Former Villanova standout guard Darrun Hilliard II was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 38th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He is the first player to be drafted out of Nova since 2009, when forward Dante Cunningham was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 33rd pick. Hilliard was unlikely to be chosen. He was only rated as the 62nd best prospect by DraftExpress and was not even included in Sports Illustrated's top 60 prospects, prior to the draft.
The Bethlehem, PA native’s ability to be a jack of trades stood out during pre-draft workouts. Hilliard’s trait of consistently knocking down three pointers hit home with Pistons Head Coach/General Manager Stan Van Gundy, who values three point shooting. The Pistons have struggled with outside shooting over the past few years and hope that the former Wildcat can help, after he shot 38.7% from three during his senior year under coach Jay Wright.
In addition, resiliency is one word that could describe his career on the Mainline. After playing in 29 games, averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds during his freshman year, he would come back his sophomore year and average 11.4 points, while starting in all 34 games. His junior year would be his breakout year, averaging a career high in points with 14.3 and shooting 41% from the three point line. He would maintain his scoring at 14.3 ppg during his last collegiate season.
Scouts project the 6-foot-6 guard as a 3-and-D player but he can do so much more. Hilliard is a good ball handler. He can make pocket passes off of the pick and roll. Furthermore, he can even finish at the rim with consistency and strength. Also, this past season he was called upon multiple times during crunch time to make the decisive shot or game winning play and he often delivered.
Now, Hilliard is not super athletic and his inability to rebound down low is something that may concern many NBA scouts because of his 6-foot-6, 220 pound frame but his 6’8 wingspan should reassure them. His long arms and competitiveness will allow him to cover guards and small forwards.
Getting drafted into the NBA is one thing but making an NBA roster is a whole another story. Versatility is Hilliard’s greatest attribute but will it be enough to make the Pistons’ or any other NBA teams roster? His first opportunity to prove that he belongs will come on July 4th, when Detroit opens up their Summer League play in Orlando, Florida.
Hilliard projects to be the starting shooting guard for the Pistons during Summer League play, alongside point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, recent 8th overall pick Stanley Johnson, and forward Quincy Miller.
After playing against the Indiana Pacers on July 8th at the 2015 Orlando Summer League, hopefully he will have done enough to earn a team invite. We’ll have to wait and see if Hilliard can make it onto the Pistons’ regular season roster or any NBA roster for that matter.
Photo courtesy of mlive.com
-(1) Villanova faces (9) Alabama in the second round of the NCAA tournament