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Sports


Akron 7-footer could end the MAC's NBA draft drought
Zeke Marshall expected to be first MAC player drafted in a decade
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Former Akron center Zeke Marshall has worked out for about 15 teams, including the Cavs, in preparation for Thursday’s NBA Draft.
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It’s been a decade since a Mid-American Conference basketball player was drafted to play in the NBA. The last time was 2003, when the L.A. Clippers drafted Central Michigan’s Chris Kaman No. 6 and the Boston Celtics picked Ohio University’s Brandon Hunter in the second round.

That drought for the MAC will likely end Thursday night, as 7-foot center Zeke Marshall of Akron is expected to be selected … perhaps by Cleveland.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks why even some of the best college players don't make it to the NBA despite the expectations being high.

Listen: Terry Pluto on MAC's NBA draft drought and misplaced dreams

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Two rounds, 30 picks each
The NBA draft is just two rounds, 30 picks each. Which, says Terry Pluto, makes the NBA dreams of most of the players in the MAC – and anywhere else – pretty unrealistic.

So tomorrow night, “this is reality to them,” says Pluto. And that reality is that their lives are “not going to be all about basketball.”

Misplaced dreams  
Pluto says it’s hard to convince many college players of that. After all, they’ve been watching TV, and absorbing some powerful messages -- from LeBron James to amateur tournaments -- that make an NBA career seem realistic.

“It’s always bothered me this whole basketball dream,” says Pluto, “because of the AAU teams and the summer leagues and the tennis shoe influence of Nike and Adidas. They fly these kids all around the country at 12 and 13 and 14. The kids start thinking, ‘This is what it’s going to be. I’m just going to fly around and play basketball … forever.’”

But LeBron James is an extraordinary physical specimen, says Pluto. More realistic is the life of other good college players, who end up journeymen in European leagues.

Marshall could end the drought
Pluto acknowledges that may change with the University of Akron’s Zeke Marshall, who’s been working out at camps set up by 15 NBA teams -- including the Cavs -- over the last four or five weeks.

And Pluto notes there’s some irony there.

“He didn’t go to Akron really to play basketball. I mean he’s 7 foot; he got a basketball scholarship. But he loves computers and the specialized computer program that Akron has and set up for him.” Pluto says he turned down bigger basketball programs because Coach Keith Dambrot and his staff “did a great job recruiting him with the academics.”

Though “his game is kind of raw,” Pluto says Marshall may go in the second round.  And “if he doesn’t get drafted, he’ll get his pick of several teams where he can go and try  out.”

And that, says Pluto, is unlike a lot of kids, “not just from the MAC but from all over the place, who think they’re going to get picked and who are going to be very heartbroken by Friday morning.” 

Listen: Terry Pluto on Cavs latest draft options with top pick
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(2:42)
Listen: Terry Pluto on the Indians as possible contenders
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(3:19)
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