History can be made again on Thursday night if Belmont basketball graduate Dylan Windler gets his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft.
“Being the first player to actually get drafted would be something very special,” said Windler. “Just being able to represent midmajors and especially Belmont will be something I’ll definitely remember forever.”
The only other Division l era Belmont grad to play in the NBA is Ian Clark who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Windler can be the first Bruin to be drafted in the Division l era and the first since Joe Gaines in 1972.
Windler has already made headlines after his stellar senior performance. He was the only player in the country to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game and shoot 40 percent from the 3-point line in 2019.
The Belmont graduate made his mark on the national stage when he scored 35 points and rebounded 11 in an heart-breaking 79-77 loss to the University of Maryland in the NCAA Tournament.
Since then, Windler signed with Priority Sports Management and has been working tirelessly to improve his game and show the NBA he is ready for a shot to play with the world’s best basketball players.
While in Chicago for the NBA Combine, Windler worked out and lived in the same complex with college superstars like Bruno Fernando from Maryland, Carsen Edwards from Purdue University and NCAA champion Ty Jerome from the University of Virginia.
“It’s been a lot of fun honestly,” said Windler. “Obviously all of those guys are great athletes and very competitive. But once you get to know them and hangout with them you become friends with them.”
Windler spent five days at the combine competing in shooting drills, being interviewed by 12 different teams and then spending almost five hours in the hospital meeting with team doctors.
“They just want to know everything about your body and making sure you’re healthy,” said Windler.
Hard work has been the narrative for most of Windler’s career as he went relatively unnoticed in high school due to splitting time between basketball and golf.
The Indiana native was listed as a two-star recruit but is now a stepping stone away from the NBA. This is unheard of, but Windler said he’s ready for the next level.
“It’s going to take a lot of time, developing my game,” Windler said. “It’s going to be a grind, you just have to believe that you belong there.”
Since the NBA Combine, Windler worked out with 10 NBA teams including the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics twice and the Golden State Warriors.
Windler says the traveling and the post-combine team workouts have been the most rigorous parts of this process.
“It’s not only mentally, but physically a stressful time,” Windler said. “You’ve really got to take care of your body and get enough sleep and eat the right foods because it can be a really grueling month.”
Windler is in an interesting spot in most mock drafts as he is floating around in the late first round or early second round.
The Athletic and Sports Illustrated both predict Windler to get drafted in the first round by the Warriors with the 28th pick. USA Today picked Windler to go with the 29th overall pick to the San Antonio Spurs. CBS has Windler going very early in the second round to Philadelphia with 33rd overall pick.
“There’s not anybody I’m set on going to because obviously with the draft there aren’t any guarantees at all,” said Windler. “There’s 30 teams and you can’t really set your mind on one or two teams.”
It may not seem like a big difference between getting picked in the first or second round but it plays a lot into whether these players will make the roster or not. A first round pick is guaranteed a two-year contract and at least $1.3 million in his first year in the NBA, according to the sports website RealGM. Second round picks most likely will end up in the G-League, which is the NBA’s minor league system, and won’t play in the NBA until a year or two after being drafted.
After putting in the work and traveling around the country meeting with 10 teams, all Windler can do is wait and see what the future holds.
“People just remind me to have fun with it and not to put too much pressure on yourself,” said Windler. “You only go through this process one time so it’s going to fly by.”
The NBA Draft will air on ESPN on Thursday night at 6 p.m..
— Photo by Carina Eudy.