Tonight was exciting and fulfilling (albeit slightly stressful in between the two picks) for Baylor Men’s Basketball fans as two of our most beloved athletes were selected in the 2021 NBA Draft! I usually don’t watch the NBA Draft unless there are eligible Bears and we’re certain they’ll go at some point (2017 was fairly disappointing when fan and team favorite PF Johnathan Motley went undrafted despite earning numerous honors) and although I didn’t watch the program on TV, I obsessively scrolled through Twitter to check on the status of our favorite Gs Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler.
Davion Mitchell was selected quickly after the program began, going 9th overall to the Sacramento Kings. I will be honest and say I don’t understand a lick of what drafting is like and why teams pick who they do. Perhaps it’s because I’m generally uninterested in the NBA, but the draft process seems confusing and unpredictable. Mitchell was one of (or in my opinion) the best player(s) on Baylor’s National Championship team and yet I assumed he would be chosen after Butler—the conference’s golden boy. Mitchell’s final season stats showed he shot 51.1% (158-309) of his field goals, 44.7% (63-141) of 3s, and 64.1% (41-64) of free throws with a total of 165 assists, 57 steals, 11 blocks, and 420 points. He was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team (an improvement from his Third Team placement last year).” Along with those Big 12 honors, Mitchell was named to the All-Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the Associated Press’ All-Big 12 Second Team. A couple weeks after, the National Association of Basketball Coaches named Mitchell to the All-America Third Team. And as of today, he earned all three National Defensive Player of the Year awards—the NABC Defensive Player of the Year, Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year.
Butler was predicted to go in the first round, but after a medical holdup during the Draft’s examination process, he was a steal at pick No. 40 in the second round for the the New Orleans Pelicans. However, reports show (and head coach Scott Drew tweets) Butler was traded to the Utah Jazz. Understandably it must have been stressful for Butler to wait so long for his name to be called, but the Jazz are getting a phenomenal and somehow underrated athlete in the Big 12 darling who was named Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year, and Scholar-Athlete of the Year after leading the Bears to the National title. He was a unanimous All-American with honors on the All-Big 12 First Team, All-Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Sporting News’ All-American First Team, National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America First Team, and being named the Associated Press’ Big 12 Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the 2021 Final Four. Butler finished his Baylor career as arguably the best player in program history and in his final season shooting 47.1% (177-376) of his field goals, 41.6% (77-185) of 3s, and 78% (71-91) of free throws with a total of 99 boards, 144 assists, 59 steals, 11 blocks, and 502 points. I don’t like the NBA but I might have to start watching for Mitchell and Butler!