It's very late in Kansas City as I put the finishing touches on today's piece. As soon as I send this off, I'm going to be slumping over on the coach with Kevin Harlan's voice reverberating through my head. The first day of the NCAA was interesting, if not overly dramatic. The upshot of a paucity of upsets is that the matchups down the road will be that much more compelling.
I'm going to cut quick to Friday's viewer's guide. First, though, a bit of housekeeping that if it's not attended to, those Harlan-plagued dreams may not ever happen. I've typed a lot of player comments over the last few days. For the most part, I'm pretty comfortable with the pool of players I've decided to write about. There's one exception, which wasn't an oversight but a flat-out omission. For the Arizona/West Virginia game, I listed Joe Alexander of the Mountaineers but no one from the Wildcats. Does that mean I think Arizona is devoid of NBA prospects? Nah, I just left them out, even though I did writeups of four players. Here they are:
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona Already an accomplished playmaker, the freshman has good size for an NBA point guard. He shoots the ball well from deep and also has the ability to get to the line. He's a top-10 pick when he comes out.
Chase Budinger, Arizona With prototypical size for an NBA two-guard, Budinger is a highly-regarded prospect who can fill it up when gets going. At this point, however, he seems to be pretty one-dimensional and needs to add a great deal of muscle.
Jordan Hill, Arizona With a 61+ eFG%, Hill usually converts his opportunities. A 6'9" power forward with an impressive physical package, Hill's production doesn't quite match his attributes.
Jawann McClellan, Arizona A solid senior, McClellan doesn't really have any standout traits that mark him as an NBA shooting guard.
I also want to add that I've found the best part of this exercise this week has been the reader feedback I've received. I've tried to be open about the fact that this week is a scouting trip for me (from my attic, where I watch TV). The e-mails I've gotten have helped me identify new players to follow and have sharpened my observations of players I had already identified. Thanks for that, folks, and keep the comments coming.
There, now I can pass out.
All through March's college basketball fiesta, I'll be viewing the NCAA, NIT and CBI tournaments through the eyes of an NBA fan. In particular, I'll be watching those players who could end up in this year's draft. My pool of prospects come from mining the Top 100 lists of several Web outlets, so if you think someone is missing or want to chime in with observations of your own, drop me a line. I will make an effort to add players that catch my eye as the postseason unfolds, and will alter my assessments based on the observational evidence that I collect.
Tennessee (29-4) vs. American (21-11), 12:15 p.m.
Chris Lofton, Tennessee A fine shooter and scorer, Lofton's percentages were actually down in his senior season. Not terribly physical and doesn't create opportunities for others. Since he's 6'2", that probably means he won't get drafted. But he could fill a similar role to Louis Williams of the 76ers if his ability to get his shot translates.
Tyler Smith, Tennessee Smith displays a full package of skills in a prototypical swingman's body, though he could stand to add a few pounds. He's an efficient midrange scorer, gets into the lane and is a good rebounder for his size. A sophomore, he's a tremendous athlete and if he develops his three-point shot, he could be a solid lottery pick. Heck, he may be one anyway.
Gonzaga (25-7) vs. Davidson (26-6), 12:25 p.m.
Austin Daye, Gonzaga Daye is a rail-thin 6'10", 190 lb. freshman with a lot of potential. He's a good shot blocker and defensive rebounder and also gets to the foul line. He's got a nice stroke and hits about one three-pointer a game. He needs to become much stronger and also must continue to work on his outside shot as he doesn't have the type of frame or game to play in the interior as a pro. Needs seasoning but Daye is a must-watch prospect.
Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga A 6'11" banger that has battled health and offcourt problems. He has a nice inside-outside combination of skills offensively but needs to become more polished and consistent.
Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga Has made the transformation from a scoring two-guard to a drive-and-dish point guard. He's a good defender but his outside shot is suspect. Needs to cut down on turnovers. Has improved as a collegian and needs to continue to do so next season as a senior.
Stephen Curry, Davidson The son of former NBA designated shooter Dell Curry, Stephen is one of the nation's most exciting players and prolific scorers. Despite posting the 18th-highest usage rate in the land, his eFG% this season was 60.9. That's a lethal combination. Of course, he did it against less than top-notch competition and is only 6'1" -- not the kind of shooting guard you want to construct your NBA roster around. His shooting ability should land him a role at the next level. He could be used in a role similar to the way Philadelphia uses Louis Williams. Or if his abilities really translate to the pros, he could have a larger role playing alongside a bigger point guard, in the same way Golden State pairs Baron Davis with Monta Ellis.
