North Texas Daily

COLUMN: Men’s basketball could stand a chance come NBA draft season

COLUMN: Men’s basketball could stand a chance come NBA draft season

COLUMN: Men’s basketball could stand a chance come NBA draft season
November 05
12:52 2020

The North Texas men’s basketball program is on the rise here in Denton. The team looks to continue trending in the right direction this year and many key players from last season’s roster are returning to pick up where they left off prior to the coronavirus pandemic. While there are not very many active professional athletes who have come from North Texas, we could be seeing one more in the future.

The Mean Green are coming off one of their best seasons in program history. In the 2019-20 season, North Texas had an overall record of 20-11. They took home their first conference championship since winning the Sun Belt Conference in 2010.

Prior to this year, inconsistency had plagued North Texas basketball for years. The Mean Green had a few years of dominance as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, winning the conference championship twice in three years. The program also made its only two NCAA tournament appearances in 2007 and 2010. No other Division I school in the state of Texas had more wins than North Texas from 2006-2010.

Since then, it’s been nothing but a rocky ride for the Mean Green. They struggled in their first four years as a member of Conference USA as they were unable to post a record above .500 in a single season.

Despite a history of struggle, the Mean Green have found their answer. North Texas hired head coach Grant McCasland in 2017, and have been an entirely different program since.

McCasland, with the help of key players along the way, has led the Mean Green to three straight 20-win seasons. North Texas has found consistency in its program which will most likely continue. 

This stretch of winning has put the university on the map, too. The program received more media attention than ever in recent years and gained even more exposure from the March Madness selection committee, who were even planning on giving North Texas a bid to the NCAA tournament prior to the coronavirus pandemic. 

I personally believe the exposure that comes with being a top team in a Division I conference can carry over to individuals on the team as well. The Mean Green has a talented group of players in their program and many of them were starting to gain notoriety during last year’s successful season.

One player in particular received the majority of the media coverage last year. Senior guard Javion Hamlet is coming off the most dominant season in his collegiate career, being named to the first-team All-Conference USA as well as taking home C-USA Player of the Year. Hamlet averaged 14.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. 

While the Mean Green has not had a player drafted into the NBA since Tony Mitchell in 2013, Hamlet could be the one to end the drought.

Being dominant in a Group of Five conference is most certainly a step in the right direction for Hamlet, but he still has a lot more work to do in order to have North Texas mentioned at the NBA draft.

If Hamlet can elevate his game even more and work his way into being a statistical leader on the NCAA leaderboards, I think we could begin to hear his name as a late-round draft pick in the NBA.

The Mean Green’s recent success has put numerous players in the spotlight as of late. Hamlet’s skill, consistent winning and the media exposure that comes with being a conference-contending team will most certainly draw scouts to North Texas this winter. All eyes will be on the Mean Green this season, and if there’s one year that a player from North Texas could get drafted into the NBA, this would be the year.

Featured Illustration by Durga Bhavana

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Milo Mihaltses

Milo Mihaltses

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