D.J. Wilson’s NBA early-entry decision was validated Thursday.
The Michigan forward made one of the most dramatic leaps in program history, capping his one-year starting career by being drafted in the first round of tonight's NBA Draft by Milwaukee with pick No. 17.
“That’s a kid I looked in the draft, he fits right in with Milwaukee,” NBA TV analyst Steve Smith said on the broadcast. “You talk about Thon Maker, Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Jabari Parker, guys with length. D.J. Wilson is 6-10 with a wingspan that can cover ground, knows how to play offensively. One thing about him is, he can shoot the basketball. You didn’t see a lot of it, at Michigan he played a lot of 4 and 5 but he’s a big-time basketball player.”
He and U-M junior-to-be Moe Wagner both entered the draft in April to test the waters but Wagner withdrew just before the May 24 deadline.
Wilson, from Sacramento, Calif., chose to stay in and it paid off as Michigan’s sixth first-round pick and eighth draft pick overall in coach John Beilein’s 10 years at U-M.
He is the third-highest draft pick of the John Beilein era behind Nik Stauskas, who went eighth in 2014, and Trey Burke in 2013.
"Milwaukee is getting some ridiculous length to add to their ridiculous length," ESPN's Jay Bilas said on the broadcast. "D.J. Wilson is 6-10 but he's got a wingspan of 7-3. Good athlete. Another guy that's an excellent finisher around the basket, 73%. Another guy with really good footwork. He can play pick and pop, he can drive it... With his footwork, he's got a chance to be an outstanding player. He's really good."
At 6-10, 240 pounds, Wilson has unique appeal to NBA teams, even with just one year as a rotation player at Michigan. Entering last season, it wasn't clear he would be in U-M's lineup for heavy minutes and now he's the program's highest drafted player this year.
"We couldn't guard him this year," former Indiana coach Tom Crean said on the Yahoo! Vertical live stream. "D.J. Wilson was by far the most improved player we played against this year. John Beilein said he fell in love with the weight room and he realized contact would be his friend.... This guy is a high, high-level offensive player, a very good three-point shooter, had over 50 assists, so he can pass the ball, moves extremely well without the ball....
"That is a great pick."
There are many power forward types in the draft class but few have that wingspan, hit 41 three-pointers (37%), had 57 blocks and 20 steals.
That versatility was enough to have a number of teams floating their interest in him despite him being hampered by a quad injury and not having any known public workouts in the past month.
"Milwaukee continues to embrace what I call, position-less basketball," ESPN's Jalen Rose said on the broadcast.
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