Miami (22-10) vs. Saint Mary's, Calif. (25-6), 12:30 p.m.
Drake (28-4) vs. Western Kentucky (27-6), 12:30 p.m.
Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky A 6'5" shooting guard, Lee is a long-range gunner with no conscience on offense. Rest of his game and physical attributes are pedestrian but his shooting ability could get him a pro opportunity.
Butler (29-3) vs. South Alabama (26-6), 2:45 p.m.
Georgetown (27-5) vs. Maryland-Baltimore County (24-8), 2:55 p.m.
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown Waddya know, it's a defensively-superior Georgetown seven-footer. Every draft should have one of these. Hibbert is understandably best known for his defensive prowess and shot-blocking. But his offensive game has improved in each of his four seasons with the Hoyas. He even hit all three of his three-point attempts this year--the only three attempts of his career. His soft touch should allow his offensive repertoire to continue to expand at the next level. Current prospect lists slot him in the mid- to late-first round. That seems too low but what holds him back is his lack of foot speed.
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown Still more potential than production, the 6'8" sophomore nevertheless displays a solid range of skills on both ends of the floor. He's probably more advanced defensively at this point as his shot is a little inconsistent. Has definite upside but he needs to stay put for another year.
Texas (28-6) vs. Austin Peay (24-10), 3:00 p.m.
DJ Augustin, Texas A 6'0" pure point guard, Augustin is a dynamic ballhandler and distributor. He's also better shooter than he's often given credit for and draws a lot of fouls by getting into the lane. Athletically, he's not really a standout, which could undermine his chances to translate his considerable skills to the next level.
Damion James, Texas James ventured out to the perimeter more often as a sophomore but needs to get better in that regard to play in the NBA as he's only 6'7" He also happens to be one of the nation's best rebounders, especially among players his size. If he makes it as a pro, it'll be because of his defense.
Connecticut (24-8) vs. San Diego (21-13), 3:00 p.m.
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut Productive and solid as a collegian, the 6'7" interior player has the muscle but not the height to make it work at the next level.
AJ Price, Connecticut The 6'2" sophomore (with one redshirt season) has turned into one of the better playmakers in the country. Not a great shooter, he works hard on defense and uses strength to compensate for a minor lack of quickness to get into the lane. His description harkens back to one-time Huskie Khalid El-Amin.
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut A 7'3" sophomore, Thabeet is a likely lottery pick when he opts to turn pro. Has good athleticism, is active on the offensive glass and gets to the foul line as well as anyone in the country. He doesn't have much of a post game but converts the chances he gets. A premier shot blocker, he'll make his biggest impact on the NBA on the defensive end.
North Carolina (32-2) vs. Coppin State-Mount State Mary's, Md. winner, 7:10 p.m.
Wayne Ellington, North Carolina Ellington is the perfect spot-up shooter to play alongside a top playmaker in Ty Lawson and interior player in Tyler Hansbrough. He's an efficient shooter but has turned out to be sort of one-dimensional. He doesn't attack the basket nor does he create much offense for his teammates. Defensively, he's just adequate. A little undersized for his position, any hopes of being a designated shooter in the pros will depend on his ability to hit the NBA three-pointer.
Danny Green, North Carolina Green made a lot of strides as a junior but is still a longshot pro prospect. A swingman at the college level, he won't be able to play forward in the NBA. He's an efficient shooter at Carolina but not particularly adept at getting his own shot or getting to the foul line. Defensively, he has nice steal and block rates and displays good instincts.
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina Possibly the most high-profile player in the NCAA, Hansbrough's father went to Mizzou and his failure to follow in dad's footsteps is the stuff of Greek tragedy. Hansbrough finished 14th nationally in Pomeroy's offensive rating, with his best trait being an ability to get to the foul line. Hansbrough plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor and you can't argue with the production he's had playing against pretty good competition. Still, he's not considered an elite prospect because of limited athleticism. So what kind of pro will he make? He always makes me think of Shane Battier. Remember, Battier played on the block as a collegian before becoming a three-point shooting/perimeter defending glue player as a pro. I could see Hansbrough developing a face-up game and following a similar path.
