Adreian Payne and 10 March Madness Stars Who Raised Their NBA Draft Stock

Adreian Payne and 10 March Madness Stars Who Raised Their Draft Stock

Adreian Payne
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

March is the time of year when teams and players get hot. Michigan State's Adreian Payne is no different, as the Spartans advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over Harvard and Delware. Payne's contributions were monumental in both contests. Here are 10 others who joined Payne in raising their NBA draft stock.

Rexford Sheild is contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @RexfordSheild and “like” him on Facebook.

10. Marcus Paige

Marcus Paige
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10. Marcus Paige

Marcus Paige
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Marcus Paige has been the backbone of the Carolina offense, and his surge continued during the first two rounds of the 2014 NCAA tournament. He shot 44 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three, averaging 19 points per game. During the Tar Heels' first-round matchup against Providence, he was more of a distributor with the basketball, tallying four assists and one turnover. Against Iowa State, he exhibited his sweet shooting stroke.

9. Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein
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9. Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein
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When you look at Kentucky's box score this year, Cauley-Stein's numbers haven't particularly stood out. Yet, his play on the defensive end and all-round athleticism have impressed scouts. In Kentucky's two NCAA games against Kansas State and Wichita State, the Kansas native averaged five blocks, 2.5 blocks and three steals. He doesn't exert him very often, and even less so on offense, but he could be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

8. Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas
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8. Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas
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Stauskas has the potential to make his name known in the NBA from beyond the arc. En route to Michigan's second-straight Sweet 16 appearance, the sharpshooter shot 47 percent from distance. He shot better from the field in the first of two games (56 percent), but only distributed one assist. Against the Longhorns, he struggled shooting (33 percent), but dished out eight assists. His versatility will help him transition into the league.

7. Jarnell Stokes

Jarnell Stokes
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7. Jarnell Stokes

Jarnell Stokes
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The Tennesse forward has looked like a man among boys in the paint during the team's run to the Sweet 16. His physicality allows him to back down defenders on the offensive end and muscle them up on the defensive end, which is a lost art in the NBA nowadays. In the Volunteers' three NCAA tournament games, Stokes averaged 20 points per game, 15 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He has also been nearly automatic from the line, shooting 88 percent.

6. Joseph Young

Joseph Young
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6. Joseph Young

Joseph Young
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Joseph Young may be the smallest guy on the court at all times, but he made big shot after big shot during Oregon's two-game NCAA tournament run. Young is a shoot-first point guard, which may be a crutch to NBA scouts, but he proves his worth with his high percentage shot-making ability. In the second-round matchup against BYU, he scored 19 points with a 58 field goal percentage, and followed that performance with 29 points on Saturday.

5. Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell
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5. Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell
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While Harrell is often overlooked by teammate Russ Smith, who decreased his stock this weekend with a slew of turnovers (6.5 per game), Harrell stole the show for the Cardinals on both ends of the floor. He averaged a modest 10.5 points per game, but a more impressive 12 rebounds. He needs to improve on his game outside the paint to be a real threat in the NBA, but the potential is there for the 6-foot-8 forward.

4. Xavier Thames

Xavier Thames
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4. Xavier Thames

Xavier Thames
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Kudos to head coach Steve Fischer as the San Diego State Aztecs have another NBA prospect in Xavier Thames. He struggled with his mid-range game against New Mexico State, but he took advantage of his athleticism to collect 23 points and five assists. Thames was on another level in the ensuing Sweet 16 clincher, shooting 47 percent from the field and 89 percent from the charity stripe, adding a game-high 30 points.

3. DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane
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3. DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane
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During the NCAA tournament, teams need to have a go-to scorer. DeAndre Kane has certainly fulfilled this role with Fred Hoiberg and Co., as his game-winning shot against UNC guided the team to their first Sweet 16 since 2000. Thus far in the tournament, the 24-year old guard added 19 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and six assists to his 2014 NBA Draft resume.

2. Shabazz Napier

Shabazz Napier
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2. Shabazz Napier

Shabazz Napier
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Head coach Kevin Ollie should thank Napier a lot, as his high scoring is the driving factor behind Connecticut's Sweet 16 run after missing the tournament last year. Napier's sweet jump shot at the top of the key combined with his ability to get his teammates involved has been almost a mirror image of former Huskies guard Kemba Walker. His draft position is still up in the air, but his 24.5 points per game average should improve it.

1. Cleanthony Early

Cleanthony Early
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1. Cleanthony Early

Cleanthony Early
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Even though college basketball players don't exactly get paid, Early made himself millions with his performance against Kentucky in the Round of 32. Wichita State needed a playmaker on Sunday against the athletic Wildcats defense, and Early stood up to the test impressively. He tallied 31 points and seven rebounds, and did it with a 71 percent field-goal percentage.

 

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