The 2015 NBA Draft Thread: Draft Day Is Here - Page 8
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They were trying to compete with the knicks for popularity
They will never come close to being relevant here.
Plumlee is a real good piece, though.
NBA's next great defensive big man
There are 25 or so great multiskilled players, commonly known as the superstars. Everyone else is a role player, and that is not meant to be a condemnation.
There are great players in the NBA who do one or two things well enough to be thought of as stars or, at worst, very good players. Kyle Korver is one of the league's best shooters. Tony Allen has carved out a 12-season NBA career as an elite wing defender.
To be effective in a meaningful NBA game, a player has to be very good at something.
Which brings us to Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein. His stock is on the rise, in part, because many NBA teams see an elite athlete with 7-foot size, a 7-2 wingspan and the ability to be an excellent defensive big man who can guard multiple positions in multiple defensive schemes. In short, he is a defensive playmaker.
Though not exactly the same body type, Cauley-Stein can look to guys such as DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler and Andre Drummond, who have all become dominant defensive players in the NBA. He has a chance to affect the game on that end of the court the way they have.
First of all, few big men come into the NBA with Cauley-Stein's ridiculous athleticism. He has had so many jaw-dropping plays this season that they are nearly too numerous to catalog. But if there is one play that epitomizes what I am talking about, it is this dunk at Florida on a Kentucky fast break.
Watch how high he gets on this takeoff and how he finishes this dunk over Gators freshman Devin Robinson.
Although Cauley-Stein's block rate of 6.8 percent (6.8 blocks per 100 2-point field goal attempts) is only slightly more than half that of teammate Karl-Anthony Towns' 12.6 percent, he has all the shot-blocking attributes that someone with his size and athleticism should possess.
At Alabama, watch how he overplays the passing lane at the top of the key and still recovers to the lane to make the play at the rim. His timing is good and he stays away from the driver's body as well.
Keep in mind that with Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Towns and Cauley-Stein, the Wildcats' block rate of 18.7 percent is second best in the country behind Texas' 20.3 percent. So Cauley-Stein does not have to do all of the rim protection himself.
In fact, Kentucky coach John Calipari has at times used Cauley-Stein as a perimeter "stopper."
When Providence's high-scoring, 6-7 forward LaDontae Henton came to Rupp Arena on Nov. 30, he was averaging 24.3 points per game and had scorched Notre Dame the previous week for 38 points. With Cauley-Stein as his primary defender, Henton was held to 1-of-8 shooting and three points against the Wildcats.
And when Kentucky traveled to Tennessee, Cauley-Stein started the game defending the Vols' outstanding point guard, Josh Richardson. The Wildcats won going away while holding Richardson to 4-of-13 shooting.
Keep in mind that Cauley-Stein's steal rate of 3.5 percent is just outside of the top 100, as well. What makes that so impressive is that this list is full of guards and wings, and there is no player in the top 100 who is taller than 6-8.
In the Wildcats' close win at LSU, Cauley-Stein showed off his defensive versatility and effort on this play as he steals the ball, chases it down, saves it from going out of bounds and winds up finishing with the basket off a pass from Towns.
Where much of Cauley-Stein's athleticism will manifest itself in an NBA game will be in defending in screen-and-roll situations. Most NBA teams rely on multiple defensive coverages depending on the skills of the ball handler and the screener. He should feel right at home.
Cauley-Stein will be able to switch onto smaller players, especially at the end of the shot clock, hedge hard and force the ball handler from attacking the basket, or hedging flat or soft, keeping himself closer to the basket. This will make his team's defense more versatile with him on the floor.
One area of concern I have for Cauley-Stein is in defending big, physical players in post-up situations. If he plays early in his career, teams will go at him immediately, and he will need to learn to stand his ground, play with leverage and use his quickness to do his work early inside.
Right now, Cauley-Stein's offense consists mainly of rim-to-rim runs in transition, dump-off dunks off guard penetration and offensive rebound putbacks. As expected, he makes 74 percent of these "at the rim" shots, according to hoop-math.com.
And, while he has shown a willingness to shoot a midrange jump shot, it will not initially be high on the list of priorities for the NBA team that drafts him. This season, his favorite midrange shot area has been at the right elbow, according to shotanalytics.com, and he is making only 27 percent of those shots.
Initially, where Cauley-Stein will put the most pressure on a defense will be in his ability to run the floor. If he runs hard, their recovery to the lane must keep him from scoring at the rim, and it will open up scoring opportunities for his teammates who fill the lanes, space the floor and spot up at the 3-point line.
Here's an example of Cauley-Stein's ability to run the floor and finish in transition. You get an idea here of his unique athleticism and why he was an excellent high school wide receiver.
One thing Cauley-Stein will find in the NBA is more space offensively, and he will have more offensive talent around him, especially on the perimeter. This means that because his teammates' offense will need to be accounted for, scoring opportunities will manifest themselves for him.
When he learns the nuances of the NBA screen-and-roll game, he should develop into a very good rolling finisher at the rim. According to SynergySportsTech, he has been involved in very few of those plays this season. Here is one example of how Cauley-Stein can be effective.
In this side screen-and-roll at Florida, he should screen then roll with more force than he does here. He is still open for the lob because of teammate Tyler Ulis' penetration and the indecision of the Gators defender at the rim. Ulis puts the pass in a place few on the court can get to. This lob play for Cauley-Stein will become routine for him in the NBA.
Offensive rebounding should also become a strength for Cauley-Stein. While his body type will be problematic in terms of banging with more physical post players, his energy and motor have revved higher for the Wildcats this season than it did in his first two campaigns. But more importantly, he is a quick second jumper with agility for his size.
There have been questions in the past about how much Cauley-Stein loves the game and about his maturity. Though NBA teams will be studying those aspects closely, most of those questions have been answered this season.
Last season, he was projected as a first-round pick even after he fractured his left ankle in the NCAA tournament. The injury required surgery and a lengthy recovery, as well. In eschewing the NBA draft, he returned to become one of the most dominant players in college basketball, and his name has even been mentioned in the national player of the year discussion.
Competing for a stacked Kentucky team has allowed Cauley-Stein to play the role he will eventually have in the NBA. He has sacrificed his ego by giving up offensive opportunities but has helped engineer the Wildcats to one of the most dominant defensive seasons in college basketball history.
Sacrificing that ego as an NBA rookie and knowing his role should make his adjustment to the league a little smoother than most.
i don't hate Zach Lavine.
I just dont like bad basketball and ive seen every single Timberwolves game.
no not yet.
He's been really awful, playing PG doesn't help.
