Four former Cyclones wait in anticipation for NBA Draft

Deonte Burton laughs with Matt Thomas during pregame warmups against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. 

Aaron Marner

Thursday night, at least one Cyclone should hear his name called during the NBA Draft.

Monte Morris ended his illustrious Iowa State career in March with three Big 12 Tournament titles, the NCAA career record for assist-to-turnover ratio and school records in games won, total assists, and total steals.

Mock drafts have Morris going anywhere from the mid-40s to the late-50s, similar to where Georges Niang was expected to go in last year’s draft, where he was eventually picked by Indiana with pick No. 50.

“It’s still up in the air,” Morris said. “The thing is, they tell me I’m going to be picked, so that’s not the issue.”

While mock drafts don’t agree on where Morris will be selected, they do agree with him that he will be picked at some point.

What about the rest of the former Cyclones?

Iowa State had six seniors on scholarship in 2016-17, four of whom started every game during the season.

Those four — Morris, Deonte Burton, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas — all have had pro hopes at some point in their college careers.

Mitrou-Long has worked out for several teams, including the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. Thomas has worked out for a few pro teams as well.

Neither Mitrou-Long nor Thomas figures to be drafted Thursday night, so if they want to make the NBA next season, they’ll need to earn it during the summer league as undrafted free agents.

Burton is the most intriguing case.

At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Burton played in the frontcourt for the Cyclones as a senior. He won’t be in that role as a pro. The position-less Burton has shown the ability to score on anybody at any time, but his passing and defense aren’t quite up to par with NBA standards.

DraftExpress lists Burton as the 78th best prospect and Morris at No. 61.

Why does Morris jump from the prospect No. 61 to draft selection No. 45 or 50? He has a clear role, and he’s been successful in that role before.

Burton has potential to be a solid NBA player, maybe even better than Morris. He’s also got huge question marks at every turn. What position can he defend? How will he operate in an NBA offense? Is he quick enough to stay with guards, and is he tall enough to play above the rim with forwards?

Another issue is Burton’s age. While he and Morris both enter the NBA Draft having completed their senior years, Morris won’t turn 22 until the week after the draft. Burton will turn 24 during next season.

While the difference between 22 and 24 doesn’t seem too big, it can make a difference for fringe prospects like Burton.

At this point, everything is out of the players’ control. They just want to get back on the court.

“I’ve been facetiming [the other seniors] a lot,” Morris said. “We’ve been talking. Everybody’s just ready [for it to be over], get playing in the summer league and things like that.”