Under-the-Radar 2013 NBA Draft Sleepers Guaranteed to Break out in March Madness
Every year we see a new March Madness hero break out on the national stage and increase his NBA draft stock.
Some guys might not even be projected to leave after this year, but a strong NCAA tournament will allow them to sell while their stock has peaked.
These breakout candidates were selected not only by their talent level but on their team's chances of advancing in the tournament. While Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and Mike Muscala of Bucknell are both under-the-radar prospects, it's just too hard to imagine their teams making a run in this year's Madness.
The following 2013 NBA draft prospects should all be considered candidates to string together a couple of strong tournament performances.
Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's, 6'4'', PG
Matthew Dellavedova guided his team into the field of 64, finishing with 22 points and four assists in a play-in win over Middle Tennessee.
He's as pure of point guard as you'll find in the field, widely known for his effectiveness working off ball screens. St. Mary's is a disciplined team who knows how to adjust when the defense makes Dellavedova give it up.
NBA scouts are aware of Dellavedova, having played for the Australian Olympic team last summer. He sets the table as well as any facilitator out there, picking apart the defense with the dribble manipulation.
He's got the size at 6'4'', but scouts question his athleticism and quickness for next-level play at the position. Dellavedova will have his chance to prove them wrong when he matches up with Joe Jackson and Memphis.
Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4'', SG
Michigan State's Gary Harris remains somewhat under the radar, which could change over the next few weeks with a March Madness breakout.
Some consider Harris a solid NBA prospect, and while he's still got a ways to go, there's a lot to like about his game.
Any Tom Izzo team is a threat in the NCAA tournament, which improves the chances that one of his players will erupt.
Harris is a two-way guard who can attack, defend and shoot. There's a sense of maturity about his game that leads you to believe he'll be prepared and composed when crunch time inevitably hits.
Scouts have already acknowledged his future potential, and though he's not NBA-ready, a strong March could trigger an early departure.
James Southerland, Syracuse, 6'8'', SF
It's never too late to break out.
Syracuse senior James Southerland went nuts in the Big East conference tournament, splashing the nets for 19 threes in a four-game span. With scouts in attendance, NBA draft buzz was present in the air.
The Orange have the experience, talent and the depth to make a deep run in this thing. If they do, chances are Southerland's three-ball will be working.
Southerland has that ability to really heat up and put points on the board in bunches. He scored 35 points on nine three-pointers at Arkansas earlier this year.
He enters March Madness scorching hot from downtown. There's no reason why that heat can't transfer from one tournament to the next.
Shane Larkin, Miami, PG, 5'11''
Though never really regarded as an NBA prospect, it's tough to just write off Larkin because of his size.
He's led Miami to a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance and has given his team a chance to make a run at the Final Four.
At 22 years old, Larkin has the talent and maturity level to take over this tournament. No one man can check his lightning quickness from baseline to baseline. And now that he's sporting a 40 percent three-point stroke, Larkin is capable of lighting up the arc.
He's been one of the top college players in the country all year, but this is a great opportunity for Larkin to break out as an NBA prospect.
Zeke Marshall, Akron, 7'0'', C
Zeke Marshall has been on NBA radars thanks to his size, length and gradual improvement over his college career. But as a pro prospect, he's still nothing more than a potential second-round flier who doesn't have many offensive moves up his sleeve.
With VCU and Michigan in Akron's path, this is a perfect final opportunity to rise up and be noticed.
Marshall finished No. 4 in the country in both shot-blocking and field goal percentage. He's strictly an interior presence who protects the rim and finishes above it.
The defenses he'll be facing can't simulate his size and length in practice. This is a great opportunity for Marshall to put his strengths to good use and dominate the paint with millions of eyes watching.
Andre Hollins, Minnesota, 6'1'', PG
As a No. 11 seed, Minnesota has some winnable games in its path, including sixth-seeded UCLA, which is missing its second-leading scorer in Jordan Adams.
Andre Hollins has the chance to completely break out and steer the Gophers to a March Madness run.
He's got a knack for playing well on the brighter stages—earlier this year he scored 41 points in a win over Memphis, 22 in a win over Michigan State, 22 in a win over Illinois, 25 in a loss to Indiana and 21 in a win over Wisconsin.
Though not necessarily a natural point guard, Hollins is quick, strong and athletic, with the ability to separate on the perimeter and attack off the dribble. He's capable of taking over games offensively, which is what Minnesota will need him to do for them to knock off Florida in a probable Round 2 matchup.
Though not many scouts project him as a 2013 draft prospect, a string of standout performances could change that.
Amath M'Baye, Oklahoma, 6'9'', SF
Amath M'Baye made the transfer from Wyoming to Oklahoma, where he'll have the opportunity to showcase his NBA athleticism on the national stage.
Not much of the offense runs through M'Baye; he's not the type of guy who's going to take over offensively. But at 6'9'' with smooth, face-up athleticism, he's capable of making plays that flash his NBA potential.
For a No. 10 seed, Oklahoma has a few very winnable games on its path. San Diego State has been erratic all year, while Georgetown isn't exactly the most intimidating No. 2 seed in the field.
M'Baye should have the chance to put his talent and strengths to good use and contribute to an NCAA tournament run.
He reminds me a lot of Moe Harkless of the Orlando Magic, who wasn't ready for the pros but got taken No. 15 overall based on potential. M'Baye will have the stage set for him to display that potential to NBA scouts and pick up a few wins on his way.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6'3'', SG
While Marcus Smart gets most of the attention at Oklahoma State, Markel Brown has quietly been one of the most improved players in the nation.
Brown raised his scoring average from 10.5 to 15.3 points per game and his three-point percentage from 31.9 percent to 37 percent.
Before this season, Brown fell into the "elite athlete" category but had never been a player who demonstrated a skill set that would justify an NBA draft pick. Having markedly improved his overall game, he should be regarded as a prospect capable of generating offense and defending point guards at the next level.
I consider the Cowboys as one of the sleeper teams in March, with Brown a candidate to generate NBA buzz once the run ensues.
Kendall Williams, New Mexico, 6'4'', PG/SG
While New Mexico could be a sleeper team in the NCAA tournament, Kendall Williams could be a sleeper in the 2013 NBA draft.
We've seen Williams take over games before, most notably a 46-point outburst over a tough Colorado State opponent.
Williams has great size and athleticism for a ball-handler, putting him on NBA radars despite his lack of point guard instincts.
The Lobos got a No. 3 seed and are certainly capable of making a run in the bottom half of the East region.
Should this happen, expect Williams to be front and center as the team's catalyst and offensive centerpiece.