Risers and Fallers Heading to the Sweet Sixteen
To say March has been madness to this point would be an understatement. Many key upsets in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament have been leaving spirits and brackets in the dirt. We saw a pair of two seeds go down in Duke and Louisville and the number one overall seed in the tournament in Villanova take a loss to Wisconsin all in the round of 32. Where only 18 brackets survived and correctly selected the sweet sixteen, the madness is sure to continue.
As for the NBA draft, there were prospects that shined and fell apart correlating to their teams. I can tell you that the NCAA Tournament is good for one detrimental thing when it comes to scouting. Will these top tier NBA prospects be able to thrive at the highest stage? Do they feast on the big moment or do they crumble? Rankings will be changed as the watch for stock has truly begun. We take a look at whose stock rose and whose fell after the first two rounds of March madness.
Jonathan Isaac and Dwayne Bacon- Florida State:
Yes, Florida State took a gargantuan loss to 11-seeded Xavier in the second round, but that didn’t halt these two from having a fantastic short-lived tournament. Isaac proved his stock by being one of the most reliable options for the Seminoles. His best quality is his ability to play within the team’s scheme. He’s able to take efficient shots and produce within the offense. Bacon kept his pace and proved his ability to score like a cannibal. The guy is tenacious from all over the floor and finds ways to put the ball in the basket. Serving as Florida State’s primary scorer, he definitely showed that he can score at the NBA level. He’s a solid mid-first round pick at this point.
Caleb Swanigan- Purdue:
Talk about carrying a team on his back. Purdue is a different team with him on the floor simply put. An unbelievable rebounder with a knack for getting second chance points. He’s a good middle of the floor general and can control an offense from inside and out. He also has the ability to stretch the floor and score from all angles. Swanigan is also a big body who can protect the rim. Depending how well he plays in the rest of the tournament, his stock is sure to rise to around mid-first round.
Lonzo Ball- UCLA:
Lonzo Ball is already my number one overall player in the draft so how could it be possible for his stock to increase? All he did was further prove my point so I’m giving some much deserved love to the star point guard. The traits were there and the intangibles were assumed, but when UCLA was on the biggest stage and needed a spark to excel them over the top, Ball was the one who rose. Plays his best ball when the pressure is on and doesn’t show a hint of fear or intimidation. He is the best player in the draft and the sooner people see that, the better. His father has a legitimate point.
Josh Jackson- Kansas:
After these first two rounds of the tournament, Kansas looks like the team to beat. The Jayhawks may be one of the only schools in the country that can claim they have a big three. Frank Mason and Devonte Graham have made themselves the most dangerous backcourt combination in college basketball. The third piece, however, might be the most crucial to their success. Jackson has always been a great defender and transition player, but in the first two games of the tournament, he’s shown that he can efficiently score the ball. Showed a lot of promise finishing at the rim and showed a smooth stroke from deep. Jackson was already a top three player on my board and is simply making himself look better by the game.
Johnathan Motley- Baylor:
Motley was always a good player, but I will be the first to admit that I underestimated his talent significantly. Johnathan Motley is flat out unguardable in the post. He can post up back to the basket, face up and shoot in traffic, and stretch the floor with a smooth outside jumper. Offensively, he is cream of the crop in this year’s field. He might work his way up to lottery status by the time the tournament is done.
Harry Giles- Duke:
I ranked Giles as my number two center in the draft based strictly on upside alone. The center crop in this year’s class is not overwhelming. However, even with that being the case, Giles just isn’t making enough of a case for himself. I often called him this year’s Skal Labissiere. Probably could stay another year, but won’t. The upside is still there, but the production didn’t follow suit. After being the best high school recruit in the country, he has done more than underwhelmed at the college level. At this point, late-first round would be the earliest he could go.
Justin Patton- Creighton:
Creighton got upset by Rhode Island in the first round partly because their best player was subpar the entire day. Justin Patton was the reason Creighton was on the map this season and him losing his groove in the biggest game of the season doesn’t help his stock. Patton won’t fall far, but that fact will leave a bad taste in scouts’ mouths. Patton shot 3-12 from the field for just eight points. Because center is not a deep position, he won’t fall that far being my third best center in the field, but this outing does not help.
Luke Kennard- Duke:
Kennard is another guy who won’t fall too far, but after shooting 4-for-18 in Duke’s short-lived tournament run doesn’t help his stock especially when his scoring ability is what makes him attractive. He had an unbelievable campaign this season with the Blue Devils making shots from all over the floor. Teams will bank on that scoring ability when they go after him, but after the tournament, his stock takes a minor hit.
Josh Hart- Villanova:
Hart actually played well in the tournament, but his biggest flaw was his inability to come up in the big moments. Wisconsin deserved every part of that second round win, but if Hart came through late, that game could’ve ended differently. He is a relatively polished product as a wing and can still thrive in the right system. A team like the Spurs could easily gamble on him and grow their solid depth and future blueprint and not be worried about this little dent. Hart is still an immensely talented player, but when it came down to the wire, he didn’t pull through.
V.J. Beachum- Notre Dame:
Beachum was probably a second round pick anyway, but he was just flat out awful in this tournament. When I say awful, I mean 3-for-23 from the field. Not only was he abysmal shooting the ball, he didn’t do much else without the ball in his hands. If he had played at the high level he was playing almost all year, it is more than possible that Notre Dame would still be in the tournament. Beachum had upside as a good energy role player at the NBA level, but NBA teams may not want to take a chance on him in the draft after this performance.