Finally spring has come and March Madness is here. Top players are preparing themselves to perform at the next level – not only in their efforts to win the Big Dance, but also to prove to the NBA teams watching that they are worthy of being selected in this year’s NBA Draft. The NCAA Tournament has done wonders for players’ draft stock in the past. Guys like Stephen Curry and Gordon Hayward have proven that a good performance in the tourney can take you a long way in June. With that, here are the Top 10 NBA prospects to look out for in the NCAA Tournament.
1. Derrick Williams, Arizona
As far as potential goes, Derrick Williams is the cream of the crop. Averaging 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds on the season for Arizona, Williams is ready to contribute right now for any team on the next level. One of the strongest assets to his game is his efficiency, which most often translates to success in the pros. He uses his quickness and finesse to maneuver around defenders underneath the basket, but if he puts on a little weight, bangs more in the post and develops a consistent mid-range jumper, he’ll be relatively unguardable.
2. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger could be the most NBA ready prospect in college basketball. His frame suits his game perfectly. At 6-9 and 285 pounds, he can bang with just about any power forward in the League. His post moves are very advanced and polished, and he finishes with both hands underneath with ease. He accepts double-teams well, which has improved his ability to find shooters out of the post. Sullinger is a monster on both the defensive and offensive glass, as well as a skilled outlet passer. His lack of athletic ability is the only thing that could potentially hold him back at the next level.
3. Kyrie Irving, Duke
With the lack of true point guards in this year’s class, Irving will easily be the top point guard taken. His skill set at the point guard position is unmatched amongst other PGs in the nation. His compilation of dribble moves, speed, quickness and his ability to shoot off the dribble makes him an extremely tough cover one-on-one. He plays with a high basketball I.Q., which reflects on his ability to facilitate the rock. With the proper coaching at the next level, Irving has the tools to run the pick and roll at an elite level, almost like a Chris Paul or Deron Williams. His toughness and will to win is unmatched, down the stretch he will do whatever it takes to win a game. Any team looking for a new franchise point guard will be more than happy to have a chance at landing Irving in the Lottery.
4. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
At 6-9 and 215 pounds, and great athleticism to complement his size, Barnes will be a very productive NBA player. He has adjusted well to playing on the wing, but has a lot to learn about the position – which leaves him with an extremely high ceiling of potential. His biggest disservice to himself is playing without confidence. Although he has now found it amongst collegiate competition, at the NBA level, he could go back to playing shy and intimidated. If he can zone out his environment and focus on playing his game, he can grow to be a dangerous threat in the NBA. His discipline and work ethic will propel his development at the next level. If his potential pans out, Barnes could end up being one of the gems of this Draft.
5. Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Terrence Jones is one of the most versatile players in the country. At 6-8 and 245 pounds, he can play multiple positions on the offensive and defensive end. He is also very comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and setting up teammates. Running the floor is one of his strong points, and he finishes well in transition. He is a good pick and roll man, and often makes fellow freshman Brandon Knight more comfortable on the offensive end. His shot is unorthodox and will need improvement if he’s going to play small forward in the League. He could be a good contributor for a team that lacks size.