Over the past few years, Florida’s men’s basketball program has been well represented in the NBA draft.
The Seminoles had three players selected in last year’s draft, and were tied in the 1981 draft as the most in the program’s history.
In each of the past two years, FSU has had a player who finished fourth overall in the first round, and has been tied for the highest pick in program history.
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During the last three drafts, FSU had seven players selected. This is the most in the program’s three-year history and is Duke-related for the most experienced players among the ACC schools.
But after it was a certainty that at least one former Seminole would hear its name called each of the past few years, that wasn’t quite the case this year.
Entering the Thursday night draft, which will be broadcast from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on ABC and ESPN at 7:30 p.m., John Butler is the best former Seminole who could extend the streak of consecutive years with the FSU drafted player to four.
Butler, who picked FSU from Christchurch Episcopal School in Greenville (SC), wasn’t seen as one possibility and did when he arrived ahead of the 2021-22 season. He was ranked 71st overall and 12th in the 2021 class by 247Sports.
But it soon became clear early in the season that he might not be with the Seminoles for an extended period of time. The 7-foot-1 combination, his shooting ability, and defensive versatility are often not found together which makes him a valuable asset.
In his only FSU season, he averaged 5.9 points and 3.2 rebounds over 19 minutes per game. His 39.3% of the three-point block was the second-best clip among FSU’s regular contributors behind only Harrison Prieto, averaging 1.2 blocks per game while also proving his perimeter defending ability.
Butler was impressed at the NBA Scouting Combine and waited until the last day before the June 1 deadline to decide he was staying in the draft and would not return to FSU.
Had he returned to FSU, Butler might have played his way into the first round or considered the lottery for next year’s NBA draft. As it currently stands, though, it’s somewhat up in the air if Butler hears his name being called on Thursday or if he’ll be one of the high-priority non-fabricated free customers.
But the decision not to return for his sophomore season means that any team drafting or signing Butler this year will do so with him as a minor project. His skills are being refined, but his body needs to be developed. With his 7-foot-1 chassis, his 174.4-pound weight when combined is astonishingly low.
In order for him to play at the NBA level, he definitely needs to add more weight and strength. His first season as a professional in the G-League will likely come, where he will help the team of his choice continue to grow their skills while gaining weight.
However, the butler’s rare combination of size, speed, and shooting ability is quite rare and could make it a valuable future asset worth venturing into crafting in the second round.
Opinions vary as to where Butler might land. Ranger’s Kevin O’Connor has Butler’s 41st on his big board while Athletic’s Sam Vicini has Butler’s 65th on his board.
Sports Illustrated made Butler a 41st overall in the New Orleans Pelicans, and USA Today/For the Win made him a surprise first-round pick, reaching 28th overall to the Golden State Warriors.
However, ESPN, Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report did not include Butler in their latest mock two-round draft, which means there’s at least some chance he might not be picked up on Thursday night.
Butler may be the only FSU graduate with a realistic chance of entering this year’s draft, but he is one of very few Seminoles who will be embarking on the start of their careers over the next few weeks.
Multi-year rookie Malik Osborne has had the opportunity to work with a number of NBA teams in the past few weeks and should be getting his chance with a team in the NBA Summer League this summer in Las Vegas.
Anthony Bullitt, Rayquan Evans, Wyatt Wilkes, and Tanor Ngum are also looking to start their careers. Some of them may receive some attention in the NBA, but their future playing abroad is likely in an international league.
2022 NBA Draft
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Television: ABC or ESPN
You can reach Curt Weiler at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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