Several players with local ties have a chance in draft

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

When Caris LeVert suffered a fractured foot in January, Michigan's season — and the chances for a local college player being selected in the first round of the NBA draft — were deflated.

LeVert, a preseason all-Big Ten selection, was considered a first-round pick before and after the injury. But he opted to return for his senior season.

Still, there are a number of players with local ties who could be selected in the draft, and a few others who could be attractive free-agent pickups or get a look during the summer league next month.

Devin Booker, Kentucky, 6-6, 206, freshman guard

Booker, who grew up in Grand Rapids, spent one season at Kentucky, and could be the best choice in a crop bereft of pure shooters. Although he doesn't have elite-level athleticism, he'll find a spot because of his shooting and smart play. In Kentucky's loaded roster, Booker may have been the most consistent, shooting 47 percent overall, 41 percent on 3-pointers.

The projections on where Booker could be selected fluctuate, but almost all mock drafts agree he shouldn't fall out of the lottery.

Branden Dawson, Michigan State, 6-6, 225, senior forward

After four seasons at Michigan State, Dawson's skill set may not translate well to the NBA. He shot 54 percent overall and isn't a 3-point threat. He will have to work on creating his own shot off the dribble, but he won't have a strength and power advantage like he did in college. At the combine, Dawson tinkered with playing small forward, but didn't look comfortable trying to take mid-range jump shots.

A team could take a chance on him in the second round, but the more likely scenario is picking a team that has a specific need for his skill set and signing as a free agent.

Juwan Howard Jr., Detroit, 6-5, 240, senior forward

Son of one of the Michigan Fab Five, Howard Jr. made his mark at Detroit (17.5 points, 43 percent shooting). He excels as a scorer, but will need to have a more well-rounded game to stick in the NBA. He had a workout with the Pistons.

Vince Hunter, UTEP, 6-8, 205, sophomore forward

After leaving Detroit Consortium, Hunter spent two seasons at UTEP before declaring early. He averaged 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds, while shooting 53 percent. He doesn't have an NBA-ready offensive skill set, but could find his niche on defense.

He impressed at the combine with his hustle and drive to defend and go after rebounds. Hunter could be drafted toward the end of the second round or could sign as a free agent.

Travis Trice, Michigan State, 6-0, 170, senior guard

Although Trice helped the Spartans reach the Final Four last season, the odds are against hearing his name called because of his lack of size and quickness. Trice had a breakout senior season, averaging 15.3 points and 5.1 assists and shooting 37 percent on 3-pointers.

Trice could get a look for a summer league roster, but more likely will play overseas.


When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York


No. 1 pick: Minnesota

Pistons picks: Nos. 8, 38

Online: For complete pick-by-pick coverage, including player profiles, go to