Draft season is over.
Looking at the NBA and baseball drafts is one way to compare the Missouri Valley Conference and the American Athletic Conference. It’s not the only way — the Valley’s Missouri State made a super regional; no AAC team did.
Twenty-six American baseball players were drafted, most in the conference’s four seasons. Eleven went in the top 10 rounds, led by South Florida shortstop Kevin Merrell at No. 33 overall.
The Valley had 24 athletes drafted, its most since 2007 (27). Seven went in the top 10 rounds. Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger went 11th in the first round.
In 2016, 18 American players were drafted. The Valley had 17.
The difference is more striking in the NBA, even though the draft wasn’t particularly impressive for the American.
SMU’s Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown and Houston’s Damyean Dotson were picked, all in the second round.
The last MVC player drafted was Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early, a 2014 second-rounder. Bradley’s Patrick O’Bryant is the most recent first-rounder, in 2006.
To find the last time the NBA grabbed three MVC players, go back to 1985. Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel went No. 4 overall, followed by WSU’s Aubrey Sherrod (second round) and Bradley’s Voise Winters (second round) and five in later rounds (the NBA Draft dropped to two rounds in 1989).
The AAC has not been a haven for high-end talent in its short history. UConn’s Shabazz Napier is the AAC’s lone first-round pick, in 2014.
These numbers square with our general perception of the American.
It’s a step up from the MVC, bigger in some areas than others. It is a step down from the likes of the ACC and Big 12. The SEC, for example, had 75 baseball players selected in the draft, eight in the first round.