Rick Byrd won his first NCAA tournament game against Temple March 19. Then, just 13 days later, Byrd retired.
Also leaving the Belmont men’s basketball program after this season is senior Dylan Windler. Windler was the preseason favorite to win the OVC MVP award. That was before everyone knew what Ja Morant was capable of.
Nonetheless, the OVC has a second draft projection in Windler. Windler has not commanded near the same amount of attention nationally that Morant has, but that does not take away from what Windler has done this season, which was quite a bit.
As of right now, ESPN has Windler ranked as the 34th best college player for the draft. If that were to hold up in the draft itself, he would be taken early in the second round.
But is Windler worth a pick in the second round, much less a pick at all? He definitely is, and he would fill a pretty unique role on whatever NBA team ends up drafting him.
Is he the type of player to come out of the draft scoring 20 points per game, right away? Probably not, but his impact early on will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Windler averaged an astounding 10.8 rebounds per game this season, which is something opposing teams acknowledged was spectacular on his part. That average put him at 10th in the NCAA for the statistic. What makes that number even more impressive is the fact that Belmont started a 6-foot-11 center who only averaged 5.8 rebounds per game. What that really says about Windler is his drive to go after every rebound, which is a nice commodity for any team to have: A hustle rebounder. And if all else fails for him in a game, meaning he is not getting shots to fall, he will make sure to make his impact on the boards.
Against UCLA Dec. 15, Windler shot 4-14 overall with a rough 12 points, but he grabbed 15 total
rebounds and had two steals. In an important regular-season matchup against Morant’s Murray State on the road Jan. 24, Windler only had five points on 2-7 shooting, but he grabbed 13 rebounds and had a block.
Lastly, on what was part of the biggest moment for both Windler and Byrd’s career, the NCAA
tournament game against Temple, Windler again only had five points on 2-7 shooting and was
kept away from the basket all game, but had 14 total rebounds and three important steals.
He also is a versatile, hustle defender and is able to keep ball handlers in front of him. So, what Windler offers to NBA teams right away is a solid defender. Again, he will not be Defensive Player of the Year right away (probably not), but he can give you good minutes defensively.
But he is a complete player and is primed to go off any night scoring wise, too. After getting shut down by Temple, Windler erupted for 35 points against a better Maryland team. That included 7-14 shooting from three-point range.
Speaking of which, Windler led the Ohio Valley Conference in three-point field goal percentage (42.9 percent) while shooting the most amount of threes of any player on the list. His average of 21.3 points per game was also third in the conference. Only Morant and Nick Mayo, an underrated player graduating from Eastern Kentucky, averaged more.
Yet, with his ability to score anywhere on the floor, he will have a tough time doing so right away at the next level. He is not the fastest player, and as much as he can score, he sometimes is not able to create for
In that Temple game, Nate Pierre-Louis and Shizz Alston Jr. gave Windler fits. The only shots Windler was able to get off cleanly were a long three (that he made) and a backdoor cut when his defender briefly turned away.
Windler needs to get quicker so he is able to beat defenders off the dribble. He can already post up and control his body well inside, so just getting the extra step ahead of his defender is what he needs to be completely rounded out.
With that said, Windler could be a good small forward/power forward hybrid in the NBA. He will likely come off the bench to start his career, while being a valuable player.
After a couple of seasons, when his scoring has grown more, he will find himself starting games
Windler can be a good player for whoever drafts him, we, like him, will just have to wait and
see who does.