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March Madness 2015: NBA Prospect Watch, Sweet 16

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With the NCAA Tournament entering its second week, we take a look at how the top remaining prospects fared.

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The first week of the tournament left a good number of top NBA prospects still fighting for the championship—let's take a look at how the survivors fared, and preview their next match-ups.

Click on the hyperlink on a player to open their DraftExpress profile, which has all their basic information; stats all come from sports-reference.com.

C Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed Utah, Friday March 27th

Okafor had an exceptional weekend offensively, scoring 21 points against Robert Morris and 26 points with six rebounds against San Diego State. Neither competitor had an answer for Okafor's size and strength—Aztec center Skylar Spencer is one of the best defensive players in the Mountain West, but Okafor pushed him around fairly easily. The freshman continued to show off his repertoire of post moves, solid passing skills and general offensive awareness. He was quiet on the glass with just nine combined boards, but he made up for that with his active defense.

The next matchup for the Blue Devils will be Utah which sets up an awesome showdown between Okafor and Jakob Poeltl, discussed below.

PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed West Virginia, Thursday March 26th

Two so-so games by Kentucky still managed to produce two wins in comfortable fashion. Towns had a strong game against Hampton with 21 points, 11 boards and three blocks, but no one on the Pirates had a chance at defending Towns consistently. The eight point, seven rebound and three block performance against Cincinnati, one of the better defensive teams in the county, was more of a real litmus test for Towns.

Next up comes West Virginia, which creates a fun storyline; in 2010, the Kentucky squad with DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe was beaten in the Elite Eight by Bob Huggins' West Virginia squad. That season's Mountaineers team was better defensively than this one, and Kentucky is too talented on both ends of the court to really predict this level of an upset, but it's a nice story line nonetheless.

C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed West Virginia, Thursday March 26th

Kentucky's offense wasn't up to full strength this weekend, but Cauley-Stein made sure their defense was. He had a solid seven point, 11 board game against Hampton and a so-so statline against Cincinnati with nine points and two boards, but the stats can't easily express how important he is to Kentucky's high-level defense. Sports Reference has his defensive rating—an estimate of how many points he gives up per 100 possessions—at 78.6.  Just for comparison sake, Montrezl Harrell, who is well-regarded as one of the better defenders in college, gets a 89.3.

SF Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Next Contest:
vs. 6 seed Xavier, Thursday March 26th

While Johnson had 22 points and five boards in the 1st Round win against Texas Southern, he followed that up with just four points (albeit with ten rebounds) against Ohio State while shooting 1-12 from the floor. While his offensive struggles were a big concern, he did play solid defense and was shifted to guarding Ohio State star D'Angelo Russell at times. Xavier poses a good chance for a redemption game—the Musketeers are a solid offensive team (73.6 PPG, mostly doing their damage in the paint) but they aren't as solid defensively. Johnson needs to show that he can be a functioning part of the Arizona offense.

SF Justice Winslow, Duke
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed Utah, Friday March 27th

Winslow had a great weekend; a six point, seven assist, 11 rebound effort against Robert Morris, and a monster of a performance with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks against San Diego State. Against the Aztecs, who have a team of lengthy, smart defenders, Winslow dominated in transition and showed off his passing skills while playing NBA level defense. He has a great ability to impact all areas of the game and should be a lottery lock in my books.

PF/C Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Next Contest:
vs. 4 seed North Carolina, Thursday March 26th

Wisconsin had a scare against Oregon, but some late offensive magic helped seal up a 72-66 victory. Kaminsky had a well-rounded 16 point, seven board, two assist line against the Ducks, and also put up 27 points and 12 boards on 10-14 shooting in the first round against Coast Carolina. He's continuing to show off his total versatility, and the matchup with North Carolina will be a nice test for the senior; the Tar Heels have two solid bigmen in Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson to battle against Kaminsky. North Carolina is a strong offensive team and are the 2nd best rebounding squad in the country; one of the biggest knocks against Kaminsky is his rebounding, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles the challenge on the boards.

PF Kevon Looney, UCLA
Next Contest:
vs. 2 seed Gonzaga, Friday March 27th

Ignoring the controversial call that kept the Bruins in the tournament (seriously, goaltending?), Looney rebounded from an below-average against SMU and finished with a solid 10 point, 11 rebound effort (5-10 shooting) against UAB. Looney had some good offensive moments against UAB and wasn't afraid to attack the paint, but the next contest against Gonzaga—who boast a lineup of strong defensive big men—will pose a much greater challenge for the freshman. Gonzaga demolished the Bruins 87-74 in Los Angeles earlier this season, although Looney had a solid performance with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

PF Trey Lyles, Kentucky
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed West Virginia, Thursday March 26th

Lyles saw solid minutes in both of the Wildcat's two games; he had 10 points on 5-10 shooting with six boards against Hampton, and 10 points, 11 boards and two blocks against Cincinnati. Lyles gets overshadowed by his Kentucky teammates, but the fact that he's successfully playing the small forward spot for the Wildcats when he's going to be a power forward in the NBA has been great to see. His shooting ability makes it work, and he's agile enough that he's had decent success against smaller, faster opponents on defense. He's worked hard to fit into Kentucky's deep squad.

SG Devin Booker, Kentucky
Next Contest:
vs. 5 seed West Virginia, Thursday March 26th

Booker is in the midst of a massive shooting slump, combining for just eight points on 4-15 shooting in the Wildcat's two games. None of the Kentucky players had strong offensive weekends, and to his credit Booker wasn't afraid to try and shoot out of his slump, but this is certainly a concerning stretch for the 6'6 freshman. In the past seven games, Booker is averaging seven points on 32%. If Booker continues to struggles, one wonders how far his stock has to fall before he sticks with Kentucky for another season.

PG Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Next Contest:
vs. 7 seed Wichita State, Thursday March 26th

Grant was the star Notre Dame needed him to be this weekend; he played every minute of both games, finishing with 17 points, five assists and two steals against Northeastern, and 16 points, five assists and five rebounds in the overtime win against Butler. Aside from some poor shooting decisions (he's still too enamored with his three point shot, and he was just 1-6 on the weekend) he had two excellent performances. The point guard matchup on Thursday between Grant and Wichita State's Fred VanVleet is going to be a beauty.

PF/C Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
Next Contest:
vs. 8 seed North Carolina State, Friday March 27th

After barely escaping UC Irvine in the first round (in a performance where he'd had just eight points and four rebounds in), Harrell and the Cardinals rebounded with a solid win against Northern Iowa. It was a solid if unsurprising performance by Harrell, with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks, and he was simply too strong and too active for the Panthers to contain consistently. Harrell isn't going to wow you with any of his basketball skills, but there's always plays like these; he's one of the toughest players in college basketball.

SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
Next Contest:
vs. 6 seed Xavier, Thursday March 26th

Hollis-Jefferson was the Wildcat's best player in their demolition of Texas Southern in Round 1, scoring 23 points (7-9 from the floor) along with 10 rebounds. His 11 point, 10 rebound, five assist performance against Ohio State was married by his ineffective jumpshot (3-12 shooting), but he continues to show his versatility and plays above-average defense.

C Jakob Poeltl, Utah
Next Contest:
vs. 1 seed Duke, Friday March 27th

Poeltl is a raw, 7'0 freshman from Australia who has solid defensive fundamentals and excellent length, but lacks in basketball IQ and strength. He's had some excellent games this year—he had 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks against Stephen F. Austin in the 1st Round—but his intrigue is much more about his potential than it is his current skills. His next contest will be up against Jahlil Okafor, and while it'll be an interesting matchup, he lacks the strength to be able to contain Okafor consistently.

Additional players to watch: SF Sam Dekker, Wisconsin; PG Delon Wright, Utah; PG Tyus Jones, Duke; PG Terry Rozier, Louisville; PF Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga