Let’s imagine a utopian world where professional track and field was like every major sport, and top prospects wishing to be paid for their services could be selected in an amateur draft. Never mind that a singular league comprised of individual teams could never exist in a sport as disparate as track and field, where various elements of running, jumping and throwing are all encompassed under one roof. We’re not getting caught up in logistics here. So in honor of tonight’s NBA Draft, here is a very fake but totally fun track and field mock draft order for either those who have announced their intentions to go pro in 2019 or, in Matthew Boling’s case, a pre-college 19-year-old who would be age-eligible under the NBA’s rules.
(Note: many of the top female collegiate athletes, i.e. Angie Annelus, Jessica Hull and Janeek Brown, have not announced their future intentions and/or have NCAA eligibility remaining.)
1. Sha’Carri Richardson, Age: 19 years, 86 days
The Zion of the 2019 pro class is unquestionably Sha’Carri Richardson after she smashed the collegiate and world junior records with her 10.75 100m at NCAAs. Richardson’s world-class ability in the 100m and 200m at just 19 would make her the obvious top selection.
2. Matthew Boling, Age: 19 years, 1 day
To be clear, high school phenom Matthew Boling is attending Georgia this fall. But already having turned 19, the viral star would be eligible for this imaginary draft and would no doubt be selected near the top. With “just” a 10.13 wind legal personal best, Boling is a raw prospect who is not nearly as polished as the other sprinters here, but his youth combined with his tantalizing range from 100m to 400m and the long jump would be tough to pass on.
3. Mondo Duplantis, Age: 19 years, 222 days
You know the best pole vaulter in the world in 2018 would not slip out of the top three in a hypothetical track and field draft. Mondo’s chances of winning a world title in 2019 are perhaps higher than anyone else in this class, so he could contribute right away.
4. Grant Holloway, Age: 21 years, 213 days
The first upperclassman off the board would be hurdler/sprinter extraordinaire Grant Holloway. Holloway is not only the fastest high hurdler in the world right now, but also the top showman in the entire sport. If you’re a GM in this nonexistent track league, you want Holloway on your team.
5. Divine Oduduru, Age: 22 years, 255 days
Speaking of showmen, two-way threat Divine Oduduru is still there at five and teams who have hoarded picks would be looking to trade up for the Nigerian’s 100m and 200m services. Oduduru wasn’t tested at either distance this past NCAA season, and he’s bound to go faster than 9.86 and 19.73 once he lines up against the likes of Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles.
6. Morgan McDonald, Age: 23 years, 57 days
The Badger by way of Australia is the first distance runner selected, as Morgan McDonald has the highest floor of anybody in the top ten. You know what you’re getting if you select him: a proven winner and a kick that is rapidly becoming world-class.
7. Cravon Gillespie, Age: 22 years, 323 days
Virtually no one had Cravon Gillespie going top ten before this outdoor season, one because this isn’t real and two because the Oregon sprinter didn’t emerge as a 100m/200m superstar until late in his outdoor campaign. But his 9.93/19.93 double at NCAAs indicates that medals are in his future.
8. Daniel Roberts, Age: 21 years, 68 days
Roberts’ stock took a minor hit with his loss at NCAAs, but teams are still salivating over his meteoric rise to the top of the hurdle world in 2019. The former Kentucky star said he made mistakes in the NCAA final and yet still managed to run 13.00, and a theoretical team could see a big payoff with a few technical tweaks.
9. Kenny Bednarek, Age: 20 years, 250 days
Kenny B has not announced his intention to go pro yet, but 19.82 and 44.73 on the same day pretty much made the announcement for the junior college product. Bednarek is a bit of a flyer since his best work comes from the junior college championships, but that could also be viewed as a positive.
10. Kayla White, Age: 22 years, 269 days
The 2019 NCAA 100m runner-up held the world lead at 10.96 for over a month before NCAAs. Her 10.95 in Austin paled in comparison to Richardson's collegiate record, but when combined with her 200m indoor title, White is a consensus top 10 pick.