Daisy Rymer | Sports Layout Editor
The dreadfully hot summer of 2018 proved to be, in fact, quite delightful for Tulane Athletics, as a whopping six former members of Green Wave teams were drafted into professional leagues. These six standout athletes were selected into three of the most prestigious leagues of competition in the nation: the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. Tulane University was one of only 24 schools in the nation to have at least one player drafted in each of these highly-regarded leagues in 2018.
While the majority of this action took place over the summer months, the madness officially began in late April, when Tulane Football’s Parry Nickerson and Ade Aruna were both selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Nickerson, a redshirt senior cornerback, was selected with the 179th overall pick by the New York Jets. The speedster is expected to fulfill a slot corner role for the Jets secondary, where he will join forces with former LSU safety Jamal Adams.
Shortly after Nickerson’s selection, Aruna, a redshirt senior defensive lineman, was drafted 218th overall by the Minnesota Vikings. Aruna will likely fill the role of a defensive end for Minnesota once he recovers from a knee injury endured in the Vikings’ preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A mere two months after the fanfare surrounding the eventful NFL Draft, Tulane continued to make waves in June’s MLB Draft. In the fourth round of this draft, junior outfielder Grant Witherspoon became the fourth Green Wave player to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. Several days after this selection, he was assigned to the minor league affiliate Princeton Rays, where he is currently posting a .256 batting average.
Deeper in the MLB Draft, two additional members of the Green Wave were also selected to make their entrance into the pros. Junior right-hander Will McAffer was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 25th round of the draft, while sophomore third-baseman Kody Hoese was taken by the Kansas City Royals 10 rounds later.
Though both the NFL and MLB drafts both posed quite well for Tulane Athletics, the excitement carried into the month of June with the coming of the 2018 NBA Draft. In the second round, junior guard Melvin Frazier was selected 35th overall by the Orlando Magic. With this selection, Frazier became the Green Wave’s first NBA Draft selection since 1997. He will likely serve in a swingman role for the team, akin to his role as a member of the Green Wave.
Frazier was not the only Tulane representative to make a splash in the NBA. Following the draft, redshirt senior forward Cameron Reynolds signed a contract with the Sacramento Kings. Reynolds went on to play for the Kings’ Summer League team and is at a minimum guaranteed a roster spot on the Kings G-League team in Stockton, California.
Green Wave Athletics is undoubtedly thrilled with the results of these major offseason drafts. With players entering three of the nation’s top professional sports leagues in a single year, Tulane is reentering national conversations. Only time will tell if the formerly mighty Wave can truly rise again.