Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects to Watch: South Regional
(ACC Basketball Report)
Out of all the regions, the South may be the weakest in the NCAA tournament. Virginia and Tennessee are in the top tier, but the disappointing mixture of single-digit seeds and possible Cinderella teams could make this a two-horse race. The same applies for draft prospects, as there is a shortage of those as well in the Louisville regional. Without further ado, here are the region’s Top 10 draft prospects.
10. Jordan Ford-St. Mary’s
Ford is not on many NBA draft radars and are not expected to be selected in this year’s NBA draft, meaning he is very likely to return to school for his senior season. Ford had a breakout season for St. Mary’s but needs to show more to really pop for the scouts. In next year’s issue, he may rank a bit higher than in this year’s, if he can keep trending in the right direction.
9. Ethan Happ-Wisconsin
A dominant college player, Happ has been awarded three All-Big Ten first-team selections. Throughout his four years, he holds career averages of 15.3 and 8.8 points and rebounds per game, respectively. However, his lack of athleticism and ability to score along the perimeter severely hinder his draft stock. A penniless Frank Kaminsky, he is still one to watch as his Wisconsin Badgers take on a hot Oregon squad coming off a Pac-12 tournament championship.
8. Kyle Guy-Virginia
The first of three Virginia players to make the list, Guy is heralded as perhaps the best three-point shooter in college basketball: he takes over seven three-pointers a game and makes over 46% of them! He’s not the biggest name in draft circles, but he possesses the most important skill in the modern NBA. Guy has the capability of taking over games and it will be interesting to see how his squad bounces back from an embarrassing loss last tournament.
7. Eric Paschall- Villanova
Paschall’s age and style of play doesn’t warrant a ton of excitement, but he has grown in multiple ways with each passing season. The Villanova senior possesses perimeter-shooting abilities and a dangerous pick-and-roll game. Villanova thrives when it has veteran leadership, and the playmaking Paschall can pass efficiently for his size. This tournament offers a prime opportunity for Paschall to play his way into a first round pick.
6. Admiral Schofield- Tennessee
Either you love Schofield’s game or you don’t; I’m all in. There are concerns over his lateral quickness, defense, and offensive identity at the next level, but his leadership and shot-making abilities make him one of the deadliest players in college basketball. He comes in at #6 on the list because his positional uncertainty makes it unlikely his stock will rise significantly - even if he balls out.
5. Carsen Edwards- Purdue
Throughout the first half of the season, Edwards was making a strong case for national player of the year, but a second half filled with inefficient performances erased his name from that spot. Although he can score in volume, it is unclear whether he can run the offense at the next level -- his lack of size being a significant factor as well. Edwards will have to hold off a solid Old Dominion squad, which holds upset potential, if he wants to boost his stock.
4. Louis King- Oregon
Oregon comes into the tournament as a dangerous 12-seed after winning four games in as many days to claim the Pac-12 conference tournament. Louis King was a projected first-round pick before the season started in many mocks, but an early injury and lack of exposure saw him drop. Now he has the opportunity to reclaim the pre-existing support, while introducing himself to the national landscape.
3. Ty Jerome- Virginia
Jerome’s name has been showing up in more and more first round mock drafts; the 6-foot-5 guard is shooting the deep ball at just under 40% and has shown that perimeter scoring is not the only component in his offensive arsenal. His size and tough-nosed defense complete his case for a top-three position on the list.
2. Grant Williams- Tennessee
The back-to-back SEC Player of the Year isn’t a physical specimen at 6’7”, 236, but his feel for the game and basketball IQ make him an exciting player to watch. Williams’ strength and touch around the rim and potential to be a future three-level scorer in the NBA slot him at #2; a strong tournament showing could push him into possible late-lottery considerations.
1. De’Andre Hunter- Virginia
Hunter could have very well have been a late first-round selection last year, but he decided to return to school. Now he lands in the lottery of almost every mock draft, with the potential to be taken in the top five. The Cavalier forward is the perfect fit for the three-and-D play style of a prototypical wing in the NBA and has shown flashes of substantial offensive potential. Hunter will be the player to watch in the South region, as scouts flock to see how he performs on the nation’s biggest stage.