Ty Lawson, North Carolina If only he were taller...the 5'11" sophomore had some injury woes this season. He was 35th in the NCAA in assist percentage and posted an excellent steal rate. He makes the Carolina engine hum, picking spots to get his own shot and getting to the line when he needs to. Why can't he be another Chris Paul? The answer lies in usage rate and turnover percentage.
Oklahoma (22-11) vs. Saint Joseph's (21-12), 7:10 p.m.
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma Does everything you want an interior player to do. He shoots at a high percentage, is a beast of a rebounder on both ends of the floor, draws scores of fouls, is an underrated passer and is solid on the defensive end. He does all of this in a 6'10", 243 pound body that just turned 19 last week. He's extremely athletic and, on top of everything, has the obligatory smarts of a coach's son. Sounds like a high lottery pick to me.
Longar Longar, Oklahoma Longar has the type of build that inspires a lot of patience. But the more he's been asked to do, the more inefficient he has gotten. That's naturally to an extent, but not the degree of Longar. A fringe prospect.
Pat Calathes, Saint Joseph's The older brother of Florida point guard Nick Calathes, one of the nation's finest freshmen. Pat is a 6'10" perimeter player, which will certainly get him a look from NBA scouts. He displays a good stroke from the outside and draws a fair number of fouls. He's also a pretty good passer.
Vanderbilt (26-7) vs. Siena (22-10), 7:20 p.m.
Shan Foster, Vanderbilt Foster emerged as one of the NCAA's premier offensive players (4th in offensive rating) and shooters (4th in eFG%) as a senior. He pretty much hangs around the perimeter. Good thing, too, as he shot 47.3 percent on three-pointers. Foster has good athleticism but the one-dimensional nature of his game means he'll have to prove he can hit the NBA three-pointer to have a chance to stick there.
Andrew Ogilvy, Vanderbilt Of all the outstanding freshman this season, Oglivy is perhaps the one that gets lost the shuffle. Nevertheless, the 6'11" Australian was a key component of the Commodores' outstanding season. He has solid metrics across the board with an ability to draw fouls being his standout trait. Currently just a post-up player, a lack of strength means he'll have to add muscle and develop a midrange jumper to make an impact in the NBA.
Mississippi State (22-10) vs. Oregon (18-13), 7:25 p.m.
Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State Undersized for his position, Gordon fills up all the columns of a box score. But he's not an efficient shooter and turns the ball over too much. The 6'4" junior lefty has a usage rate of nearly 30 and because of that ability to create offense, you can't count him out as a prospect.
Charles Rhodes, Mississippi State The 6'8" senior has improved steadily during his four years with the Bulldogs but is a longshot prospect at best.
Malik Hairston, Oregon Hairston is a solidly built swing guy with a terrific scoring package. He gets his own shot, shoots with an eFG% on the good side of 60 and draws his share of fouls. He's active on the defensive end but a little slow afoot. A senior, Hairston isn't high on many prospect lists but he's a sleeper.
Maarty Leunen, Oregon A 6'9" faceup senior, Leunen has blossomed this season, finishing second in the nation in offensive rating to Cal's Ryan Anderson. His eFG% was fifth, which will happen when you shoot over 50 percent on three-pointers. He's a decent passer but shooting is definitely his calling card. If Leunen proves he can get that high-percentage shot with regularity against the guys who play for pay, you never know. Teams are always looking for shooters.
Bryce Taylor, Oregon The highest ranked prospect of the Ducks' fine trio of seniors, Taylor's numbers don't scream "NBA!" His usage rate is low, his assist percentage is subpar, he doesn't get to the line and his size is nothing special. The son of former NBA point guard Brian Taylor.
Indiana (25-7) vs. Arkansas (22-11), 9:40 p.m.
Sonny Weems, Arkansas Physically, he reminds of former Razorback Ronnie Brewer but this 6'6" senior is much more of a perimeter player. Has athleticism to defend in the NBA but really needs to improve playmaking skills.
Eric Gordon, Indiana He's a bit short for an NBA off-guard but makes up for it with explosive athleticism. He's got a nice outside touch but also does a great job using his physical attributes to get past defenders and draw fouls. He needs to become a better decision maker and to add consistency to his outside shot. Gordon's upside is extremely high and he'll be a lottery pick should he choose to come out after his freshman season. Ordinarily, I'd say he needs to stay another year to polish up his game but the Hoosiers' uncertain coaching situation may make that a difficult choice.
DJ White, Indiana White has had his best college season as a senior. He's an efficient scorer, good rebounder and decent shot blocker. Plays a physical game and gets to the line. If he were really 6'9", he'd be candidate to go in the second round.
Louisville (24-8) vs. Boise State (25-8), 9:40 p.m.
Earl Clark, Louisville A long, lean swing forward, Clark has tried to improve his perimeter game with mixed results. He's an inefficient shooter and struggles from three-point land but excels at getting to the foul line. He's a solid rebounder and very active defensively. His much ballyhooed passing skills have yet to manifest themselves in the form of assists. He's a work in progress with exceptional upside.
David Padgett, Louisville Padgett is a former transfer from Kansas who hit the game-winning shot in the last game at Mizzou's old arena. For that, he probably should be banned from the pro game. Padgett is a skilled and extremely efficient (67.5 eFG%) inside scorer. He's not a great rebounder or defender, however. Padgett is already 23 years old and has struggled through injury woes. He probably doesn't have the range of skills or the athleticism to play at the next level.
Juan Palacios, Louisville Palacios' playing time and production have slipped in his senior season. A 6'8" banger, he's probably dropped off of any draft lists that he was on.
Terrence Williams, Louisville Williams is an athletic 6'6" (maybe) swing man with an excellent floor game and a questionable outside shot. He only hit 41.2 percent from the field but shoots so many threes that his eFG% of 48.4 is not quite so unsightly. A fantastic leaper and athlete, Williams will not reach his ceiling unless he becomes more aggressive at taking the ball to the basket. Fundamentally, he's improved but still has a long way to go, as evidenced by his 56 percent mark from the foul line. Williams would do well to hone decision making during his senior season next year.
Clemson (24-9) vs. Villanova (20-12), 9:50 p.m.
James Mays, Clemson A pedestrian banger whose production has never quite matched his tools. A senior, he has the raw ability to be a solid defender at the next level and could draw second-round interest for that reason.
K.C. Rivers, Clemson A sleeper off-guard prospect that has steadily improved in his three years with the Tigers. Has a nice outside stroke and good length and quickness on the defensive end. Has nice across-the-board metrics with the exception of his foul-drawing rate. Has excelled as of late in some high-profile games so may start moving up draft lists if he has a big NCAA tournament.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova Reynolds in an undersized combo guard, a description he shares with backcourt mate Corey Fisher. Reynolds is more of a scorer than a shooter. He's not a great athlete, either. Doesn't really add up to an NBA resume.
Memphis (33-1) vs. Texas-Arlington (21-11), 9:55 p.m.
Joey Dorsey, Memphis Dorsey, a senior, is a burly, defensively-oriented big guy who is efficient at converting the opportunities others create for him. He's one of the best percentage rebounders in the college game. Can't shoot, especially from the line, but he'll have a pro career.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis A nice spot-up shooter in the midrange to play off of Derrick Rose, Douglas-Roberts may lack the athleticism and strength to get his own shot at the pro level. He doesn't shoot a lot of threes and his eFG% is over 60.
Robert Dozier, Memphis Dozier is a long, lean forward with not much of an offensive game but defensive skills good enough to land him a bench role at the next level.
Derrick Rose, Memphis The nation's best point guard prospect, some think the 6'3" freshman could go first in the coming draft. He's an athletic marvel, with topflight leaping ability and quickness. Turnover rate was a little high and his numbers don't exactly leap off the page, most likely due to the balance of the talented team on which he plays. The bottom line is that as a freshman, he nearly led his team to an undefeated season.
Creighton at Florida, 6:30 p.m.
Nick Calathes, Florida Led the Gators in scoring and the SEC in assists as a freshman. Calathes has a polished all-around game with triple-double potential and a high steal rate on defense. His height (6'5") is great for a lead guard but he needs to fill out. His brother plays at St. Joseph.
Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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