He could find a role as a Jamal Crawford type if they move him off the ball.
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Left behind by his one-and-done peers at bigger programs, the 6'11 big man is the SEC’s Player of the Year — erasing many of the doubts.
Portis has made up for lost time as a sophomore in a BIG way, carrying Arkansas to a 24–7 record and getting the program back into the Top 25. Portis, not any of the Kentucky players, was the SEC Player of the Year. He averaged 17.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 assists a game on 56.3% shooting.
And his advanced statistics are just as good:
Now, Portis comes off one of his best games of the season. In an 81–78 loss to LSU on Saturday, he finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks on 17 shots. LSU didn’t have Jordan Mickey, but they still had plenty of size to throw at Portis. Jarrell Martin is listed at 6'10 245, but he had absolutely no answer for Portis on the block:
At 6'11, 240 with a 7'1 wingspan, Portis has an excellent combination of size, speed and athleticism. He has a big body and quick feet and he knows how to use it around the rim:
LSU simply couldn’t keep him off the glass. Portis is a very aggressive big man who can rebound out of his zone and he has the touch to score almost every time he gets a put-back:
The only thing LSU could really do was send help. But even, then Portis had an answer, as he’s significantly improved this season is as a passer, developing a good feel for the game and a sense of when to kick the ball out:
In this sequence, LSU sends a double when Portis is operating out of the mid-post 15+ feet from the basket. He accepts the double team, surveys the floor, and finds the cutter:
What really excites NBA scouts about Portis, though, is his ability to stretch the defense and make them pay for leaving him open anywhere on the floor.
Portis is a career 74.2% FT shooter at the NCAA level, a good indication that he has a repeatable shooting stroke and good touch outside of the paint, something which you don’t see all that often in a 20year old with his type of size.
Here’s a chart showing how all the starting 4's and 5's in the NBA compare to Portis in terms of height vs. free-throw percentage:
Probably the most intriguing part of Portis’ game is the ever-increasing range on his jumper — he is 20–59 from beyond the arc this season. While he is probably years away from being a consistent NBA three-point shooter, if he can add that to his game by the time he is in his mid 20's, there’s no telling how effective he could become. A guy with Portis’ size, athleticism and shooting ability is pretty much the prototypical modern-day NBA big man, especially as more teams begin following the model of the Atlanta Hawks, who stretch out the defense and play five shooters the entire game.
That type of spread offense only works, though, if your shooting big men can play defense like Al Horford and Paul Millsap. Portis, like many big-time scorers his age, has a lot of work to do on that side of the floor, but the physical ability to defend is certainly there. He moves his feet really well for a guy with his size. Here he is switching on the pick-and-roll and hounding the LSU guard into a tough runner in the lane:
Jarrell Martin has made a killing in the SEC (17 points a game on 52% shooting as a sophomore) taking bigger defenders off the dribble, but he had a lot of trouble scoring on Portis when they were matched up 1-on-1:
For as good as he can look at times, though, Portis’ defensive numbers aren’t all that great for a player with his physical ability. Some of that is scheme, as the Razorbacks play a full-court press that wears out them, and allows for a lot of easy run-outs. And some of it comes from the team’s desire to protect Portis from foul trouble, as they really can’t afford to keep him out of the game for too long.
Still, the NBA teams who drafts Portis will be doing so for his offense, and hoping the defense comes along later:
More immediately, however, NBA teams will need to figure out is whether to play Portis as a small-ball 5 or a more traditional 4. While he has shown the ability to protect the rim, he only has a 7'1.5 wingspan, so putting his arms straight in the air isn’t that great a deterrent against NBA-caliber front-court players like Martin:
Ideally, Portis’ ability to stretch the floor will allow him to be paired with a shot-blocking defensive 5 at the next level. He should be able to serve as a small-ball 5 who wants to spread the floor on a second unit, but that may not be something his team wants to try full-time until much later in his career. In that respect, his developmental track could resemble guys like Horford and Chris Bosh, two prototypical 4's who have become undersized 5's in the modern NBA. That’s heady company to put any college player in, to be sure, but the numbers back it up.
Here’s how Portis’ per-40 minute numbers compare with Bosh and Horford in their last seasons of college:
- Portis (sophomore): 24.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks on 56.3% shooting
- Bosh (freshman): 20.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.8 blocks on 56.0% shooting
- Horford (junior): 19.0 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.8 blocks on 60.8% shooting
You haven’t heard much about Portis because he plays for an under-the-radar school which isn’t on national TV very often (in a conference known more for football than basketball). Nevertheless, he is as talented as any big man in the country and he will present a huge match-up problem for whoever draws Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. If he can maintain his production on the biggest stage of the sport, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended up joining Gordon, Vonleh, Parker and Randle as a lottery pick.
The difference between Portis and a guy like Randle, whom he faced off against twice as a freshmen in SEC play, is that he’s the only NBA prospect on his team. It’s all on him. For as well as he played against LSU, Arkansas still lost. Most of the other elite big men in the country hail from programs that pair them with NBA-caliber guards.
No matter what happens to Arkansas in the Big Dance, Portis will almost certainly declare for the NBA Draft because there is nothing more for him to prove at the collegiate level.
Case in point: at a game in November where Portis trounced a stout SMU front-line in their own gym, SMU coach Larry Brown summed it up well afterwards: “That kid [Bobby] Portis is a pretty damn good player. He can step outside and post-up. He’s going to be playing somewhere else pretty soon.”
Who will be the better NBA player, Emmanuel Mudiay or D'Angelo Russell?
That is the great basketball debate in the Philadelphia area. The better guard, at least the one perceived to be better, will almost surely be whichever one is surrounded by a better cast and better coaches or stays healthier.
But when looking at scouting reports and media hype, you see that these two might be difference makers who could help turn a rebuilding team such as the 76ers into an eventual NBA champion.
"They are both going to be franchise players," said an NBA scout, who spoke to The Inquirer on condition of anonymity. "There's no bad pick between the two."
Neither is regarded as the best prospect in the NBA draft. That title goes to Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor. Some might argue that Kentucky center/power forward Karl-Anthony Towns is closing fast and could even surpass Okafor.
But unless the Sixers are secretly unhappy with Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid, they don't need to acquire a center for a third straight draft. And let's face it, the franchise traded point guard Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks last month for a reason.
The Sixers liked the reigning rookie of the year. But they realize they can upgrade the position with either Mudiay or Russell, a combo freshman guard at Ohio State. Mudiay just finished his season as a point guard for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Assuming they get a pick in the top three or four, the Sixers will have until June 25 to decide who the best option is.
