“With the 14th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls select Denzel Valentine.”
With those words from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the dream of a kid from J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing, Michigan who became the most decorated player in Michigan State history, became a reality.
Valentine finished his career with his name scattered throughout the record books at Michigan State. He ranks as the only Spartan in history to finish in the top 10 in both assists (639) and rebounds (859) and he is also first player in Big Ten history to have 1,300 points, 700 rebounds and 500 assists in a career.
Valentine was named the Big Ten’s Male Athlete of the Year yesterday. That is just the most recent in a list of awards which includes being named National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Basketball Times, Sports Illustrated, USA TODAY Sports and NBC Sports. According to MSU Athletics, he was also the recipient of both the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award as presented by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and the Senior CLASS Award. Valentine became the eighth Spartan to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, and was a unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten selection.
He was one of the most discussed players in the draft, due to his versatility and leadership abilities. This week questions surfaced about the long term health of his knees, and that effected his stock in some mock drafts but as those stories calmed down we saw him climb back up to a top 15 pick, where he has been for most of the season.