The NCAA tournament is where college players get the opportunity to increase their NBA stock, and this year's crop of prospects has really stood out, especially a small handful of players. These men have approached every game with a winner's mentality, refusing to back down from any battle.
Come June's NBA draft, it's going to be hard for any and all teams to not take notice of their tournament efforts.
Take Ohio State's DeShaun Thomas, for example. Everyone knew he was a solid scorer coming into the tourney, but he has been in overdrive during the Buckeyes' two games. If his stock hasn't risen as of late then scouts clearly need to pay better attention.
The fact is that the tourney is where certain players enter the next chapter of their basketball careers, and some setting themselves apart from the pack will make a difference in June.
Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
At 6'10", 235 pounds, Plumlee has been a viable go-to guy in the middle for the Blue Devils. His team has only played two games, but he has averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting an amazing 72 percent from the field.
Granted, Duke hasn't faced much competition in teams like Creighton and Albany, though both teams put up good fights in trying to keep up on offense, but that doesn't take away from how well Plumlee has performed. He has been a great leader and reliable center, and that's only going to help him as the draft draws closer.
DeShaun Thomas, F, Ohio State
With big man Jared Sullinger in the NBA, this season was Thomas' to shine. He did a great job answering the bell and stepping up his effort, leading the Buckeyes with 19.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. That's not at all bad for someone just 6'7", 225 pounds.
In the tourney, however, Thomas has become an excellent go-to scorer. In his team's two games against Iona and Iowa State, he has posted 23 points and four boards per game while shooting an eye-popping 61.5 percent from the field. That's admirable for someone who isn't a center.
Thomas has also been deadly from long range, making 71 percent of his attempts. With his ability to both drive the lane and create his own shot, he definitely has potential as a late first-round pick.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
In the Wolverines' first tournament game against South Dakota State, Burke looked like anything but a top point guard prospect that would be a top draft pick. He scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting, though he did dish out seven assists.
Fast forward to Michigan's recent game against the feisty defense of Virginia Commonwealth, however, and Burke was a different player.
The 6'0" sophomore fought past the famous havoc defense of the Rams, scoring 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and dishing out seven assists, plus coming away with two steals.
His hiccup against South Dakota State may seem like a cause for concern, but everyone has a bad game. Burke is still one of the top point guards in the draft this year, and his continued success in the tourney is only going to increase his stock.
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