"You can't go wrong with either kid," the scout said. "Whoever is on the board, that's who you take. One of them will still be on the board at three or maybe four.
"The Sixers just better have one of those picks."
The scout added that Mudiay and Russell are better than Carter-Williams.
"They are more devoted to their craft," he said. "And I think they both have a higher IQ."
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Mudiay is imposing, like Chester native and New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans.
The Congo native moved to Dallas in 2001 with his family to escape a war. Mudiay was rated the No. 2 college prospect in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com as a senior at Dallas' Prime Prep. After committing in August 2014 to play at Southern Methodist, he instead opted last summer to sign a one-year, $1.2 million deal to play in China.
Mudiay played in just 12 games - 10 regular-season and two playoff - because of an ankle injury. He averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 steals.
"With Mudiay, he combines the physicality with quickness," the scout said. "He's very cerebral.
"He's also a very good kid off the court, a very high character, very focused, and driven. He wants to be the best."
Like Carter-Williams, he struggles shooting from long range. But his shooting woes could be easier to fix, considering he's four years younger than MCW.
"I like him more than Michael Carter-Williams, because he's more of a humble kid," the scout said. "He's more of a student of a game. I think he's more coachable.
"You'll never have to worry about him being disrespectful to staff."
The scout added that he had heard nothing negative about Russell.
The 6-5, 180-pounder is one of college basketball's elite players. The Louisville native is averaging a team-leading 19.1 points and 5.6 rebounds to go with 5.0 assists, 2.9 turnovers, and 1.6 steals. He is shooting 41.5 percent on three-pointers and 45.8 percent from the field.
"He has the ability to create separation and beat you off the dribble," the scout said. "He's always going downhill, always in attack mode. . . .
"I would like him to be more focused and tone down the flare for dramatics."
The scout added that Russell would become a better shooter over time and that his mechanics were good. He does take some tough off-balance shots when he could settle for easier ones.
"That's because he can," the scout said, explaining that Russell knows he's a high-risk, high-reward player susceptible to turnovers because he tries to make big plays.
But like Mudiay, Russell is just 19 years old and has a lot of time to work on his shortcomings.
So who do the Sixers believe will be the better NBA player? We may find out in three months.
NBA scouts are projected to get a long look at all the prospects on undefeated Kentucky during the NCAA tournament. But the list of top NBA prospects playing in March Madness doesn't end with the Wildcats.
"The guys projected at the top of the draft, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell, are really good," one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. "There are also a lot of good point guards in this class. Overall, it's a decent class and no one will turn down their pick when NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on the podium."
Here's the top 10 NBA prospects to watch during the NCAA tournament.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, PF/C, 7-0, 248, Fr. – Scout's comment: "He can score in the post, face and shoot and put it on the floor. There are not many players who can do all the things that he does."
2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke, C, 6-11, 272, Fr. – Scout's comment: "A solid center whose game will open up in the NBA. He has a strong low-post presence. His big body and big hands are also a plus."
3. D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State, PG/SG, 6-5, 180, Fr. – Scout's comment: "The best passer in college. He can defend both guard positions. His versatility could get him drafted over [guard] Emmanuel Mudiay."
4. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, C/PF, 7-0, 244, Jr. – Scout's comment: "He is a long rim-protecting big man. He is the leader of Kentucky. He reminds me a lot of Tyson Chandler. He is a pick-and-roll big man."
5. Stanley Johnson, Arizona, SF, 6-8, 243, Fr. – Scout's comment: "Has a great body and size for a small forward. Not a great shooter, but he can improve. He is a willing defender who makes the effort."
6. Justise Winslow, Duke, SF, 6-7, 229, Fr. – Scout's comment: "Great size and toughness. High ceiling, but is a third or fourth option on a team. Poor shooter. He can be Shane Battier or Metta World Peace, which is not a bad thing."
7. Myles Turner, Texas, C/PF, 6-11, 242, Fr. – Scout's comment: "His per-minutes stats are great. Strong rebounder. Blocks shots. Doesn't appear interested in playing in the post. Likes to shoot jumpers."
8. Kelly Oubre, Kansas, SF, 6-7, 200, Fr. – Scout's comment: "Really like his basketball IQ. He's very long for his position. Has the physical tools to become really good. Needs to improve his jumper."
9. Devin Booker, Kentucky, SG, 6-5, 205, Fr. – Scout's comment: "He has a really good and long jump shot. He works hard on his defense. He has very quick feet. This kid is really on the rise."
10. Tyus Jones, Duke, PG, PG, 6-1, 190, Fr. – Scout's comment: "He makes everyone better. He's little, but more athletic than I thought. He can really pass the basketball and he makes long shots."
Honorable mention: Arizona PF Brandon Ashley, Jr.; Wisconsin SF Sam Dekker, Jr.; Notre Dame PG Jerian Grant, Sr.; Louisville PF Montrezl Harrell, Jr.; Wisconsin PF Nigel Hayes, So.; Kentucky C Dakari Johnson, So.; UCLA SF/PF Kevon Looney, Fr.; Wisconsin C Frank Kaminsky, Sr.; Kentucky PF Trey Lyles, Fr.; Arkansas PF Bobby Portis, So.; Utah PG/SG Delon Wright, Sr.
The Midwest region is, arguably, the region in the NCAA tournament most loaded with NBA prospects. Kentucky having eight 2015 NBA draft prospects has a lot to do with that. Overall, the Midwest side of the bracket features four lottery prospects, an additional eight first-rounders and several intriguing sleepers from mid-major schools.
Insider's NBA draft team has talked to multiple NBA scouts and GMs over the course of the season. Based on their feedback and information, here's a look at the top NBA prospects for each of the teams in the Midwest Region, listed by potential lottery picks, first-rounders, second-rounders and "wait until next year" players. (Teams listed by seed.)
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Potential lottery picks: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Fr.; Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Jr.
Potential first-rounders: Devin Booker, SG, Fr.; Trey Lyles, F, Fr.; Dakari Johnson, C, So.
Potential second-rounders: Andrew Harrison, G, So.; Aaron Harrison, SG, So.; Alex Poythress, F, Jr.
Wait until next year: Tyler Ulis, PG, Fr.; Marcus Lee, PF, So.
It's no surprise to find that a team that is 34-0 and embarking on what could be a historic undefeated season is loaded with NBA prospects. However, I think many would be surprised to learn that Kentucky has just two surefire lottery picks.
