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Caleb Houstan projected to be picked in first round of latest ESPN NBA mock draft

It seems likely Houstan is staying in the draft.

Villanova v Michigan Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

With only four teams remaining in the NBA playoffs, Mock Draft season is in full swing, especially after last night when the lottery set the order for next month’s draft.

The two Michigan players who entered their names into the NBA Draft, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, have been featured sparingly in mock drafts over the last few weeks. But for the first time this spring, Houstan has been projected by a major draft analyst to be taken in the first round.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony projected Houstan to be picked by the Oklahoma Thunder with the 30th overall pick, saying that despite spotty play in his freshman season, he has the size and the shooting ability to earn some minutes in the NBA.

“The Thunder have precious few roster spots at their disposal and four draft picks (three first-rounders), meaning there is a decent chance they won’t be making this selection ultimately. One of the big mysteries surrounding the 2022 NBA draft will be where Caleb Houstan, a onetime projected top-10 pick, ends up. Houstan declined his invite to the NBA combine, indicating there might be something to the rumors of a first-round promise, or that Houstan has a landing spot he’s comfortable with. Houstan’s positional size, defensive awareness and perimeter shooting gives him a high floor as a prospect, despite his disappointing freshman season at Michigan.”

As he hinted at in the article, according to a recent report from Givony, some NBA teams are speculating Houstan has been promised to be selected in the first round.

That might be surprising to hear for some Michigan fans, considering Houstan was far from spectacular in his first season of college basketball. Starting in all 34 games last season, Houstan averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 32 minutes per game, making 38.4% of his field goals, 35.5% of his threes and 78.3% of his free throws.

It’s fair to say Michigan fans started to become frustrated with Houstan as the year went along simply because of his inconsistency. There were times where he showed why he was a five-star recruit and looked like Michigan’s best offensive player, especially when he was making threes and thriving in the flow of the offense. But there were also times where he struggled to create his own shot or get to the free throw line. He also struggled with confidence all year long. If he missed his first few shots or got blocked early in game, you could see his body language shift and it’d be easy to forget that he was even out there.

If NBA teams truly have promised to take him in the first 30 picks, it’s hard to see Houstan returning for his sophomore season. Givony is one of the most plugged-in draft analysts out there and if he’s already projected Houstan to be a first rounder, other analysts are sure to follow suit after getting intel from NBA teams.

Diabate doesn’t appear in that latest two-round mock from Givony, but he has been working out with NBA teams, including the San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers.