When the Utah Jazz took Trey Burke with the No. 9 pick in 2013, it seemed like it might be a while before another Michigan Wolverines player went that high again.
As it turns out, it only took 12 months.
In a remarkable turnaround, Nik Stauskas went from being a support player on the team that went to the national-championship game to the star of the Big Ten champions and the Big Ten player of the year.
All that work, which changed him from a one-dimensional shooter to a player who could drive to the basket and dunk on people, ended up with Stauskas actually topping Burke’s draft night.
The Sacramento Kings took Stauskas with the eighth pick — the one that would have belonged to the Pistons had the Cavaliers not jumped them in the lottery. That dropped Detroit to No. 9, meaning they had to send the pick to Charlotte to finish off the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette trade.
That cost the Pistons a shot at Stauskas, who’s exactly the kind of 3-point shooter that they need.
Stauskas, never a humble kid, said that both he and Burke felt under-appreciated coming out of high school, especially in his case. Stauskas grew up outside of Toronto, a hotbed for hockey, not basketball.
"I think a lot of guys come to U-M that were under-recruited, and we play with a chip on our shoulder," Stauskas told ESPN after being selected. "Trey and I were both like that, and Coach Beilein and his staff gave us the preparation we needed to get to this level."
Some mock drafts had Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Adriean Payne on the verge of breaking into the lottery, but neither were selected in the top 14.
Payne, though, didn’t miss by much, going to Atlanta at No. 15 — the first pick outside the lottery. The Spartans still haven’t had a lottery pick since Jason Richardson went fifth to Golden State in 2001.
Payne made headlines off the court toward the end of the season with his friendship with young Lacey Holdsworth, who was dying of cancer. Holdsworth was constantly with Payne and the Spartans during their NCAA tournament run, and they were together at the slam-dunk contest on Final Four weekend, making a major emotional impact.
Lacey passed away shortly afterward, but her mother, Heather, attended the draft with Payne.
"She has had a huge impact on my life," Payne said. "If she were here, she would give me a big hug and tell me that she loved me."
The next local player selected wasn’t from Michigan or Michigan State, but Kentucky. James Young, who played for Troy and Rochester High Schools before heading for the Wildcats, went 17th to the Celtics.
Harris was officially selected by Chicago with the 19th pick, but will be going to Denver as part of a prearranged trade. Harris, who won’t turn 20 until training camp, not only led the Spartans in scoring, he was named to both the Big Ten’s first-team All-Conference team and All-Defensive team.
Mitch McGary, who had last season ruined by a back injury and was facing a year-long drug suspension as a junior, went 21st to Oklahoma City. McGary, who made his name almost entirely during Michigan’s 2013 NCAA Tournament run, will now play alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on a championship contender.
McGary’s pick created history in two ways. After Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. last season, Stauskas and McGary gave Michigan two first-round picks in consecutive seasons for the first time. With Payne and Harris going, the 2014 draft is also the first is where Michigan and Michigan State both had two players taken in the first round.
Michigan almost got a third first-round pick, as rumors began to fly that the Thunder were strongly considering taking a second Wolverine, Glenn Robinson III, with the 29th pick.
His reunion with McGary didn’t happen, though, as Oklahoma City went with Stanford forward Josh Huestis. Robinson stayed on the board until he was selected 40th by Minnesota.
The last player selected with local ties was Southfield Lathrup’s Roy Devyn Marble, the son of Flint’s Roy Marble. Both went to Iowa and in 2013, they became the first father-son combination to each score 1,000 points in the Big Ten.
Michigan State’s Keith Appling and Oakland’s Travis Bader were not selected.