Towns is strongly in the mix for the No. 1 pick in the draft despite averaging less than 10 PPG for Kentucky. He's big, mobile, can score both in the paint and facing the basket, and he's proved to be an elite shot-blocker and rebounder this season. Prospects like him don't come along often.
Cauley-Stein is still a work in progress offensively, but he's one of the most unique defensive prospects to come along in a while. It's not an exaggeration to say that Cauley-Stein, despite standing 7 feet tall, can completely shut down all five positions on the floor. There are 30 NBA coaches who want to sign up for that. He should fall somewhere between picks Nos. 6 and 12.
Two more freshmen, Booker and Lyles, are on the lottery bubble. Booker is widely regarded by scouts as the best 3-point shooter in the draft. Scouts are hoping he turns into a Klay Thompson-type player down the road. Lyles also has a chance to go in the late lottery, as a combo forward with a killer midrange jumper. They're both in the 12-to-20 range.
The rest of Kentucky's top eight players are all draftable, though none project to be stars in the pros. Johnson has the size and body to be a terrific backup center and could sneak into the first round. The Harrison twins would be much higher if their shot selection and shooting percentages were better. Andrew, especially, has played much better toward the end of the season, and another strong tournament could push him back into consideration for the first round. He has great size for his position and is a terrific defender. Poythress has been injured most of the season and faces a tough choice about whether to return to school for his senior year or head to the NBA draft without a guarantee he'll be drafted.
The two players who should be locks to stick around are Ulis and Lee. Ulis' high basketball IQ, speed and tenacity on defense make him attractive despite his small stature. He's a potential first-rounder in 2016. Lee has tons of NBA potential, but he's the rawest player of the group and a long way from contributing in the NBA.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Potential lottery pick: Kelly Oubre, G/F, Fr.
Potential first-rounder: Cliff Alexander, PF, Fr.
Potential second-rounders: Wayne Selden, G/F, So.; Perry Ellis, PF, Jr.; Jamari Traylor, PF, Jr.
Wait until next year: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Fr.; Brannen Greene, G/F, So
It's amazing that Kansas has accomplished what it's accomplished given the unusual dearth of elite NBA talent in Lawrence this season.
Oubre is the team's best NBA prospect, though he doesn't always look like it. When he's aggressive, he can be lethal both shooting the basketball and taking it to the hoop. And the best part is that Bill Self has turned him into a much more aggressive defender. There's major upside there, though he's still a work in progress. He should go somewhere between Nos. 6 and 12.
Alexander was projected as a top-10 pick before the season but has struggled to put it all together and is now benched while the NCAA investigates whether his family took illegal benefits. He has an NBA body, athleticism and can be a beast on the boards, but his offensive game and basketball IQ are both pretty slim. He's in the 20-to-35 range now and would benefit greatly from returning for another season if the NCAA doesn't rule him ineligible.
Selden also once was projected as a mid-first-round pick. However, he almost slid out of our Top 100 as the season went on. If he plays like he did in the last two games of the Big 12 tournament, then his stock will rise dramatically. NBA teams want to see him attacking the basket more and settling for his shaky jump shot less. As of now, however, he's probably a late second-rounder at best. Ditto for Ellis. His production has been solid all season but he lacks NBA size, athleticism and, overall, an elite NBA skill. He's the Jayhawks' best player, but his game just doesn't translate very well to the next level. Traylor might get a look because of his length, athleticism and defense, but offensively, he's still a work in progress.
Several of KU's bench players are interesting down-the-road prospects. Many scouts believe Mykhailiuk (who is 17 and ineligible for the 2015 draft) might be the best pro prospect on the team. But he plays limited minutes for the Jayhawks at the moment. Look for him to be a potential lottery pick in 2016. Greene's shooting stroke will keep him in the mix if he gets more minutes next season.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Potential first-rounders: Jerian Grant, PG, Sr.; Demetrius Jackson, PG, So.
Potential second-rounder: Zach Auguste, C, Jr.
Wait until next year: Bonzie Colson, F, Fr.
Jerian Grant continues to be one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft. He's got NBA size, athleticism, can get wherever he wants to on the floor, sees the court very well and plays in attack mode all the time. His age and his hot-and-cold jump shot hold him back a little, but after Emmanuel Mudiay and Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, he might be the best point guard prospect in the draft. He's in the 15-to-25 range on most NBA teams' draft boards. A big game versus Kentucky, assuming an Elite Eight matchup, would clearly solidify his spot.
Jackson is also having a terrific sophomore season. He too has great athleticism, toughness and floor leadership skills. His assists are down because he shares the floor with Grant, but most teams are convinced he'd be a very good NBA point guard in the Eric Bledsoe-type mold. He's been on the first-round bubble most of the season, but a breakout tournament could secure a place for him in the first round.
Auguste has the size and athleticism to intrigue scouts, but his lack of elite rebounding or shot-blocking skills keep him as more of a bubble second-rounder. He's going to be seriously sweating a potential Kentucky matchup in the Elite Eight.
Colson is a crazy-long (he has a 7-foot wingspan) forward who makes up for a lack of size and explosive leaping ability with basketball IQ, instincts, long arms, great hands, toughness and a nonstop motor. He's a unique prospect who is an exception to the rule, but scouts are intrigued and expect big things from him as a sophomore.
4. Maryland Terrapins
Potential first-rounder: Jake Layman, F, Jr.
Potential second-rounder: Dez Wells, SG, Sr.
Wait until next year: Melo Trimble, PG, Fr.
Layman actually has gotten some looks from NBA scouts in the first round this season. He's an NBA-caliber athlete who can score on the wing and reminds some scouts of Chandler Parsons. He's just been maddeningly inconsistent all season -- and pretty much throughout his entire college career. The talent is there, but can it show up on a nightly basis? He's in the 25-to-40 range.
Wells is intriguing. He's not a volume shooter from the perimeter, but he's shot 50 percent from 3 this season. He's very athletic, attacks the rim and can even play some point in a pinch. He's the type of guy who could get hot in the tournament and push his draft stock up into the high second round.
Trimble has been one of the best freshman point guards in the country. He shoots it well from 3, sees the floor and has been clutch. He should be a potential first-rounder down the road -- I just don't think it will be this year.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers
Potential second-rounder: Juwan Staten, PG, Sr.
Staten got some looks as a late first-round pick after his junior season, but he hasn't really capitalized on that draft buzz as a senior. His numbers are down across the board. His shooting percentage has plummeted. Ditto for his rebounds and assists. He's now on the second-round bubble.
6. Butler Bulldogs
Potential second-rounder: Kellen Dunham, SG, Jr.
