Two players highly responsible for one of the Missouri men’s basketball team’s most successful four years in program history were selected in the second round of the NBA draft Thursday night.
After more than three hours of waiting, Kim English heard his name called by the Detroit Pistons with the 44th overall selection. The San Antonio Spurs chose Marcus Denmon at No. 59, one pick before the draft ended. The two seniors graduated as members of the winningest class in MU history.
They became the first Missouri duo to be drafted since 1989, when Gary Leonard and Byron Irvin were called 12 picks apart.
“What a great night for Mizzou basketball,” Coach Frank Haith said. “I’m really happy for both guys. I think they went to great organizations. Because of how hard they’ve worked, they have an opportunity to achieve their dreams in the NBA.”
During the ESPN broadcast, analysts pointed out the blue-collar attitude of English, who was known to have slept at Mizzou Arena for early-morning shoot-arounds. He was also commended for his role in the Tigers’ four-guard lineup, in which he was relied on as an undersized power forward.
“It was a long and exhilarating process, and really emotional,” English said. “You go through the process and you hear so many things, but you really don’t know. Draft night is risky because so much can happen. But I’m blessed I’m on my way to being a Detroit Piston.”
English said he considered his future with the Pistons "a perfect situation," and he was excited to "get there and work, defend and knock down some shots." Throughout the team’s record-setting 30-win season, Haith often referred to English as his locker room leader.
“Obviously, (the Pistons) are bringing in a great talent on the basketball court, but they are also bringing in someone with great character and the appropriate drive to succeed in this league," Haith said in a news release.
Haith said Denmon was a “warrior” in their first and last season together.
“I sure hope some team takes a chance on him,” Haith said toward the end of the season. “I think, unfortunately, he’ll be talked about for what he can’t do. But, man, he sure does something to help you win.”
Haith said he had spoken with both the Pistons and Spurs about English and Denmon.
“As a matter of fact, both teams were about both guys,” he said. “(But) the draft, you just don't know how it’s going to play out. I think both guys will be pleased with their chances of being able to compete and continuing their careers in the NBA.”
Ricardo Ratliffe, another fellow graduate with English and Denmon who had an efficient season as the Tiger’s only true post player, was not selected.
“I think the worst thing you could do is be disappointed,” Haith said. “Ricardo and I spoke earlier in the day. You've just got to think positive and keep working. His path to the league may be a little different.”