Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Sweet 16. The players to watch that remain in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

There is no need to wig out just because Andrew Wiggins is out of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. There are still plenty of prospects to ponder. The group that remains in the Sweet 16 includes more than a dozen future NBA players. We have come up with a list of 16 players we are watching closely from an NBA scouting perspective... (Note: players with the NBA logo next to their name, are players we have certified as "NBA athletes")


Aaron Gordon - Arizona. 6'9" 212 Freshman. Gordon is an NBA athlete, and he defends at a high level. He led the Pac 12 in Defensive rating this season. He is tremendous in the open-court not only as a finisher but also as a decision maker. Gordon is a rare 6'9" athlete that has enough finesse to have more assists than turnovers. He also has enough flair in his game to wow crowds with an amazing array of acrobatic dunks. He is excellent on the offensive glass due to his ability to move his feet so well. ...Gordon's shooting stroke is not ready for primetime. He is shooting 33% from beyond the arc but the long-ball is not a major part of his game. He is a horrid 43% free throw shooter. ...Aaron Gordon is the younger brother of former New Mexico standout Drew Gordon. 


Randle dominates paint.
Julius Randle - Kentucky. 6'9" 248 Freshman. ...Randle projects as a bonafide top-tier Power Forward at the next level. The lefty scorer has a quick first step, and natural ability that is rarely seen in a BIG body.  He has advanced footwork for his age, and a knack for simply getting buckets with his soft touch. Randle shoots 70% FT. ...Randle's "defensive rating" needs improvement. The one area of his defense that is strong is defensive rebounding. He led the SEC in total defensive rebounds. …It's easy to see the low post offensive skills that Randle possesses. He needs to tighten up his decision making and be better than nearly two turnovers for every one assist. 

Kyle Anderson - UCLA. 6'9" 235 Sophomore. ...Anderson is the on-court leader for the Bruins. He is a 6'9" point guard that seemingly plays in slow-motion, as his nickname, "Slo Mo" suggests . He led the Pac 12 in assists per game, and in defensive rebounds per game. That's a combo you rarely, if ever, see. …Anderson owns a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averages 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. He shoots the three-ball at 37% (career), and hits 74% of his foul shots. Some have questioned Anderson's ability to defend but his Defensive Rating is better than average (significantly better than Julius Randle's Defensive Rating). Anderson's length allows him to get deflections, and close-out "stops" with a defensive rebound. While others may doubt Anderson, I do not. He is too smart, too gifted, and too skilled to fail. I think he is a future starting NBA player at minimum. 

Harris has poise
Gary Harris - Michigan St. 6'5" 210 Sophomore. ..."As steady as they come" is the way I like to describe Gary Harris' game. He is a 6'4" shooting guard that gets you 17 points per game, hits 37% of his three point shots (career), has a 1.25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, all while playing good defense. He needs to gain weight (he will as he ages) but Harris plays with energy and appears to have a "self-starter" motor. Harris' mother, Joy Holmes-Harris, played for the WNBA Detroit Shock. 

Sam Dekker - Wisconsin. 6'7" 220 Sophomore. ...Watching Wisconsin games can be fun! Sam Dekker is more athletic than he looks, and he has a skill level that is not matched by many college wings. He has deep range on his jumper and he has a toughness about him that NBA coaches will love. He averages 12 points and six rebounds per game, and he has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (something I love to see in a SF). Dekker is shooting 36% (career) from beyond the college arc. He shoots 68% FT. Defensively, he ranks in the upper-half of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. 

Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky. 7'0" 244 Sophomore. ...Cauley Stein is a rim protecting BIG that is remarkably quick off his feet. He averages three blocked shots per game but scores only seven points per outing. He knows his limitations reasonably well and he seldom takes a bad shot. He shoots 62% FG. ...Far from complete, Cauley Stein is a horrid free throw shooter (42% FT), and he has more turnovers than assists. But his upside is ridiculously high. You just don't find seven footers that can move the way Cauley-Stein does. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona. 6'7" 215 Freshman. ...Arizona is loaded, and freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stands out among great athletes, as the most hyper-athletic guy on the Cats' roster. Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender with a Defensive rating of 88.6. (That's tremendously good). …Hollis-Jefferson has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio but he struggles as a perimeter shooter (he hit only two 3-pt shots all season). He shoots 67% from the line. ...I view him as an top-notch athlete with a huge upside. If the shooting gets better, look out. 

