As top college basketball teams advance in March Madness’ second weekend, NBA draft prospects are dropping like flies.
The NCAA tournament started with several highly-regarded NBA hopefuls, but stars alone don’t win national titles in college basketball. As of Saturday, ESPN NBA draft insider Chad Ford noticed the dearth of NBA talent left in the field:
With Olynyk & Crabbe out, just 13 out of 30 players on my Big Board still in the Tourney.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) March 24, 2013
With a lucky 13 still hanging around in the Sweet 16, a few players have monumental changes to seize the national attention and make serious NBA paydays.
*All NBA draft rankings and scouting reports from DraftExpress.com
Trey Burke, Michigan
The Wolverines' star point guard had never seen anything like VCU’s “Havoc” defense until Saurday, but he handled it with relative ease as his Wolverines cruised to a 78-53 win.
Burke will get much of the credit for attracting VCU’s front line all afternoon and finding his teammates for easy baskets, and his NBA stock is rising because of it, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford:
Burke's 7 TOs were the most of the season. VCU's defense tested him. But thought overall he had a terrific game.His stock still rising.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) March 23, 2013
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Once a volume shooter as a freshman guard, Burke has blossomed into a top-10 prospect in DraftExpress’ Top 100. He has the triple-threat ability in the pick-and-roll to drive the lane, stroke it from deep or find the open man.
NBA scouts continue to salivate about Burke, and if Michigan can continue their run, it will only get better.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Carter-Williams had slipped in prognosticators' mock drafts as he struggled to hit jump shots in conference play. Nevertheless, ‘Cuse’s success on a national stage has propelled Carter-Williams into favorable perception.
If he can keep the turnovers down and continue to play at a high level, NBA scouts will be enamored with his 6’5” frame and long wingspan at the point guard position. Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears comments on Carter-William’s ability following Syracuse’s win over California on Saturday:
Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams, who I will see today, also very intriguing due to his height.Once he gets handle, TOs down...Big upside— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) March 23, 2013
While it’s unclear how Carter-Williams' defensive talents will translate coming into the league under Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, the overall package may be too alluring anyway in a murky draft pool.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Payne has been a rock inside for the Spartans, averaging 10 points and seven rebounds while bolstering the Michigan State front line alongside Derrick Nix.
His NBA prospects shone bright during Michigan State’s third-round win over Memphis as the 6’9” forward dropped a delicious stat line (14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, two steals).
He’s currently ranked on Draft Express’ Top 100 as the sixth pick of the second round, but his recent showing may change that, per ESPN’s Chad Ford, yet again:
Adreian Payne made his case for being a 1st round pick today.Big game against NBA caliber athletes. 14 pts, 10 rebs, 5 blks, 3 steals.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) March 23, 2013
Payne will have opportunities against top pro prospects to continue his NBA draft ascent. If the favorites continue to win out, Payne will have dates with both Mason Plumlee and Gorgui Dieng in the post.
Sounds like he’ll have a platform to make a statement for April.
Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his NBA Draft and March Madness coverage on Twitter.