With the success of the Splash Brothers in Golden State, NBA scouts are putting more value than ever on elite shooters, and Dunham is one of the three or four best shooters in college basketball. He's especially effective shooting off the dribble, though he can be a lethal spotting up as well. He's a potential second-round pick if he declares this year.
7. Wichita State Shockers
Potential first-rounder: Ron Baker, G, Jr.
Potential second-rounder: Fred VanVleet, PG, Jr.
Ever since a breakout NCAA tournament as a freshman, Baker has been sitting squarely on the first-round bubble. Many scouts believe he can make the transition to the point at the NBA level. Others question whether he has the quickness to make the leap. He shoots the ball really well, plays with a high basketball IQ and rarely turns the ball over. He's in the 25-to-40 range right now.
VanVleet is one of the best point guards in the country and another favorite of the analytics crowd. He's quick, sees the floor well and can shoot it from deep. However, he lacks elite size and length for his position. He's a second-rounder right now, though if he leads Wichita State deep into the tournament again, there are enough scouts who like him that he could sneak into the late first round.
8. Cincinnati Bearcats
Potential second-rounder: Octavius Ellis, F/C, Jr.
Defense is Ellis' calling card, as he's a great rebounder and rim-protector. He's got great size, he's a gifted athlete and, after having some off-the-court and on-the-court issues, he seems to have settled down. He's a bubble second-rounder right now, but size rises as we get closer to the draft, and he's intriguing as a potential first-round pick.
9. Purdue Boilermakers
Potential second-rounder: A.J. Hammons, C, Jr.
Wait until next year: Isaac Haas, C, Fr.; Vince Edwards, F, Fr.
Hammons is having essentially the same season he had as a freshman and sophomore, which is troubling. The talent is clearly there. So is the size and unique mobility for a big man. But where is the production? He's a very good shot-blocker but the rest of his game still lacks polish, keeping him firmly in the mid-second round.
Haas might be an even more interesting prospect down the road. He's huge and has played very well as a freshman. He's not ready either, but if Hammons jumps to the NBA, Haas will get more minutes and could push his way into the first round in 2016. Edwards is having an up-and-down freshman campaign, but the swingman can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and scouts expect him to make a big leap as a sophomore.
10. Indiana Hoosiers
Potential second-rounders: Troy Williams, F, So.; Yogi Ferrell, PG, Jr.
Wait until next year: James Blackmon Jr., SG, Fr.
Scouts want to fall in love with Williams. He's such an incredible athlete -- one of the best in the entire draft. That shows up the best on the defensive end where he can be a lockdown defender. But the big question is about his jump shot. In Williams' defense, it's been much better this season, and he's shot 41 percent from 3 (in limited attempts) and a very respectable 45 percent on 2-point jumpers. If he can get going, he has the potential to be one of the guys who makes a big leap on the draft board.
When Ferrell gets going, he can be one of the best point guards in the country. His turnovers have dropped this season, and his shooting percentages have nudged up across the board. While he has the requisite quickness to play in the NBA, his diminutive size hurts his draft stock. But they said the same thing about Shabazz Napier before last year's tournament, and look what happened to him: He put UConn on his back all the way to the title, and he ended up being picked by the Heat in the first round. Ferrell is going to need that kind of crazy run, however, to get looks in the first round of the draft. That first-round matchup against Wichita State and VanVleet will be terrific, as both are elite point guards facing the same draft-related questions about their size.
Blackmon was quietly one of the best freshmen in the country this season. He is a lights-out shooter who can score from anywhere on the floor. The question is whether Blackmon has the size or elite athleticism to be an NBA 2 guard.
11. Texas Longhorns
Potential lottery pick: Myles Turner, F/C, Fr.
Potential second-rounders: Isaiah Taylor, PG, So.; Jonathan Holmes, F, Sr.; Cameron Ridley, C, Jr.
Turner is maddeningly inconsistent. When he's good, he looks like a top-five pick; he's an athletic, mobile big man who can protect the rim, rebound, run the floor and knock down 3s. When he's bad, he just disappears, hanging out in the corners waiting for someone to pass him the ball. Right now NBA scouts are banking on the good Turner. They think he's been misused at Texas and will immediately be better in the pros. The detractors question his toughness, motor and his awkward gait. He's one of the more polarizing players in the draft but should go in the 6-to-12 range.
Taylor was considered a potential first-rounder coming into the season, but an early injury derailed him and he (and the Longhorns) never quite recovered. He's one of the quickest point guards in the draft and can score and facilitate. A big tournament would immediately put him back into the conversation as a first-round pick.
Ridley was once a top-10 high school recruit who just never seems to have turned the corner. He's big and physical but plays below the rim and doesn't do enough to warrant more than second-round consideration right now. Holmes started the season strong but struggled in Big 12 play and lost virtually all of his draft momentum. He'll likely be playing pro ball in Europe or the D-League.
12. Buffalo Bulls
No current NBA prospects
13. Valparaiso Crusaders
No current NBA prospects
14. Northeastern Huskies
No current NBA prospects
15. New Mexico State Aggies
No current NBA prospects
16. Manhattan Jaspers/Hampton Pirates
No current NBA prospects
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"When I die I want the Knicks/Jets to carry my casket so they can let me down one last time"
NY Knicks | NY Jets | NY Yankees
"When I die I want the Knicks/Jets to carry my casket so they can let me down one last time"
With the 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket officially set, we take a look at how the first weekend is shaping up from a NBA Draft perspective. Who are the prospects and what will NBA teams be looking for in each pod?
Note: The players listed next to each team are those appearing in our current rankings of the Top-100 prospects for the 2015 Draft.
A handy schedule, organized on a grid to help you organize your TV watching schedule.
Full Bracket, TV Guide and Tip Times
Dayton (Tuesday 3/17 and Wednesday 3/18
Tuesday 3/17, 6:40 PM - truTV
#11 Dayton Dyshawn Pierre, Jordan Sibert
#11 Boise State Derrick Marks, James Webb
Tuesday 3/17, 9:10 PM - truTV
Analysis: Fun matchup between a Boise State team who had a number of prospects emerge this season as they flew under the radar against a Dayton squad with many returnees from last seasons' magical run. Both of these teams weathered significant personnel losses as Boise State lost Anthony Drmic early in the year and Dayton has played small the entire season after two of their big men were dismisses midseason.
This will be a great test to see how James Webb, an extremely athletic 42% 3-point shooting 6'9 sophomore whose potential as a Wilson Chandler-esqe 3'n'D small forward has flown under the radar playing in the Mountain West, stacks up against Pierre and Sibert who man the forward spots for the Flyers. If will be interesting to see if Derrick Marks can get rolling against Dayton's scrappy backcourt as he looks to end his career on a high note, after tallying off somewhat the past few weeks. Both Sibert and Pierre have seen their outside shooting numbers fall off this season, which has tempered much of the enthusiasm around their pro outlook.