A major Payne to opponents
Adreian Payne - Michigan St. 6'10" 245 Senior. ...The improvement in Payne's game is remarkable. He averaged 2.6 points as a freshman, and now he's good for 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is experienced, having played four seasons for Tom Izzo, and as a member of USA Basketball's World University Games team. Payne has added range to his face up game and now hits 43% of his three point shots (39 of 89 this season). His free throw percentage is 75% (career). ...The only thing Payne does not do is make great decisions with the ball (more than two turnovers for every one assist). 

Chris Walker - Florida. 6'10" 220 Freshman. ...Walker is a long, NBA athlete that can finish in transition with the best. He made his NCAA debut in early February and he has only played 77 total minutes this season. However, he was a 2013 McDonald's All-American, and his physical tools are obvious. He was ranked as the 12th best overall player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. ...In a small sample size of minutes as a Gator, his defensive rating is 84.7 - which is incredible. 

Jordan Adams - UCLA. 6'5" 220 Sophomore. One of my favorite players is Jordan Adams. I believe he is being underrated by most NBA draft web sites. At a minimum, a very good Shooting Guard meets this criteria: defends his position, can create his own shot, ranks high in points-per-minute, shoots the three-ball > .333, has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, shoots free throws at or > 80%. Jordan Adams 'checks off' in all those categories. He is an NBA athlete that averages 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He has a "feel" for the game. Efficient shooting guards can be hard to come by, and teams with great, or even 'very good' shooting guards are usually winners (presently, that's Harden, Ginobili, Wade, Bledsoe, Stephenson, Monta Ellis, DeRozan - all with winning records in the NBA). 

Alex Poythress - Kentucky. 6'8" 239 Sophomore. ...Poythress is an NBA athlete with a high ceiling. He is a strong 6'8" 239 lbs but he is quick enough to take defenders off the dribble on the wing. In the low post, he overpowers smaller wing players. Poythress shoots 34% from beyond the college arc (career) but he does not shoot a high volume of deep shots. He's only playing 18 minutes per game this season, and consistency has been an issue for him. He may wind up being more of a Power Forward than a Small Forward. 

Nik Stauskas - Michigan. 6'6" 200 Sophomore. Stauskas is a confident guard that can really shoot the ball. He scores 17 points per game, and hits an amazing 44% of his three-point attempts. At the free throw line he makes 83%. He has a 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ...His defensive numbers are not good (DEFRTG of 107.6 this season). Stauskas has proven he can play offense at the NBA level, but his relative lack of defensive ability may prohibit him from being anything more than a backup wing player in the NBA. 

Melvin Ejim - Iowa State. 6'6" 230 Senior. Ejim was the 2013-14 Big 12 Player of the Year, posting averages of 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He is a smart, hustling, active player that, in college, plays forward. In the NBA, if he makes the cut, we see Ejim as a TWO. He has improved to 34% as a three-point shooter. He rebounds exceptionally well for his 6'6" size, and he hits 73% of his free throws. 

Cory Jefferson - Baylor. 6'9" 210 Senior. Jefferson improved his scoring, and rebounding averages in each successive season at Baylor. He topped out this season as a Senior at 13.6 points, and 8.2 rebounds per game. …Jefferson is an NBA athlete that plays above the rim. He rarely takes a bad shot, and as a result he's made 55% of his career field goal attempts. He is dependable too, suiting up for every Baylor game (74) in the last two seasons. While he has improved his perimeter shooting, his decision making remains a work in progress. He presently turns the ball over twice for every one assist. 

Kaminsky parks one.
Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin. 7'0" 234 Junior. Frank Kaminsky is a seven-footer with skill and shooting touch. He has a feel for the game. He averages 13.6 points, and 6.3 rebounds per game. He can make three point shots, owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and he shoots 76% from the foul line. He is not terrible on defense but he'd rank in the lower tier of NBA Centers due to average-to-below average athleticism. Overall, I like Kaminsky. I think he CAN crack an NBA roster due to his high skill level combined with his height.  

Glenn Robinson III - Michigan. 6'6" 210. Sophomore. The son of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson is an athletic wing player that is shooting 52% FG for his two-season career at Michigan. He is tremendous as a finisher in transition, playing above the rim. He routinely finishes on the run with highlight dunks. ...Robinson's decision making with the ball is just okay. He has slightly more assists than turnovers in his career, although this season, he's in negative territory. Robinson is not an accurate three point shooter, hitting on just 30% career. He shoots 71% FT. ...Defensively, Robinson's DEFRTG is below average for his position. I view Robinson as another gifted athlete that has a high upside. Improving just a handful of percentage points in his shooting could be HUGE for Robinson's NBA career.   




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