It’s no secret what NBA teams want to see from Brice Sensabaugh in the pre-draft process.
“Defense. He’s gotta prove he can defend,” Big Ten Network’s Andy Katz said during the NBA Combine this past week in Chicago. “Everyone knows he can put the ball in the basket.”
The Ohio State forward is well aware of that fact. Despite becoming the first freshman to lead the Buckeyes in scoring since D’Angelo Russell (2014-15) with an average of 16.3 points per game this past season, his defensive shortcomings occasionally forced Chris Holtmann and company to take him off the court in crucial stretches.
As a result, Sensabugh prioritized defensive improvement in the leadup to the combine and will continue to do so in workouts for NBA teams this month.
“Just taking on that defensive role, showing the effort is there and things of that nature. Just continue to get better and keep working in this pre-draft process on things like that,” Sensaugh told Katz during media availability at the combine. “I think in the league, the young guys have to defend first. So just keep working on that and being that kind of two-way player that’s needed.”
"In the League, the young guys have to defend first."@OhioStateHoops' @bricepsense spoke with @TheAndyKatz at the @NBADraft Combine about proving he can excel on both sides of the ball at the next level: pic.twitter.com/yBhJq6T151— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) May 19, 2023
But any perceived defensive liabilities haven’t hurt Sensabaugh’s draft stock much over the past month. In nine of the 10 projections used in our mock draft roundup at the beginning of the month, Sensabaugh was slated as a first-round pick, with one mock placing him as an early second-round selection. Following both the NBA Draft Lottery and NBA Combine last week, the consensus remains the same: Sensabaugh should go in round No. 1 come June 22 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
While Sensabaugh was present at the combine, he didn’t take official measurements, nor did he participate in five-on-five drills in Chicago. So while he didn’t give himself an opportunity to boost his stock on the court, his status as a first-rounder still appears to be safe.
Unfortunately for Buckeye fans who hoped to have Sensabuagh back in scarlet and gray for a sophomore season, that possibility has now been all but extinguished. Sensabaugh declared for the draft while maintaining his collegiate eligibility back in March, but now has just eight days to withdraw his name from draft consideration.
And when Katz asked the Florida native about Ohio State’s outlook on the 2023-24 season, Sensabaugh’s answer didn’t reflect a player that plans to be back in college.
“I think they’ll be well with the young core. Obviously they can build on last season,” Sensabaugh said. “They’ve got the experience now and with those main guys being there, I think it’ll be different. I’m excited to see what they can do, for sure.”
With exactly 30 days to go before Sensabaugh realizes his dream, we’re taking another look at where NBA draft analysts think the prolific scorer might land at the next level. You can check out each full mock draft used in our roundup below.
- ESPN, Jonathan Givony
- CBS Sports, Kyle Boone
- CBS Sports, Gary Parrish
- CBS Sports, Adam Finkelstein
- Yardbarker, Pat Heery
- NBA Draft Room
- NBC Sports, Tyler Byrum and Chase Hughes
- The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor
Sensabaugh Draft Projections
CBS (Parrish): Round 1, No. 15 overall, Atlanta Hawks
Tankathon: Round 1, No. 15 overall, Atlanta Hawks
ESPN (Givony): Round 1, No. 20 overall, Houston Rockets
CBS (Boone): Round 1, No. 21 overall, Brooklyn Nets
NBC (Byrum, Hughes): Round No. 1, No. 24 overall, Sacramento Kings
CBS (Finkelstein): Round 1, No. 25 overall, Memphis Grizzlies
Yardbarker (Heery): Round 1, No. 26 overall, Indiana Pacers
NBA Draft Room: Round 1, No. 27 overall, Charlotte Hornets
The Ringer (O’Connor): Round 1, No. 28 overall, Utah Jazz
NBADraft.net: Round 1, No. 30 overall, LA Clippers
Sensabaugh’s ceiling did fall a few picks since our last mock draft roundup, but not by much. Both Parrish and Tankathon had Sensabaugh going No. 11 overall as a lottery pick in earlier projections, but both now have Sensabaugh falling just out of lottery range. At No. 15 overall, the Atlanta Hawks are the only team that multiple analysts in our roundup see taking Sensabaugh.
Still, those two mocks are still slightly higher on Sensabaugh than the rest of the prognostications we used, as no other analysts see him going in the teens.
But even the lowest projection for Sesnabugh is still in the first-round range. NBADraft.net, the only outlet to put Sensabaugh out of the first round in our mock draft roundup at the start of May, now predicts he’ll be selected as the final pick of the opening round, going to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 30.
Just like last time, most analysts see Sensabaugh going somewhere in the 20s on draft night. Seven of the 10 projections think Sensabaugh will be selected between No. 20 and No. 28, with each of those mocks predicting a different landing spot for the 6-foot-6 wing. Possible teams that could win Sensabaugh’s services in that range include the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz. In Houston, Sensabaugh could team up with fellow former Buckeye Jae’Sean Tate, should he remain with the franchise over the offseason.
One way or the other, Sensabaugh is well on his way to becoming the second consecutive one-and-done NBA prospect for the Ohio State basketball program, following Malaki Branham in 2022. And if the aforementioned mock drafts are any indication, he’ll likely become Holtmann’s second-ever first-round pick in as many years.
Like Branham, Sensabaugh wasn’t on many preseason draft boards entering his first year of college, but said his work ethic has put him in position to reach the next level much earlier than most expected.
“Just putting in the extra work, the extra hours, whether it be watching film, in the weight room or getting extra shots up on the court. Putting in that extra time was super important for me, and I think hard work pays off,” Sensabaugh said. “And it did for me. Whether it was one-on-one with my position coach, getting shots up after practice, extra conditioning. Whatever it was, I think that extra work pays off.”