#16 North Florida
#16 Robert Morris
Wednesday 3/18, 6:40 PM - truTV
#11 BYU Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth
#11 Mississippi Jarvis Summers, Sebastian Saiz
Wednesday 3/18, 9:10 PM - truTV
Analysis: BYU's fast paced offense is always worth watching. Kyle Collinsworth has been a triple-double machine for the Cougars, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against a very good high major half court defense. The 23-year old Collinsworth does everything except shoot effectively from the perimeter (29% 2P%), which is a major flaw in today's hyper 3-point shooting landscape of the NBA. Ole Miss' average defense could help him have a good outing.
Jarvis Summers, an athletic combo guard who distributes very effectively at his size, has regressed badly offensively after a breakout season, seeing his TS% fall from a stellar 60% to a mediocre 46%. He'll get a chance to bounce back on a national stage against the high-scoring, but underwhelming physically Tyler Haws, who would be a coveted NBA prospect if he shared Summers' enviable tools.
Charlotte (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#1 Duke #1 Jahlil Okafor, #9 Justise Winslow, #27 Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Grayson Allen
#16 North Florida/Robert Morris See First Four Above
Friday 3/20, 7:10 PM - CBS
#8 San Diego State Winston Shepard, Malik Pope, Dwayne Polee, Angelo Chol
#9 St. John's #87 Chris Obekpa (suspended), Sir'Dominic Pointer, D'Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan
Friday 3/20, 9:40 PM - CBS
Analysis: San Diego State's aggressive man to man defense facing off with St. John's undersized and positionless frontcourt inside should make for a fun matchup. Obekpa's untimely suspension will mean that St. John's will have to give minutes to the untested duo of Amar Alibegovic and Joey Delarosa. Sir'Dominic Pointer has helped himself considerably this season with his terrific athleticism, intensity and versatility, making plays all over the court. He sees most of his minutes at the power forward position despite standing 6-5, but his lack of perimeter shooting ability (he's only 2/23 for 3 on the season) has hampered his draft stock from taking off. Similar things can be said for San Diego State's Winston Shepard, who is much taller, but far less productive and reliable.
SDSU freshman Malik Pope has the size, tools and talent to develop into an intriguing draft prospect down the road, as a Quincy Miller-esqe 6-10 sweet-shooting small forward, but currently lacks much in the way of polish, experience or awareness.
Portland (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#5 Utah #20 Jakob Poeltl, #30 Delon Wright, Brekkott Chapman
#12 Stephen F. Austin
Thursday 3/19, 7:27 PM - truTV
#4 Georgetown #90 Joshua Smith, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Paul White, L.J. Peak, Isaac Copeland
#13 Eastern Washington Tyler Harvey
Thursday 3/19, 9:57 PM - truTV
Analysis: Some very intriguing matchups right away in San Diego, with one of low major basketball's truly elite scorers Tyler Harvey and Stephen F. Austin's tremendously efficient offensive attack facing off against quality high major opponents in Utah and Georgetown.
Tyler Harvey is one of the best shooter-scorers you'll find, an absolutely lights out marksman who is liable to pull-up off the dribble from half-court if given even the slightest glimmer of daylight. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, and he isn't blessed with great size, but he is a better athlete and a more versatile shot-creator than most of the shoot-first gunners we see coming out of the low-major ranks. With a strong Tournament showing, he could very well put himself on the NBA Draft radar in a serious way, if he wasn't there already.
The second round promises to be intriguing if the favorites get the job done as a Joshua Smith-Jakob Poeltl matchup would be a very interesting contrast in styles.
Louisville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#6 Southern Methodist Yanick Moreira, Markus Kennedy, Ben Moore
#11 UCLA #14 Kevon Looney, #59 Norman Powell, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton, Thomas Welsh
Thursday 3/19, 3:10 PM - truTV
#3 Iowa State #95 Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Dustin Hogue, Jameel McKay
Thursday 3/19, 12:40 PM - truTV
Analysis: UCLA sneaking into the NCAA Tournament will give NBA scouts a chance to see Kevon Looney face off with one of the nation's most underrated frontcourt pairings. Moreira and Kennedy may not be elite NBA prospects, but they've been terrific for Larry Brown's Mustangs this season and will be a real test of UCLA's highly regarded freshman. Looney's production has dropped off significantly in Pac-12 action, to the point that his status as a sure-fire lottery pick is very much in question at this stage. A strong Tournament showing could help him erase the negative momentum he's suffered with his draft stock as of late.
Regardless of who emerges from the UCLA-SMU scrum, a challenging matchup is likely in the form of Iowa State. While Georges Niang gets most of the accolades, Monte Morris and Jameel McKay have emerged as their most likely NBA prospects over the course of the Big 12. Both are likely a year away from testing that theory, but have much to gain with a strong NCAA Tournament showing. Morris is one of college basketball's best playmakers, while McKay is a long-armed athletic role-player who does a little bit of everything.
Seattle (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#2 Gonzaga #18 Domantas Sabonis, Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer, Byron Wesley, Kevin Pangos, Josh Perkins
#15 North Dakota State
Friday 3/20, 9:50 PM - TNT
#7 Iowa #85 Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Gabe Olaseni, Adam Woodbury
Friday 3/20, 7:20 PM - TNT
Analysis: Iowa senior Aaron White has always been one of the most efficient offensive players in college basketball, doing yeoman's work in transition and finishing explosively around the basket off lobs. But he's started to expand his game more frequently out to the perimeter as of late, making nine 3-pointers in the past six games, which is much needed considering his average frame standing 6-9. He'll likely never be considered a great defender with that body type, but his ability to make shots makes him far more intriguing considering how athletic he is, so continuing to do so for as long as he can will help him make a late push towards possibly getting drafted. He's got the right matchups to do so against Davidson and then likely Gonzaga should both teams advance.
Omaha (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#1 Wisconsin #10 Frank Kaminsky, #22 Sam Dekker, #44 Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Duje Dukan
#16 Coastal Carolina
Friday 3/20, 9:20 PM - TBS
#8 Oregon Joseph Young, Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell
#9 Oklahoma State LeBryan Nash, Michael Cobbins
Friday 3/20, 6:50 PM - TBS
Analysis: Lebryan Nash went from top-10 recruit to persona non grata over the course of four years at Oklahoma State, never quite developing the requisite perimeter skill-set or all-around game NBA teams look for at the small forward position. He has one last chance to impress with a strong showing against Oregon, and then a monster matchup against Wisconsin should his team advance.
