NCAA Tournament 2013: Prospects Who Have Played Their Way onto Scouts' Radars

Ryan DavenportContributor IMarch 30, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Michigan Wolverines drives against Travis Releford #24 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Most of the time, the standouts at the NCAA tournament are guys who have long established themselves as blue-chip prospects and surefire lottery selections. 

But the beauty of March Madness is that while most of the time the players and teams that are supposed to dominate do just that, sometimes things don't go according to plan and unlikely heroes emerge. 

Thus far, there have been a virtually unprecedented number of upsets in the first four rounds of the tournament, and even among players on contending teams, a handful of lesser-known prospects have forced NBA scouts to take a second look at them after strong performances at the Big Dance. 



Shane Larkin


Heading into the tournament, the son of Hall of Fame baseball player Barry Larkin wasn't necessarily a slam dunk to be drafted at all in June, as CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman had Larkin at No. 44 among all draft prospects. 

However, Larkin stunned the basketball world with a string of strong performances at the Big Dance that showed his versatility as an offensive threat for the Hurricanes. 

In the first round, when his shot wasn't falling, Larkin dished out nine dimes in addition to 10 points, and followed that up with a pair of strong performances for Miami, leading the school deep into the tournament for the first time in over a decade. 

He might not be a surefire first-rounder, but Larkin has certainly improved his draft stock this month. The only question is whether he'll remain at the U. 



Tim Hardaway Jr. 


With much of the attention on Michigan's Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been able to fly under the radar for much of the season, but during the Wolverines' opening-round game against South Dakota State, Burke was a non-factor, and Hardaway Jr. took over. 

Along with Robinson, Hardaway Jr. (ranked 83rd overall on DraftExpress' 2013 rankings) carried the blue and gold to victory, and though Burke has been the team's offensive engine since then, Hardaway Jr. made a strong case for himself to be a potential late first-rounder or early second-rounder.

He's not fully developed, but he has the raw talent and quickness to be an impact guy at the next level, and one has to wonder how much he'd stand out on a team that didn't feature two other surefire NBA players. 



Russ Smith


It's amazing that Russ Smith wasn't higher on scouts' lists after being the best offensive weapon on a No. 1 seed, but at least according to some, such as HoopsHype, he's a borderline draft pick. 

However, after leading Louisville deep into the tournament with some virtuoso performances, Smith most certainly will have some scouts pondering whether he'd be worth taking a flier on sometime early in the second round because he's demonstrated an ability to be a go-to scorer in clutch situations. 

Against Oregon in the Sweet 16, Smith went off on the No. 12 Ducks with 31 points on 9-of-16 shooting after scoring 27 points including 4-of-7 from behind the arc against Colorado State in the round of 32. 



Trevor Mbakwe

As part of Minnesota's surprising upset over No. 6 UCLA in the first round, Mbakwe had a monster game against the Bruins, hauling in 11 boards and nine points on 4-of-7 shooting for the Golden Gophers. 

Then, in his next game against Florida, Mbakwe came up with another strong performance, tallying 11 points and six boards against the No. 3 Gators. 

Though the senior forward might be a late second-rounder, he showed enough athleticism and earned some late attention from scouts.