On Thursday night, Keita Bates-Diop will be the first Ohio State player taken in the NBA draft in three years.
Where he might be taken remains a mystery. It assuredly won’t be as high as the last Buckeye to be selected, when D’Angelo Russell was taken with the second pick in the 2015 draft, but Bates-Diop has been trending as a mid-to-late first round selection since he opted to declare for the draft and leave Ohio State with one year of eligibility remaining.
Where he falls in that range is hard to forecast. Over at CBSSports.com, senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has Bates-Diop going with the second-to-last pick in the first round: No. 29, to Brooklyn, which would ironically reunite him with Russell.
“Bates-Diop went from averaging 9.7 points in an injury-shortened 2016-17 season to 19.8 points in the 2017-18 season and improved in basically every way, which is why Ohio State spent much of this season nationally ranked and finished tied for second in the Big Ten regular-season standings,” Parrish wrote. “Not every player who returns to school to "improve his NBA stock" actually does. In fact, most don't. But Bates-Diop clearly did. And draft night will prove it.”
Draft expert Jonathan Givony, who founded DraftExpress.com and now writes for ESPN, has Bates-Diop slightly higher and going to Boston at No. 27.
“Bates-Diop increased his stock dramatically with a breakout season, moving among all of the frontcourt positions for an overachieving Ohio State team and looking like an ideal fit for the modern NBA -- if he can find a way to rev his motor into higher gear at the professional level,” he wrote.
SI.com has Bates-Diop going to Los Angeles – the team that took Russell before trading him – at No. 25, but addresses the possibility of Bates-Diop not being taken until the second round.
“Given the Lakers could be in for a busy summer, adding a player with some shooting and a level of versatility regardless of who else is on the roster makes sense if they hang onto this pick,” it says. “Los Angeles is thought by other teams to have promised this spot to Kevin Huerter, but they’ll likely have to move up if they want to acquire him. Bates-Diop’s shooting ability and length are traits teams can latch onto, and although he’s not a great athlete nor is he a perfect fit as a small-ball four, he might be a player who’s easy to plug into lineups given his ability to make jumpers and rebound. Bates-Diop could end up falling to the early second round, and his game is an acquired taste to a lot of scouts, but the fit makes sense here.”
TheRinger.com put Bates-Diop at No. 20 in its mock draft. Minnesota holds that pick. Bleacher Report has him going to Philadelphia at No. 26, while USA Today has him going to Portland at No. 24.
“Bates-Diop has good mobility, anticipation and athleticism, and his face-up game was an asset in college,” the USA Today mock draft says. “As a redshirt player, there are legitimate questions as to how much he’ll improve.”