NCAA Tournament 2014: Top Pro Prospects to Watch in Elite 8

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIMarch 28, 2014

Arizona forward Aaron Gordon reacts after scoring a basket while playing Gonzaga during the first half of a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Denis Poroy

The NCAA Tournament can make or break a player's pro prospects. Have a great tournament and watch your stock skyrocket. Choke under pressure and watch your stock plummet. 

All eyes are on these prospects, which is why the tournament is so important for their stock. It's even more important when a player gets deep into the tournament.

So as we enter into the Elite Eight, it's time to take a close look at some of the top prospects in the round.

What is their stock and what should you expect from them the rest of the tournament?

Read on to find out.


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Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 28: Sam Dekker #15 of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots a two pointer during the first half of play against the Prairie View A&M Panthers at Kohl Center on December 28, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Shooters are valuable commodities in the NBA, and that's what Dekker does. While he is only shooting 32.0 percent from the three-point line, he did shoot 39.1 percent last season.

The 6'7" sophomore is athletic enough to create his own shot, but he probably profiles as a corner shooter off the bounce.

Matt Moore of CBS Sports says he can be used at a number of positions:

He's a shooter, no question about that. The sophomore can shoot from range and should be an easy plug-in at the NBA level once he gets his strength and defense up to speed. He shot 39 percent from three last year and his numbers shouldn't fluctuate much once he reaches the pro level. He's versatile and is probably big enough to be used in small-ball lineups as a stretch four.

He does have limitations on defense, something Wisconsin assistant coach Lamont Paris detailed to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

On ball, off the ball help... recognizing who you're guarding and whether you can slough off to help a teammate. It's paying attention to detail in the scouting report. ... With his length and agility and ability to change directions, he should be [an above-average defender]. At one point in his career when you say his name, you should be able to think: 'That guy is a good defender.' That's not the first thing that comes to your mind.

That's a refreshingly honest assessment, and if Dekker can't defend, he won't see the floor at the next level, no matter how well he shoots.

If he can shoot well in the Elite Eight—and potentially beyond—then Dekker's stock should shoot up. But if he struggles defensively against an athletic Arizona team, he might be better served by staying another year in Madison.


Aaron Gordon, Arizona

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 27:  Aaron Gordon #11 of the Arizona Wildcats smiles in the second half while taking on the San Diego State Aztecs during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Honda Center on March 27, 2014 in Anah
Harry How/Getty Images

Aaron Gordon has it all. The 6'9" forward is a thinner version of Blake Griffin, albeit with better ball-handling skills.

He can impact the game is so many ways, but he may make his biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor.

As Myron Medcalf of noted:

It's easy to fall in love with his athleticism and his high-flying dunks, but a player with his intensity and wingspan on defense will make him a star. Watch closely as he covers guys like Sam Dekker. It is quite possible that Gordon simply shuts him down. He has the ability to cover four positions and, assuming he declares for the NBA Draft, will instantly become one of the best wing defenders in the league.

He does need to bulk up, as he's a bit thin, weighing in at only 210 pounds. Blake Griffin, by comparison, is 251 pounds. But he will bulk up once he enters an NBA weight room. Gordon has star written all over him, especially on defense, and his high-flying dunks will make him a fan favorite. 


Patric Young, Florida

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 22:  Patric Young #4 of the Florida Gators dunks the ball in the second half while taking on the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 22, 2014 in Orlando, Flor
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you want to know what Patric Young can do, watch this:

Talk about finishing with authority. That's what the 6'9", 249-pound power forward does best. As Kyle Nelson of DraftExpress notes:

Where Young is dominant, however, is when he doesn't have to create his own shot. He runs the floor hard and throws down acrobatic dunks in transition while also showing the ability to finish off cuts to the basket. He is also a good offensive rebounder and he finds quite a few shots by outhustling his man in traffic and tipping in his teammates' misses. He also shows some potential as a finisher in the pick-and-roll, where he rolls to the basket extremely quickly and often finishes with an emphatic dunk. This aspect of his game, in particular, is where Amar'e Stoudemire comparisons seem most apt and scouts will be watching to see if he can further develop in this area.

Having a big, physical forward scream down the lane to finish on a dunk is very valuable, and it is that skill that once made Amar'e Stoudemire one of the best players in the game.

Young is not as good a prospect as Stoudemire was, but he brings that type of offensive flair. It will be interesting to see if he can use the Elite Eight—and perhaps beyond—to boost his draft stock. Probably a borderline first-rounder, if Young comes up big in the Elite Eight and if Florida wins, Young could find himself as a lottery pick.