Jacksonville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#5 Arkansas #16 Bobby Portis, #60 Michael Qualls, Moses Kingsley, Rashad Madden
Thursday 3/19, 9:50 PM - TNT
#4 North Carolina #39 Kennedy Meeks, #47 Justin Jackson, #50 Brice Johnson, #55 J.P. Tokoto, #63 Marcus Paige, Theo Pinson, Isaiah Hicks, Joel Berry
#13 Harvard Siyani Chambers, Wesley Saunders
Thursday 3/19, 7:20 PM - TNT
Analysis: Should the favorites emerge in the Round of 64, we could see one of the most entertaining matchups of the opening weekend between Arkansas and North Carolina, both featuring some extremely interesting draft prospects who could use a boost to their stock. Bobby Portis will be tested in a major way with Kennedy Meeks, and while he's made a living as one of the most efficient post-up threats in college basketball, his ability to take him (and Joel James) to the perimeter will be a huge key to this up-tempo contest.
First, the athletic and versatile Wesley Saunders will have a chance to show that his production at the Ivy League level can translate against better competition when he goes up against J.P. Tokoto and Justin Jackson. Saunders has never needed to incorporate a 3-point shot into his game in a major way to find production for Harvard, only making 47 3-pointers in 116 career games, and NBA scouts will want to see how he looks against more athletic players.
Portland (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#2 Arizona #5 Stanley Johnson, #23 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, #68 Kaleb Tarczewski, #100 Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, T.J. McConnell, Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright
#15 Texas Southern Chris Thomas
Thursday 3/19, 2:10 PM - TNT
#7 Virginia Commonwealth Treveon Graham, Terry Larrier
#10 Ohio State #4 D'Angelo Russell, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Marc Loving
Thursday 3/19, 4:40 PM - TNT
Analysis: Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the first round from a draft prospective will pit D'Angelo Russell against VCU's “havoc” defense. Given that he frequently brings the ball up for the floor for the Buckeyes, how will the freshman respond to the ball pressure he'll face against the Rams? Russell sports a laid-back and often methodical style of play, so it will be fascinating to see how he reacts when his mettle is tested in scrambled settings.
Whether it's the Buckeyes or the Rams who advance, they'll likely face a stacked Arizona team. NBA scouts will likely be rooting for the Buckeyes to advance to the round of 32 as the potential matchup between Johnson with Russell would be a tremendous chance for them to see two potential top-5 picks on the floor at the same time. Arizona would likely sic Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on Russell for extended stretches, which would be arguably the toughest test the young freshman has seen in his career to date. Many questions have arisen the past few months about Russell's average athleticism and how his game will translate against bigger and more physically gifted competition, so all NBA eyeballs will be on Portland should this matchup materialize.
Jacksonville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#3 Baylor #80 Ricardo Gathers, Taurean Prince, Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley
#14 Georgia State #24 R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow, Kevin Ware
Thursday 3/19, 1:40 PM - TBS
#6 Xavier Jalen Reynolds, Trevon Bluiett
#11Mississippi/BYU See First Four Above
Thursday 3/19, 4:10 PM - TBS
Analysis: R.J Hunter will get a chance to bounce back from a dismal 3-15 shooting performance in the Sun Belt championship game against Baylor's zone. Hunter is shooting a career worst 30% from beyond the arc this season as opposing teams have keyed in on him. Baylor's zone has been more active and aggressive than it has been in recent seasons when the Bears have had more size and they won't make things easy for the Georgia State standout. Given that the Panthers often play small, Baylor's Ricardo Gathers could have a field day on the offensive glass where he's been nothing short of tremendous this season. Baylor's Taurean Prince has quietly strung together a tremendous season, and a strong Tournament showing in March could help him gain recognition for his efforts as a 6-7 sweet-shooting role-player who does a little bit of everything, despite not being incredibly gifted athletically.
Pittsburgh(Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#1 Villanova Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston, Daniel Ochefu, Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart
Thursday 3/19, 6:50 PM - TBS
#8 North Carolina State Anthony Barber, Trevor Lacey, Beejay Anya, Abdul Malik-Abu
#9 LSU #28 Jarell Martin, #79 Jordan Mickey
Thursday 3/19, 9:20 PM - TBS
Analysis: This season has been a roller coaster ride for N.C. State, but they've done a consistently stellar job protecting the rim on the defensive end. That will provide a terrific litmus test for Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, who were both tabbed All-SEC 1st team members earlier this month. Martin has been a breakout star of sorts, and it will be interesting to see how effectively he's able to score inside against the Wolfpack's length, size, and strength inside.
Villanova may not have any elite prospects this season, but Jay Wright's squad won't be an easy out as they're one of the most prolific perimeter scoring teams in all of college basketball.
Seattle (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#5 Northern Iowa Seth Tuttle
#12 Wyoming Larry Nance
Friday 3/20, 1:40 PM - TBS
#4 Louisville #18 Montrezl Harrell, #40 Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku
#13 UC Irvine Mamadou Ndiaye, Luke Nelson
Friday 3/20, 4:10 PM - TBS
Analysis: Montrezl Harrell is a the headliner in one of the weaker regions for NBA prospects. It is always interesting to see how teams matchup with the 7'6 Mamdou Ndiaye, who Harrell will see in the first round before he runs into either Larry Nance or Seth Tuttle in the second round. Louisville has struggled at times offensively in the absence of Chris Jones, but their defense could be enough to earn them a spot in the Sweet 16.
Playing against Louisville would be a great chance for Seth Tuttle to show that his terrific offensive skill-level and feel for the game can translate against better competition than he's faced in the Missouri Valley Conference. Tuttle is an extremely versatile player, but his average frame, athleticism and defensive prowess has made it difficult for him to gain serious momentum as a draft prospect.
After an injury plagued season Mamadou Ndiaye could very well look to jump to the NBA if he can find a way to have a strong outing against Louisville. Ndiaye is one of the biggest and longest human beings on this planet, and his presence alone inside the paint will pose a serious challenge for Harrell and company to score efficiently. Ndiaye's mobility, conditioning and ability to step away from the paint will be challenged by Rick Pitino's group, and the results should be fascinating to watch.
Charlotte (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#2 Virginia #25 Justin Anderson, #75 Mike Tobey, Malcolm Brogdon
Friday 3/20, 3:10 PM - truTV
#7 Michigan State #97 Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine
Friday 3/20, 12:40 PM - truTV
Analysis: A Virginia-Michigan State matchup in the Round of 32 would be one of the most anticipated of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, pitting two of the top coaches in the game against each other in a slow and physical affair.
