NCAA Tournament 2013: NBA Prospects Who Have Helped Their Draft Stocks

Ryan DavenportContributor IApril 7, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals talks with Russ Smith #2 in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Georgia Dome on April 6, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In general, March Madness is a time for college standouts to leave a lasting impression on NBA scouts because it's realistically the last opportunity for prospects to make their cases in legitimate game situations before the draft. 

This year's NCAA tournament has been dominated by upsets, which has taken away from the performances of many elite players on perceived front-runners. Nevertheless, there are a number of players that have bolstered their NBA draft prospects with strong performances this month.  

Here's a look at some of the standouts that have strengthened their cases to be first-rounders through their play at the Big Dance. 


Michael Carter-Williams 

As the No. 13 pick in Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports' latest mock draft, Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams has long since cemented himself as a surefire first-rounder. 

But since the beginning of the tournament, the sophomore has been dominant for the Orange, helping No. 4 Syracuse emerge as the victor from the East Region. 

At this point, Carter-Williams has all but solidified his status as a lottery pick, because quite simply, guards who are capable of throwing down 24 points, nine assists or eight rebounds on any given night will always be high in demand. 

In particular, the 6'6" Massachusetts native's performance in Syracuse's Elite Eight win over No. 3 Marquette stands out as a game that could propel him into the top 10. 


Tim Hardaway Jr. 

As the third-best prospect on a surging Michigan Wolverines team, Tim Hardaway Jr. has vaulted himself into first-round contention after helping the blue and gold to a rather unlikely Final Four appearance. 

During the opening round, Hardaway was at his best, putting up 21 points for the Wolverines against South Dakota St. while Trey Burke had a tough day from the field. 

No, he's not a guarantee to be a star in the NBA like Burke or Glenn Robinson III, but he's still worth taking a flier on late in Round 1. 


Russ Smith 

As the best player on the consensus favorite to win the national title, one would think that Russ Smith would be garnering more interest in NBA circles. 

However, at least according to CBS Sports' projections, Smith won't even be drafted, despite posting nearly 19 points per game for a very strong Louisville squad. 

Ultimately, Smith's diminutive frame may keep him from being taken in the draft, but it won't matter, as his collegiate career will earn him at least a free-agent look from a team in need of offensive help.