Kansas standout Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Wiggins’ teammate Joel Embiid are expected to be the first three players selected in the 2014 NBA Draft. The status of several players with local ties is not quite as clear.
The draft will take place tonight in New York. The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the first pick and are expected by observers to take Wiggins or Parker.
But Pitt senior forward Lamar Patterson and Iowa State senior point guard DeAndre Kane, who helped Schenley High School win the PIAA Class AAAA championship in 2007, are projected to be among a group of players who could be selected late in the second round.
NBA consultant Chris Ekstrand, who is the editor of the league’s draft guide and has specialized in the draft and pre-draft camps for more than two decades said Patterson and Kane have NBA ability but could have to travel a less conventional route to get on a roster.
“I put both Lamar and DeAndre in that category of players [ranked] between, say, No. 50 to 75,” Ekstrand said. “That is a good group of players, guys with NBA-level skills or size or ability but may have a few areas to their game or their measurables that scouts are taking a longer look at or are worried about.
“So if you look at that group of 50 through 75, there are only 60 players that will be drafted, meaning there will be a group of about 15 very talented players who are going to be out there and will work to sign with a team as a free agent after the draft. And if they find the right situation, they could make the team.”
Ekstrand said that Kane is more likely to be drafted than Patterson because of his position and size. Kane is a 6-foot-4 point guard, but Patterson — at 6 feet 5 — is projected as a small forward.
Kane is 25. After high school he went to prep school before landing at Marshall University and transferred to Iowa State for his final college season.
“I think DeAndre has the best chance of any of these [local] players to be picked,” said Ekstrand. “A lot of the point guards in the draft are smaller and quicker whereas he is bigger, stronger and a more physical, defensive point guard. So he has a presence as a defender and he can also score so he gives you something on both ends and he is a good alternative to a point guard who is, say, 6 feet and not quite as physical.
“He is a guy, though, because of his age and his experience that will be drafted because somebody thinks he can help them right now.”
Kane averaged 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game for the Cyclones last season and was named the Big 12 Conference newcomer of the year.
Ekstrand said Patterson, who averaged 17.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for Pitt last season, has impressed scouts with his passing ability and basketball IQ. He also showed he can score and his shot improved.
“When you watch him, the thing that stands out is his ability to make the correct pass,” Ekstrand said. “He makes the right basketball play almost every time, he is a really good player and frankly will have a chance to make a roster because he really knows how to play the game.”
Ekstrand said 6-foot-9 Pitt center Talib Zanna is not likely to be drafted and might have to go overseas or to the NBA Developmental League. Zanna was invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, an annual predraft camp, but declined. That likely didn’t help his stock.
Ekstrand said one player who is intriguing and on the radar of most teams is Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson, who averaged 19.7 points and 3.3 rebounds.
“Karvel got a couple of workouts with teams and he is not a bad player,” Ekstrand said. “I don’t know that he is viewed as draftable but it won’t shock me if he lands on a summer league roster and he is definitely a candidate for NBA D-League or decent level in Europe.”
One other potential draftee with a local connection is 6-foot-9 UNLV power forward Khem Birch.
Birch, who averaged 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds this past season, was a McDonald’s All-American from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., and signed with Pitt in 2011. But he played only 10 games for the Panthers in his freshman season and transferred to UNLV, where he finished his career.
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.