Kentucky's unibrowed star forward, Anthony Davis will be the first pick in tonight's NBA draft. In all, 30 names will be called in the first round of that draft, announcing the new youth movement that will play on the league's massive stage next season. It could even make history, with both Kentucky and North Carolina expecting to have four players selected -- the first time that has happened since 1989.
Where thing get interesting for Villanova fans will be in the second round, however. In recent years, the second round has been a mix of imperfect college players and unready Europeans. Many won't ever sign an NBA contract, others may go on to productive careers in the league, like Dante Cunningham has done.
The second round is also where Villanova will hope that one of two early entry players is selected, Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek. Neither player has much hope of being a first-round pick, especially since Isaiah Thomas won’t be pulling the trigger for any team tonight (Renaldo Balkman, anyone?), but the second round is in sight, especially for Wayns.
This is widely expected to be a weak draft overall for point guards. A few stars at the position will go in the first round, but for teams, like the Knicks, who may still be on the lookout at the position in the second round, it is seemingly possible that Wayns could have worked his way into that second-round group.
Despite that, last year’s draft was strong at point guard, and most mock-draft boards don’t have Wayns listed as one of their 60 picks.
"I don’t pay attention to the mock drafts," Wayns told the DelcoTimes. "I worked out for a 16 or 17 teams and talked to a lot of GMs and I know what they think of me and my game.
"You get to see how people see you, but you also get to see how you stack up against other players. It’s a great process. You learn a lot."
Wayns knows what the odds are of being selected in tonight’s draft, but he will be waiting and watching like everyone else.
"It’s very nerve-racking," Wayns said. "You hear a lot of things, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ll be waiting just like everyone else."
After the draft, both Wayns and Cheek will have a number of options available to them, most likely. One is being invited to play for an NBA summer league team, essentially an extended tryout that is available to some undrafted players where they can play against both drafted rookies and some more veteran players and allow teams to get a better idea of how they will stack up in their system and against NBA talent.
Successful summer league stints can result in either a rookie free-agent contract or an invite to a team’s training camp. After being injured for a portion of the Phoenix Suns’ summer league season, Scottie Reynolds was offered an invite to their training camp in 2010, but turned it down in favor of signing abroad.
In some cases, teams that are particularly interested in an undrafted player (and when they think another team might step in), they might offer a free-agent deal before the summer league season. That isn’t a usually the procedure that is followed, however.
If the summer league doesn’t work out, or if a better offer comes along, both Wayns and Cheek could wind up overseas as well. Playing in Europe and Asia will usually result in better money than a stint in the NBA’s D-League, though oftentimes it can be a harsh experience that is very different from the plush amenities of big time NCAA programs. Scottie Reynolds and Curtis Sumpter both opted to return from abroad in recent years to play in the D-League. Villanova has an excellent track record of placing current players in foreign leagues, however, whether they were stars on the Main Line or role-players.
The options will be out there for two players who averaged double-digit scoring and lead a Big East team this season – even a bad one. The question, therefore, shouldn’t be "Will Dominic Cheek or Maalik Wayns play basketball next year?" In all likelihood, they both will.
The big question we will look for an answer to tonight is, "Where will Wayns and Cheek play?" Unless one of them is picked in the draft, however, it might be days, weeks, or months before we get a solid answer to that question. We may have to wait out the summer league circuit, training camps and the process of speaking to international clubs before a decision is made.
Both players could have contributed to the 2012-13 Villanova team, but personal and family concerns have driven them to look for a paycheck next year. Whether you respect that decision or not, they leave the school in good academic standing and have done little harm to a program that was set to be in rebuilding mode whether they returned or not.