UNI's O'Rear gets draft-day surprise

No, Lucas O'Rear -- he of the menacing sideburns and effective post play during Northern Iowa's Sweet 16 run in the 2010 NCAA tournament -- was not drafted to the NBA. Two realities prevented this occurrence: One, the NBA draft hasn't happened yet. And two, even if it had, there is no way an NBA team would have used one of its two draft picks on the stocky 6-foot-6 forward from Nashville, Ill.

But O'Rear is a man of many talents, and among them, apparently, is baseball. O'Rear was a right-handed pitcher for UNI's now-defunct baseball team. On Monday night, he got a surprise: The Cincinnati Reds had chosen him in the 13th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

That he was drafted wasn't the surprise; most expected O'Rear to come off the draft board eventually, most likely after round 50, because baseball has a gazillion rounds in its draft, many of which produce players who never catch a whiff of professional baseball.

The surprise was how high O'Rear was drafted. Round No. 13 approaches legitimate "I should think about a baseball career" territory, which is what O'Rear must now do. On Tuesday, O'Rear told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that there's a "high likelihood" he'll return for his senior year at UNI, but that he has to consult with his father and UNI head coach Ben Jacobson before making a decision.

I've never seen O'Rear pitch the baseball, but I have seen him -- 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, with sideburns to make Grizzly Adams blush. If only there was a sabermetric projection for intimidating mound presence. (Knowing sabermetrics, there probably is.)