NBA scouts will be keeping an eye on the health of Justin Anderson in anticipation of a potentially interesting round of 32 matchup between the battered swingman and Denzel Valentine, who nearly willed Michigan State to a win in the Big Ten Tournament Championship over Wisconsin. Anderson was obviously limited by the broken left pinky on his shooting hand during Virginia's short ACC Tournament stint, and will want to avoid a prolonged slump in order to not damage his stock as well as his team's chances of making the Final Four.
Columbus (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#3 Oklahoma #52 Buddy Hield, TaShawn Thomas
Friday 3/20, 7:27 PM - truTV
#6 Providence #17 Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris
#11 Boise State/Dayton See First Four Above
Friday 3/20, 9:57 PM - truTV
Analysis: Whomever comes out of the Dayton/Boise State matchup will make for a solid guard matchup for Kris Dunn. The 6'4 point guard has ranked among the most prolific passers in the country this season and has solidified himself as one of the top point guards in the country after missing most of last season. A potential Round of 32 meeting with Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners' Transition-heavy offense would give Dunn another chance to leave a strong final impression on scouts as he looks to propel himself into lottery consideration.
Hield, who is reportedly strongly considering declaring for the draft, will want to go out on a good note, which means not getting bounced out of the tournament in the first weekend.
Louisville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#1 Kentucky #2 Karl Towns, #7 Willie Cauley-Stein, #15 Devin Booker, #26 Trey Lyles, #38 Dakari Johnson, #61 Andrew Harrison, #88 Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee, Aaron Harrison,
#16 Manhattan/Hampton See First Four Above
Thursday 3/19, 9:40 PM - CBS
#8 Cincinnati Gary Clark, Octavius Ellis
#9 Purdue #57 A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards
Thursday 3/19, 7:10 PM - CBS
Analysis: There will be no shortage of scouts following Kentucky throughout the NCAA Tournament, which should come as no surprise considering the Wildcats' roster includes no fewer than 10 players in our various class rankings, and 7 players in our top-100.
They could be in for a real treat if Purdue is able to overcome Cincinnati's stifling defense as A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas would provide one of the best measuring sticks for Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein that can be found in the NCAA this season. Purdue is one of the few teams in the country that can match Kentucky's size at the center position.
Hammons in particular has seen somewhat of a resurgence in his draft stock as of late behind some long-anticipated inspired play. The 7-footer is blessed with great length, offensive instincts and shot-blocking timing, but too often looked motivationally challenged in his first few seasons at Purdue. Turning 23 this summer, now is the time to show that he is serious about stating his case as a draft prospect, and there's no better team to do it against than Kentucky. First, Purdue will have to get by Cincinnati, though.
Columbus (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#5 West Virginia #92 Juwan Staten, Devin Williams
Friday 3/20, 2:10 PM - TNT
#4 Maryland #34 Jake Layman, #62 Melo Trimble, Dez Wells
#13 Valparaiso Alec Peters
Friday 3/20, 4:10 PM - TNT
Analysis: A banged up Juwan Staten could mean trouble for West Virginia who relies heavily on his ability to pressure the ball and create off the dribble. The 5'11 point guard has taken the long road into our top-100. The 65th ranked player in the 2010 RSCI, the Dayton native made an immediate impact at his home town school as a freshman before transferring to West Virginia. After struggling as a sophomore coming off his redshirt year Staten exploded as a junior averaging 18.1 points per-game. Though his scoring numbers are down this year, his game has matured by leaps and bounds from his freshman year and his health is critical to the Mountaineers.
The Jake Layman – Alec Peters matchup in the first game between Maryland and Valpo should be very interesting, as Peters is one of the most skilled and efficient perimeter oriented big men in the college game these days. Layman is much more gifted physically, but is also a talented and versatile power forward, which should provide for an intriguing contrast of styles.
Should both West Virginia and Maryland advance, their matchup Sunday will be an interesting one as breakout freshman Melo Trimble will look to weather the storm that is West Virginia's full court press.
Omaha (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)
#2 Kansas #12 Kelly Oubre, #31 Cliff Alexander, #78 Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Brannen Greene, Landen Lucas, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Jamari Traylor
#15 New Mexico State Pascal Siakam
Friday 3/20, 12:15 PM - CBS
#7 Wichita State #51 Ron Baker, #84 Fred VanVleet,
#10 Indiana #42 Yogi Ferrell, #48 Troy Williams, James Blackmon, Robert Johnson, Hanner Perea
Friday 3/20, 2:45 PM - CBS
Analysis: The early games in Omaha will have a fair amount of draft intrigue. The Indiana/Wichita State matchup will feature three guards in our top-100, as Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker take on Yogi Farrell in what should be one of the second day's more entertaining matchups. Wichita always comes tremendously prepared in the postseason and it will be interesting to see how they look to pick apart Indiana's zone/man switching defense.
Kansas will be an obvious attraction as well with their litany of young players. Kelly Oubre has rallied from a slow start over the last few months, but his he scored just 3 points in 17 minutes in Kansas's disappointing loss to Iowa State in the conference tournament finals. A couple of strong performances in the NCAA Tournament would be a nice cap to what to what has been an otherwise inconsistent year for the star freshman.
Wichita State will not be lacking for motivation playing against their in-state rivals, who have consistently refused to schedule them over the years.
Pittsburgh (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)
#3 Notre Dame #13 Jerian Grant, #43 Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton, Zach Auguste, Bonzie Colson
Thursday 3/19, 12:15 PM - CBS
#6 Butler Kellen Dunham
#11 Texas #11 Myles Turner, #81 Jonathan Holmes, #83 Isaiah Taylor, Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh
Thursday 3/19, 2:45 PM - CBS
Analysis: Fresh off a run to the ACC Championship game, Notre Dame is faced with a potentially intriguing third round match up with Texas should the Longhorns manage to dispatch Butler and rebound from their recent struggles. A battle between Texas's big men and Notre Dame's guard heavy attack would be fascinating should they advance. Regardless, everyone will want to see how Myles Turner handles himself in what could be his last game at the college level.
Irish senior Jerian Grant has had a magical season and will obviously have a ton to play for with this being his last run at the NCAA Tournament. Texas would provide a nice showcase for him to match up against with their plethora of shot-blockers on the interior, as well as the extremely athletic Isaiah Taylor on the perimeter. But first, Texas will need to get past a very well coached and scrappy Butler team.