Tristan Enaruna an NBA Draft pick? Why not?

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Photo courtesy of Cleveland State Athletics

We have officially arrived at NBA Draft week. While most of the conversations have centered around the top of the draft and the assessment that this draft is, by historical standards, pretty weak, there may yet be some intrigue as far as Horizon League fans are concerned.

To date, there have been multiple recent Horizon League players that have been involved in pre-draft workouts with individual teams. Naturally, Jack Gohlke has been one of them, working out with seven teams, including the Bucks, Pacers, Grizzlies and Thunder, while his Oakland teammate Rocket Watts also worked out with the Houston Rockets.

But no single Horizon League alum has been looked at as a potential draft pick more than Cleveland State’s Tristan Enaruna, thanks to his exhaustive pre-draft work.

If you watched any Vikings game throughout the season, plenty of mention was made of Enaruna’s pro potential, perhaps even as an NBA pick. However, when the season drew to a close, the 6-8 All-Horizon League first-teamer was still considered an unknown outside of conference circles.

Portsmouth appeared to change all of that.

Enaruna was invited to the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, long known as a showcase for potential NBA picks. This year’s edition of the tourney featured, along with Enaruna, other NBA prospects such as Issac Jones from Washington State, a projected second-rounder per NBADraft.net, and Enrique Freeman, who’s also been tabbed as a second-round selection by ESPN.com.

As part of the team sponsored by Jani-King, Enaruna came out hot in the opening match-up against the Portsmouth SC team, shooting 9-for-14 from the field and a near-perfect 5-for-6 at the free throw line to finish with a game-high 25 point, pacing Jani-King to an 85-79 win.

Jani-King would go on to win the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, and for his efforts, Enaruna was named tourney MVP, as well as to the all-tourney first team. While a trip to the NBA Draft Combine was not in the offing, an invitation to the G League Elite Camp in Chicago was.

After that, it’s been plenty of individual workouts with a host of NBA teams. In fact, it’s probably easier to list which teams haven’t worked Enaruna out as opposed to those who have.  Unranked on NBADraft.net at the end of the season, he’s also worked his way into the top 100 of the draft class of 2024 as well.

The question remains, though: Does Enaruna have a shot at being drafted? It’s likely that he will per a part of the NBA Summer League and almost certainly be offered something in the way of a free agent deal. His name will also probably be called when the G League holds its draft. But can he be one of the 58 players drafted this week?

It’s not out of the question. Given the volatility of the draft landscape, especially in the second round (except likely the Lakers, who all pundits believe will take Bronny James), picking based on position need will supersede everything. And given that Enaruna has proven his abilities, he’s more than justified being considered as a pick. We’ll find out soon enough, as the NBA Draft takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with the first round kicking off at 8pm ET on Wednesday, June 26th, and the second round starting at 4pm ET on Thursday, June 27th.

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