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs, and Jeremy Pargo found that out tonight. The trio of Gonzaga seniors that competed for a spot in the draft all came up short on Thursday night and never heard their name called. Next up for the three is NBA free agency which will probably lead to the Las Vegas summer league or they could opt for the more lucrative European route. Needless to say, their path to the NBA got a bit steeper.
It wasn't all bad news for Gonzaga. Upside-ridden sophomore Austin Daye was selected early in the draft at #15 by the Detroit Pistons. Daye avoided the freefall that plagued many other prospects Thursday night and went to the team that probably had the most longstanding interest in him. The Pistons should be a tremendous fit for Austin because they have holes in their frontcourt and Detroit is synonymous with toughness and they should be able to really help Austin mature and play with more tenacity in the NBA.
The bad news began with the freefall of DeJuan Blair. The one Gonzaga player besides Austin Daye that I felt was a complete and total lock was Josh Heytvelt. He was predicted by ESPN, DraftExpress, and every other draft outlet to go in the mid-second round AT THE LATEST. However, once DeJuan Blair and fellow Pitt Panther Sam Young started falling, their was a cause for concern. The mid-to-late second round is typically reserved for the "best available" type player and as long as those two were around, Josh's odds of getting picked were low. The one spot that I prayed Josh would go was #46 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Right before the Cavs selected, Jay Bilas and Jeff Van Gundy (who knows nothing about college hoops) were saying how the Cavs needed a versatile big man who can shoot on the outside. Perfect. That describes Josh Heytvelt to a T. North Carolina 'tweener Danny Green was the Cavs choice and that kind of spelled the end for Josh. Maybe the Jazz at 50 but I thought Jeremy Pargo had a better chance of going there as the Jazz front office really liked Jeremy.
continue reading more post draft thoughts after the jump...
What we saw tonight was a combination of scared GM's and a weak economy. Foreign players really ruled the second round; I can't count how many times I heard the dorky associate commissioner say "and this foreign player is actually in attendance". GM's in this draft were content to take their 2nd round picks and put them with foreign players who would need three years rather than take an American player who may not have as much upside but is ready right now. The weak economy was just what some of the foreign-born players needed to get drafted tonight.
As I mentioned, Jeremy Pargo and Micah Downs were also not drafted this evening. While their omissions from the proceedings were not quie as surprising, their was still plenty of hope for them. Both, by all accounts, worked out very well in their pre-draft workouts and put themselves in good positions to be drafted. We thought that Micah had a nice niche as an athletic player who could specialize as a defensive stopper and Jeremy Pargo is the ideal leader at the point guard position and a guy that commands respect and knows how to run a team.
We will anxiously be following these three as they take the next step in their respective basketball futures. I believe that all three have the ability to sign on and make an NBA roster but, at this point, would not be surprised to see any of them take off to Europe. Plenty of congratulations are due to Austin Daye who proved that his decision to remain in the NBA Draft was very well thought out. We look forward to seeing how he progresses in summer leagues with the Pistons!