I learn more about NBA hopefuls during the NCAA tournament than I do during the scouting combine.
There is no simulation for game action, and the tournament provides top-notch competition and clutch situations that put players on the type of stage they will see in the NBA.
Every March there are players whose names weren't on the tips of every draft prognosticator's tongue heading into the tournament. But by the Sweet 16, they are officially hot topics as it relates to the NBA draft.
Here are two sleepers whose stock has risen since the tournament began, and one international player who could be rising up draft boards shortly.
Shot-blocking big men will always get general managers' attention. You can't teach size, and even more, you can't teach great timing when it comes to shot-blocking.
Withey has plenty of both.
At a legit 7'0", he is athletic for a big man, though he is not freakish like DeAndre Jordan.
Nevertheless, the senior was a shot-blocking machine during the tournament.
He blocked 17 shots in three games, averaging just under six per contest. That is insanely productive and should earn him All-Tournament Team consideration, despite being bounced in the Sweet 16.
He didn't just block shots, though.
Withey also scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game. Most would have called him a late first-round pick a month ago, but now he has to be seriously considered at the end of the lottery.
Trey Burke will get a ton of the credit for Michigan's run to the Final Four, and rightfully so, but perhaps the biggest key to the team's success has been the improved play of McGary.
He was a highly-touted freshman at the beginning of the year, but he struggled a bit with consistency.
So far, McGary has averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He has out-worked other big men and he has shown tremendous speed up the court in offensive and defensive transition.
He'll be 21 in June, so he isn't an especially young freshman.
At 6'10" with above-average athleticism, he has already done enough to be selected at the end of the first round, and he wasn't even on most draft boards coming into the tournament.
Per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, McGary plans to return for his sophomore year, but things have a way of changing once a player hears where he could be drafted from a trusted source.
There is one sleeper who did not play in the NCAA tournament. Adetokunbo, who was born in Greece to Nigerian parents, is the hottest international name this draft season.
He's a 6'9" perimeter player who has reportedly grown three inches in three months, per Marc Amposta of Tubasket.com. In the videos available he shows good vision and the ability to put the ball on the floor:
It is hard to make a lot out of what we see here, but I'll make one observation that must be kept in the proper context: His movements remind me a lot of Magic Johnson.
Obviously, I'm not making that lofty comparison at this ridiculously early stage of the evaluation process, but it is worth noting.
NBADraft.net currently has him listed at No. 18, but he is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
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