Coaches vs. Cancer Classic alums in the 2015 NBA Draft

Throughout the men’s college basketball season, multi-day charity tournaments occur at various venues across the United States.  On the surface, they may appear to be exhibitions, but the wins and losses from these events count towards schools’ regular season records leading up to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

These events, in a competitive format, also serve as a way to glimpse future NBA stars in the making.  One such pair of doubleheaders, the Northwestern Mutual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn every year just before the Thanksgiving break.  The 2013 field boasted the No. 1 team at the time, Michigan State, whereas in 2014, Classic champions Duke ended up winning the national title four months later.  With the 2015 NBA Draft concluding late last week, we at Meniscus Magazine decided to take a look at the players from the past two Coaches vs. Cancer Classics who were chosen in the Top 60.

2015 NBA Draft picks: Round 1

3) Jahlil Okafor – Duke (2014 Coaches vs. Classic alum)

10) Justise Winslow – Duke (2014)

24) Tyus Jones – Duke (2014)

Widely touted at the start of the season as the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor settled for third behind Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) and D’Angelo Russell (Ohio), and was chosen by the Philadelphia 76ers.  (Fun fact: Jahlil is a distant cousin of NBA player Emeka, currently a free agent.)  Even sweeter for Okafor, Justise Winslow (picked 10th by the Miami Heat) and Tyus Jones (24th, traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves by the Cleveland Cavaliers) was that the three Duke freshmen – and good friends – fulfilled a promise that they set before entering school: bring a national championship back to Coach Mike Krzyzewski.  Now, the trio share their rings and the distinction that they are NBA Draft first-round picks.

17) Rashad Vaughn – UNLV (2014)

Rashad Vaughn, 18, a 6’5″, 200-lb. freshman shooting guard for UNLV, was chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 17th pick.  According to UNLV Coach Dave Rice on the NBA’s website, “It was difficult being Rashad Vaughn when you come in with a lot of pressure [as a five-star recruit]. But he’s an unbelievable kid who plays hard every day, who’s coachable, takes everything to heart and just wants to be good.”

2015 NBA Draft picks: Round 2

34) Anthony Brown – Stanford (2014)

Fifth-year senior Anthony Brown played for former Krzyzewski assistant Johnny Dawkins at Stanford, the losing finalists in the 2014 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic title game.  The Los Angeles Lakers picked up the 6’7”, 215-lb. small forward as the No. 34 pick overall.  It should be noted that Stanford went on to capture the 2015 NIT Championship.  (Brown’s fellow Stanford graduate and the MVP of that tournament, Chasson Randle, went undrafted and will give the NBA Summer League a shot.)


56) Branden Dawson – Michigan State (2013)

Senior small forward Branden Dawson competed in the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, where he and top-ranked Michigan State won the title.  This past season, Dawson and the Spartans made the NCAA Final Four, losing to eventual champions Duke.  After being drafted No. 56 overall, the New Orleans Pelicans dealt him to the Los Angeles Clippers.  Dawson joins fellow Classic champions and former Spartans teammates Adreian Payne (15th in the 2014 NBA Draft) and Gary Harris (19th the same year) as NBA Draft picks.

All photos in this article were taken by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine.