clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

March Madness - NBA Prospect Watch Viewers Guide, Final Four

Another fantastic week of college hoops has cut the field down to four teams, but left plenty to discuss about potential NBA prospects.

Andy Lyons

After the third week of tournament action, the field is down to four teams and most of the top NBA draft prospects have been sent home. With only one full week of hoops left, let's take a look at how the top NBA prospects performed.

Click on a player's name and you'll open their DraftExpress profile, which has all of their basic information.

Still Dancing:

PF Julius Randle, Kentucky
Next Contest: vs. 2 seed Wisconsin

The Kentucky Wildcats, who just a month ago were a talented mess that that failed to mesh, have morphed into a team that looks like they've been playing together for years. Randle has been the best player on the squad, averaging 15.75 points and 12 boards on 47.9% shooting, while snagging a double double in all four games.

He may not be in the same conversation as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, but he's at the very next level under those players. Tournament play isn't everything, and won't erase his inconsistent stretch during the midseason, but this run to end the year should help solidify his top five selection.

SF James Young, Kentucky
Next Contest: vs. 2 seed Wisconsin

Young hasn't played to the level of Randle or the Harrison twins, but he's been consistent on the defensive end and put in some very timely buckets for the Wildcats. His NBA range, athleticism and defensive skills should net him a mid-teens selection in the first round if he enters the draft, although he's raw enough that he may not be ready to contribute for a year or two.

C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Next Contest: vs. 2 seed Wisconsin

An ankle injury in the win over Louisville also kept Cauley-Stein out against Michigan. Hopefully a week off will be enough to get him back on the court before Saturday's game against Wisconsin.

Gone Fishing:

PF Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Lost to 2 seed Wisconsin

Gordon's great tournament run came to an end against Wisconsin, a game that highlighted both his strengths and weaknesses. He cleaned up the glass with a game high 18 boards, and he was great on defense against most of his Wisconsin opponents.

The major problem was his offense, where his inconsistent jumpshot led to a 3-11 shooting performance. The other key concern with Gordon is lack of muscle, and he's going to need an NBA weight room badly or he'll get dominated in the paint. He may also be a tad undersized vertically for an NBA power forward, but he played Wisconsin's 7'0 forward Frank Kaminsky decently enough (Kaminsky had 28 points on the night, but Gordon was a tad more successful than his teammates at slowing Kaminsky).

Unless the Kings jump to the top three (knocking on wood), Gordon is one of my favorite prospects in the team's realistic draft area. His elite defense would be a great addition, and he was a master at doing all the little things on both ends that don't show up in the stat sheets.

SG Gary Harris, Michigan State
Lost to 7 seed Connecticut, 60-54

Harris was one of the few Spartans who consistently performed against UConn. He had 22 points on 8-14 shooting, but even his excellent defensive skills were no match against Shabazz Napier. He won't be a star scorer in the NBA, but he can be a solid 3rd option with great defense.

PF Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
Lost to 8 seed Kentucky, 74-69

Harrell had an excellent game in the loss to Kentucky, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and elite level defense. When he fouled out late in the game, Louisville's defense couldn't recover. He doesn't have the height you want in a power forward, but he's got excellent length and reach combined with the motor of a great NBA defender.

SF Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Lost to 1 seed Florida, 79-68

Anderson is a multi-talented player whose best skill is his high basketball IQ. He put up fantastic all-around numbers for UCLA, finishing the season with 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game on 48% shooting and 48.5% from downtown. He's a crafty player who can shoot, rebound and pass the ball-watching him, you can tell he sees the floor at a level rarely seen in college.

The downside for Anderson, and why he's not considered an elite level prospect, is his mediocre defense combined with his below-average speed and athleticism. His craftiness on offense, which helps him overcome his speed problems, doesn't transition over to defense. He needs to be fit with a team already solid on that side of the ball.

Other Highlights:

  • UCLA point guard Zack LaVine will join his teammate Anderson in the draft, which is a bit of a surprise. LaVine had a great start to the year-he averaged 14.2 points and shot 78% from the field in his nine games-but cooled off significantly after that. He's a very raw prospect, but he'll likely still be a first round player due to his 6'5 size and elite athleticism.
  • Michigan's Nik Stauskas will be a mid-first round draft pick thanks to his fantastic shooting stroke (44.8% percent from three) and above-average handles for a shooting guard. He's not a great defender, and he's a step slower than most NBA shooting guards, but he makes up for it with good size and length.
  • Louisville senior guard Russ Smith is undersized from the NBA, and he's more of a shooting guard than a point guard, but he'll give some team a quality level backup guard in the second round. He averaged 18.2 points and 4.5 assists on 46.8% from the field, and has been the leader in his last two years of excellent Louisville basketball.
  • Michigan State senior forward Adreian Payne had a disappointing performance against UConn. He had 13 points and nine boards, but he fell in love with his long range and shot 3-10 from the three. He was playing against decent post defenders, but he really needed to try and attack down low more than he did. Given his total package of skills, he's a lock for a first round pick.
  • UConn senior Shabazz Napier continued his insane tournament run, dropping 19 points and five assists against Iowa State and then 25 points, four assists and six boards in the upset of Michigan State. Like Russ Smith, he's an undersized shooting guard macerating as a point guard, but he's a great shooter and has been the best player in the tournament.
  • Florida's Patric Young would have been a lottery selection if he'd come out after his freshman year. Three extra years haven't helped Young's draft stock, and he really hasn't shown a ton of improvement, especially on offense. His athleticism and strong defensive intensity will carve him a spot in the NBA, but his lack of a post-game will be a big concern.