Ohio State’s Malaki Branham Invited to 2022 NBA Draft
We have known for a while that Malaki Branham was heading to the NBA draft. The one-time Ohio State star announced after his freshman season that he was declaring himself for the draft and announced in late April that he would keep his name in the pool and hire an agent. But now Branham is actually going to the draft.
According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Branham is one of the players who received an invitation to attend this year’s NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Branham is one of 16 players who received an invitation, by Givonywhich includes Gonzaga Chet Holmgrenduke Paolo BancheroPurdue Jaden Iveyfrom iowa Keegan Murray and Wisconsin Johnny Davis.
Players who are invited to the NBA draft are usually the ones who should hear their names called early in the process. While Branham came to Ohio State without many NBA members knowing his name, he is now projected as a lottery pick after just one season.
During his year with the Buckeyes, Branham went from a talented and exciting prospect for the Scarlet and Gray to one of the toughest players to keep in the Big Ten. Branham’s game is moving favorably toward what NBA teams are looking for in the draft, which is why he chose to forgo another year of college.
Branham is a native of Columbus, Ohio who moved to Akron to play Saint-Vincent-St. Mary High School. After leading the Irish to a state championship in his senior season, Branham left high school as a a four-star prospect, the highest-ranked player in the state and one of the nation’s top 40 prospects in the 2021 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite. Branham was also named Mr. Ohio Basketball in 2021.
Although he has no major Ohio State attachment, Branham has committed to the Buckeyes on offers from a number of top programs. His decision to stay in his home country paid off.
Branham started the 2021-22 season coming off the bench for the Scarlet and Gray but head coach Chris Holtman slotted him into the starting lineup ahead of the second game of the year and never looked back. Although it took time for Branham to fully adapt to college play, once he did, opposing teams had problems.
The freshman announced himself to the world of college basketball in early January, scoring a career-high 35 points in an overtime win at Nebraska. This follows a 22-day layoff for the team due to an outbreak of COVID-19 and Branham, who has never tested positive for the virus, carried the band that night.
Branham went on to establish himself as Ohio State’s second-highest scorer behind the junior forward EJ Liddellrating double digits in 17 of the Buckeyes’ 20 remaining games this year. Branham was crucial in an overtime win over Indiana – scoring 27 points – and in a road upset against Illinois – scoring 31 points. Branham then had 23 points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a loss to Villanova.
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The 2022 NBA Draft is set to take place on Thursday, June 23 from Barclays Center. In addition to Branham, Liddell should also hear his name called in the first round of the draft.