Wesley Iwundu’s late surge of across-the-board production did more than help Kansas State reach the NCAA Tournament this season.
It also boosted his NBA Draft stock -- dramatically.
A few months ago, it was hard to find Iwundu’s name on a single draft projection. He seemed like a late second-round hopeful, at best. Today, he is included in almost all of them. There’s a chance he could go in the first round.
“That is my goal,” Iwundu said. “I am very capable. I just have to put in the work.”
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Iwundu has signed with an agent, Austin Walton, and moved to San Diego in order to train full time for the upcoming draft.
Two of the top online draft projections think he is a lock to get picked. NBADraft.net projects him to go 27th to the Portland Trailblazers. Draft Express projects him as the 44th pick to the New York Knicks. Iwundu said he has received positive feedback from the Pelicans, Lakers, Spurs, Suns, Nets and Hawks.
“It’s close to about 20 teams that are interested in me,” Iwundu said. “Things are going pretty good right now.”
Iwundu made himself into a rising NBA prospect by closing out his college basketball career with a bang. The 6-foot-7 wing had always been productive for the Wildcats, as he broke the K-State record for career starts, but he took things to a higher level late as a senior, averaging 13 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
He was at his best in a NCAA Tournament victory over Wake Forest in which he had 24 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, but he often flirted with triple-doubles and often recorded double-doubles.
“The last month and a half really allowed me to put my name in the conversation for the draft,” Iwundu said. “From there, a lot of things have been going good for me. I have been hearing good feedback from teams. Things are really looking up right now. That last month and a half, I showed more versatility than I was at the beginning of the year. Bigger stages, more people got to see me play, and it paid off.”
His size and versatility left opposing coaches comparing him to Scottie Pippen at times. He projects to help NBA teams at shooting guard, small forward and maybe even power forward in smaller lineups.
K-State coach Bruce Weber thinks Iwundu molded himself into a pro prospect by re-tooling his shot last offseason and selflessly helping the Wildcats in areas that didn’t include scoring. He encouraged Iwundu to model his game after Andre Iguodala. Now that he has, he thinks Iwundu could be a first-rounder.
“He is probably on that verge,” Weber said. “The big key will be, what he does now the next three months? The workouts, the interviews, people don’t realize how important it all is.”
If Iwundu hears his name at the NBA Draft it will be a boon for K-State.
Nearly a decade has passed since the Wildcats produced their last NBA Draft pick, and they had a nearly 20-year wait before that. A quick refresher: Michael Beasley was the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, months after he took the Big 12 and nation by storm in his lone college season. Bill Walker was also selected that year, as the No. 47 pick. They were K-State’s first draft picks since Steve Henson was the No. 44 pick in 1990.
Former K-State players Rodney McGruder and Cartier Martin have reached the NBA in recent years, but neither made it as draft picks.
Iwundu seems poised to end that streak.
“Just another accomplishment to my legacy here at K-State,” Iwundu said at the thought of following Beasley and Walker. “To add onto it, man, would be big-time. Representing the school and adding more history to it it would be big.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett