By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 19, 2014
Though NBA scouts already have a good grasp on which college players are headed to the next level heading into the NCAA Tournament, there is still some value for these players in terms of their draft stock. Ask guys like Stephen Curry what the NCAA Tournament did for his draft value. Heading into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, which 10 players could do a lot of good for their draft stock?
Gary Harris was likely going to be a lottery pick had he left school after his freshman year. After returning and struggling to start the season, though, his stock has him on the fringe of the lottery right now. He’s come on late in the season, though, and a great outing in the tournament from him individually could push him firmly back into the lottery.
Isaiah Austin is currently projected to go in the early-to-mid second round of the draft, but this tournament could allow him to show that he’s more pro-ready than we expect. Though he’s thin, his length and seven-foot frame give him massive potential as a defender at the next level, especially if his offensive game can continue to progress. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do in March for the Bears.
Louisville’s star guard and best offensive player, Russ Smith, certainly has his flaws. However, the undersized guard can flat-out score the basketball. As Louisville is poised to make a run in the tournament, Smith could possibly move himself into the first round in hopes that he can be an offensive sparkplug in the mold of Isaiah Thomas.
Tyler Ennis’ performance with the Orange as a freshman has vaulted him into the lottery, but there’s a distinct possibility that he could end up even higher. Ennis has proven he’s a big-time performer that can capture the moment, which could help boost his value further.
Nick Johnson is a shooter; we know this. However, the Wildcats guard has been plagued by inconsistency for much of the year. He’s a borderline first-rounder as of right now, but a big performance in March could help solidify his position in the first round.
Obviously Wichita State has had a wonderful season and Cleanthony Early has been the star for the Shockers. Now that he’s cracking mock drafts, the tournament could prove even more beneficial to his NBA dreams. If he and Wichita State continue to prove doubters wrong, it could do a great deal for where he’ll be selected in June.
Not many players have seen their stock fall quite like Marcus Smart. While many people still have him going in the upper-to-mid lottery, there are also quite a few that think he could fall to the late lottery or even out of the top-14. However, if Smart can help lead the Cowboys to some kind of prosperity in March, his fortunes might turn back for the better.
Glenn Robinosn III would’ve likely been a lottery pick had he left school after last season, but now he’s fallen to being a projected second-round pick. While he’s probably not a lottery-type talent, he’s got more talent than what he’s shown this season. If he can put together a nice tournament run, that might help bring him back into favor in the minds of some teams.
Julius Randle is going to be a lottery pick no matter what, but quite a few people have soured on him as a pro prospect. The tournament offers the chance for the Kentucky freshman to prove himself as a player that can lead a team that’s been inconsistent and to succeed against a high level of competition. We’ll see if he can garner some good will with scouts in March.
Andrew Wiggins is a lock to be taken with one of the first three picks. However, his season with the Jayhawks has seen him fall from being the near-consensus number one pick to possibly falling to the third pick. With Joel Embiid’s future up in the air a bit for the tourney, Wiggins could put on a show and re-establish himself as the best in this draft class.
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