Podziemski: Ex-Wisconsin prep star has NBA scouts attention


CHICAGO – When Brandin Podziemski opted to transfer from Illinois to Santa Clara last summer, there was anything but a buzz in the college men’s basketball community.

And that’s understandable. Podziemski had played one season for the Illini, one uneventful season. He averaged a meager 1.4 points a game.

Fast forward to today and there is plenty of buzz surrounding Podziemski. He is, in some NBA officials eyes, one of the most intriguing players in this year’s NBA draft

 “He’s pretty much come out of nowhere,’’ an NBA scout said of Podziemski, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard. “I have him going early in the second round of the draft; Last year, I didn’t even have him on my draft list.

“He’s a good player. He’s a very good shooter, one of the better ones in the draft. He has good court vision. He’s not real athletic but I think he’s crafty enough to overcome that.

“Like I said, I have him near the top of the second round, but I know some guys (NBA officials) who rank him higher.’’

Podziemski put himself in an enviable position to earn some nice cash after fashioning a fantastic season at Santa Clara. The 2021 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball from tiny St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy scored 30 points in Santa Clara’s season opener against Eastern Washington – or eight more than he scored in his entire season at Illinois — and never looked back.

Podziemski finished the season, averaging 19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 32 games for the Broncos. He also shot a lofty 48.8 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range. He was duly recognized for his stellar season by being chosen the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.

Podziemski, a left-handed shooter, has drawn comparisons to two current NBA players: Luke Kennard of the Memphis Grizzlies and Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat.

Herro, like Podziemski, is from Wisconsin: – Herro is from Greenfield and played at Whitnall High School and Podziemski is from Muskego. They have become friends with Podziemski having played for Herro’s summer travel team.

Podziemski sees some similarities in their game, but longs to carve out his own niche.

“I feel like we play alike,’’ Podziemski said. “But I’m me and he’s him. I try to be myself. I’m Brandin and I want to make my own story.’’

Podziemski’s amazing story resumes this week in Chicago. He is participating in the NBA Combine. How well he fares in the week-long event could tilt the scales as to whether he remains in the draft or returns to Santa Clara.

An NBA executive, attending the combine, believes Podziemski is leaning strongly toward staying in the draft. He also contends Podziemski will wind up being chosen at the tail end of the first round in the draft, especially considering Podziemski has one major attribute that all NBA teams crave.

“He definitely could go in the first round,’’ the executive said. “He obviously has some flaws; he’s not as athletic as you’d like. But he can shoot the ball and our league is all about shooting the ball.’’

— Photo courtesy of Santa Clara Athletics