Second best: Kansas players shut out of first round

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) looks for an outlet as he is defended by UC Irvine forward Brandon Smith (13) and center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Former Kansas University forward Cheick Diallo, who had been projected as a likely first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, went in the second round, while possible draft picks Wayne Selden Jr., Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene were not selected during Thursday’s proceedings in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The 6-foot-9 Diallo wound up as the third pick in Round Two by the Los Angeles Cllppers, who traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans for a pair of second-round picks that turned out to be David Michineau and Diamond Stone.

It was the first time since 2009 KU had no first-round picks.

“I was surprised Cheick didn’t go in the first round based on preliminary reports I got,” KU coach Bill Self said. “The big thing is he was able to go 33. That will hopefully put him in a situation to get a guaranteed contract and play for another Kansas guy in Alvin (Gentry, coach, former KU assistant). I talked to Alvin and his staff before they drafted Cheick. They are excited about him.

“I know it’s disappointing to the guys when they don’t go as high. In Cheick’s case, he is in a good situation.”

Diallo, who was in Brooklyn for the draft, sitting in the stands rather than the Green Room for projected lottery picks, wore a white suit coat, red bow tie and red pants. He had a depiction of Africa imprinted on the inside of the jacket.

He averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes a game during his one-and-done season at KU.

“Based on what I was told, it’s potential (in terms of what NBA likes about him) plus he has a motor that runs constantly. He really wants to be good. His effort level is very very high,” Self said of Diallo.

As far as Ellis and Selden, who had been mentioned as possible late-second-round picks, and Greene who was not listed in any mock drafts, Self said they shouldn’t be discouraged. He texted them right after the draft at that late hour.

“I’m disappointed but not discouraged at all,” Self said, “because I really feel a lot of times if you are not picked early in the second round you are better off to go undrafted. It sounds weird, but they can pick and choose to play summer league and work out and be put in position to sign with a team where there’s a great opportunity to make the team. A lot of times guys picked 50th may get picked by a team that has 13 guaranteed contracts with no chance to make the team. These guys as free agents may be put in situations where their chances increase. It doesn’t always work that way. it could be the case here. I hope it is.”

It didn’t help the Jayhawks that 26 international players went in the draft.

“The draft had a huge international flavor,” Self said. “And a lot of things happened early in the draft that totally threw things off and didn’t allow the draft to go as scripted.”

Self thinks Diallo, Ellis, Selden and Greene will all make a good living playing basketball.

“I am confident I’ll see them on a roster. I am. I thought that all along,” Self said. “Perry had an exceptional career, as did Wayne. Both were three-year starters. If Brannen can get in the right situation, a lot of teams liked him. I do believe they are not in a bad position. Going undrafted or going 50 it’s a coin flip, which is the best way to go. More times than not, not getting picked is a blessing. Now they can pick and choose.”

Selden, at least, seemed unfazed.

After the draft, he tweeted, “If it don’t kill you…”