NCAA Tournament 2013: NBA Hopefuls Who Need a Big Showing in the Next Round

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 21:  Gary Harris #14 (R) and Branden Dawson #22 of the Michigan State Spartans react to a play in the second half against the Valparaiso Crusaders during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 21, 2013 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

For NBA scouts, the NCAA tournament is more than just a fight for a national championship; it is a time for big-time stars to show what they can do on the big stage.

Most college basketball players have already shown what they are capable of throughout the year. Indiana stars Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are unlikely to help or hurt their projected draft stock due to their overall consistency.

However, there are still a bunch of likely first-round picks who could still affect their perception over the next couple of weeks. Specifically, these men have a big opportunity in the next round to show off what they can do.


Ben McLemore, Kansas

Since Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL, Ben McLemore has been projected by many to be the top overall pick in the upcoming draft. At the very least, he is a virtual lock to be picked in the top five.

However, the last few weeks has caused some concern. The freshman has struggled to score, totaling only 18 points in the last three games combined, well below his average of 15.8 points per game.

In two tournament games, McLemore has made only two of his 14 field-goal attempts and he has not made a single shot from behind the arc.

The guard's natural scoring ability is what has scouts excited about his potential. However, for the first time he is showing signs of inconsistency and struggles against athletic opponents.

Against Michigan, McLemore will face a very quick and athletic backcourt. He must show that he can get points against elite teams. Otherwise, general managers will pass on a player that cannot get it done on a big stage.


Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

When you look at some numbers for Michael Carter-Williams, you understand why he is a projected lottery pick. The 6'6" point guard has great size for the position and finished third in the nation with 7.6 assists per game.

Unfortunately, he is also incredibly inefficient when looking for his own shot. He is shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range and less than 40 percent overall.

Things should get even tougher in his next game against Indiana. The Hoosiers have a small backcourt, but they have some of the best athletes and on-ball defenders in the country.

If coach Tom Crean chooses to put Oladipo on the point guard, it will be a very good indication as to what he will be able to accomplish at the next level.

Carter-Williams has cut down his shot attempts since the beginning of the postseason (6.2 per game in the Big East and NCAA tournaments compared to 9.7 for the year). However, he must show that this is not just a fluke.

Win or lose, the sophomore guard must play efficiently and show that he can remain in control against a tough opponent.


Gary Harris, Michigan State

It is unknown whether Gary Harris will declare for the NBA draft after this season, but more performances like his last game will not keep him around for too much longer.

The freshman guard scored 23 points in Michigan State's win over Memphis while hitting four of his seven shots from the outside. He showed shooting ability and athleticism, as well as good defense on some talented players.

Of course, Duke presents a much tougher challenge in the next round. The Blue Devils are very well-coached and can rotate quickly to open shooters. They are also one of the best in the country at defending the perimeter, as evident by holding Creighton to 2-of-19 shooting from three-point range.

Harris is a little undersized for the position, and he might struggle to get his shot off in this game. If this happens, it is something that could cause concerns for NBA scouts.

On the other hand, a big game will show that he is ready for the next level and should be taken in the lottery.


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