Published On: Tue, Mar 13th, 2018

The list: the guide of NBA fans to the prospects of NCAA tournaments

March Madness starts now. But the NBA is next for these university films.

It is the time of the year when the heads of the NBA come out of hibernation and declare themselves valid evaluators of the college talents. We will know in a few possessions if Billy Big Man can “play in the league” or if Johnny Jump Shot has “an NBA future”. It’s a gift, really.

Armed with scouting reports from the internet, aided by the intuition of Rick N O’Donnell from SB Nation, and reinforced with some information from the scouts, here are some of the players who will attract our attention this week.

If you have combined DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba and Jaren Jackson, you would have Anthony Davis. All three great men bring something to the table. Ayton is a physical maniac. Bamba is a revolutionary defensive player. Jackson’s skillset is emerging – dare to say it, tempting.

Of course, all three are faulty in some way. Ayton looks the part but has some glaring question marks on the defensive end. Bamba is a monster defender (7’9 WINGSPAN!) But a little rough at the end offensive. Jackson has range and skill, but he is still physically developing. Overall, you are reminded that players like AD are generational talents instead of an event each year.

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All three are among the top five talents in this year’s draft. Ayton dominated the Pac-12 tournament and his Wildcats have a potential match-match with Kentucky in the second round. Jackson and Michigan State are staring at Duke and Marvin Bagley (another top-fiveish prospect) in Sweet 16. Bamba and Texas sneak into the 10 suits, so take them early.

Mikal Bridges is my favorite player in the draft. Junior Villanova has been around long enough to be recognizable to fans and college designers. He is an excellent 3-e-D candidate who has added small pieces to his game in his three years with the Wildcats.

Specifically, this season Bridges has accumulated more points for scoring, but will earn a living in the league with a skill that controls multiple positions and pulls down three big ones. Bridges is not likely to be a star, but it is a sure value for someone in the last parts of the top 10.

He is a star in his role as a player and guys like that tend to fall a bit and then become gems in the middle of the round. What can I say, I like Big 5 guys who know their role and execute them perfectly. It’s a Philly thing.

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Wait, I lied. Collin Sexton is absolutely my favorite player in the draft. God, I love this guy. It is fearless and fun to the point that some might consider it “polarizing”. Do not be that person. Did you see him throw a Tyus Edney on Texas A & M in the SEC tournament? No? Please check why it is delicious.

Sexton and the Tide equalized for 8/9 in the first round with Virginia Tech. If they survive the first round, they will be hit in Villanova in the second round. All eyes will be on Jalen Brunson, the veteran of Sexton Vs. Nova.

The college basketball gods, we do not ask much, but give us that, please.

Duke and Kentucky have players. As snubbed by the NBA, the Blue Devils have grown on me since they entered the world of unique business. Duke has two lottery talents this year: Bagley and Wendell Carter. They also have Grayson Allen so let’s not get caught up in the Duke’s devotion.

I’m not sure that NBA scouts like Bagley do it as much as college fans, so it’s always a fun dynamic. Carter is just a good prospect for a great man. Not as good as the three mentioned above, but good.

Kentucky is strange this year. Kevin Knox is probably the best candidate for the Wildcats, but playmaker Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (a blind non-blue) is their best player. The real question here is what will we call that guy when he does the championship: SGA?


Lonnie Walker is Donovan Mitchell this year. This is totally unfair because D-Mitch had a few years of college training before he took the championship this year. But Walker looks like the part - long wingspan, nice stretch of shot, high level of athleticism - and plays as if he had a goal mentality. (Just look at this game.) Kindness.)

Walker started off slowly this season after a knee injury during the summer, but entered the field after an injury to prospect mate Bruce Brown. The Canes drew six seeds and on the basis of having seen them play exactly half of the half, I had them do a deep run.

Daniel Gafford is a Ricky Pick. Nobody looks at Ricky O'Donnell's basket anymore and if he says that the man from Arkansas has a bit of Clint Capela in his game, I'm inclined to believe him. Gafford blocks and crushes everything, also plays a medium battery series.

ODonnell brought the Razorbacks to Sweet 16 from seed number 7, but must overtake Butler in the first round. Call lasts there. I can not go against the fight of Brad Stevens.

Remember when Trae Young was turning the college basketball upside down? The Oklahoma guard has one more chance to make an impression after the Sooners have rolled a 10-seed suit despite having gone 2-8 in the stretch. He will have to do it against a tough Rhode Island team in the dreaded time slot on Thursday.

All in all this is a nice collection of university talents with many of the best prospects scattered among the teams present. Let's remember, fellow NBA leaders, that no one cares if you think the games are not up to your high aesthetic standards. It's just basketball.


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