NBA Draft 2014: College Stars Scouts Are Taking Notice of During Postseason

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IApril 2, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 30:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 75 to 72 in the midwest regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Postseason tournaments are a time when the best teams step up under the game's brightest lights.

Even though the focus is typically on the greatest teams, individual players are the focus for scouts and NBA executives looking to make a splash in the 2014 NBA draft.

With names like Julius Randle being talked about throughout the entire season, the Kentucky big man is simply making more of a case to remain a consideration at the top of draft boards. As for players like Shabazz Napier, the UConn guard has become a hot commodity purely for his leadership and elite shooting skills he's shown in the NCAA tournament.

But the NCAA tournament isn't the only postseason in college basketball. The NIT also presents a few players with NBA potential, and none more so than K.J. McDaniels of Clemson. While the Tigers are out of the NIT after losing to SMU, the junior did more than enough to show his potential to scouts.

All three players have the potential to go in the first round on June 26, but also have a chance to make a name for themselves in the coming days. Here's a breakdown of each prospect and where they stand ahead of the final games of the season.


Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 28:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates defeating the Louisville Cardinals 74 to 69 during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 28, 2014 in Indianapol
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's been an up-and-down season for the Wildcats, but there's clearly been a lot of great things going on for the program as it made its way to the Final Four for the third time in the last four years.

Much of that success is due to Randle.

The 6'9", 250-pound forward has been dominant in the paint for Kentucky throughout the NCAA tournament. With a double-double in every game throughout the Big Dance, Randle has proven that he can get the job done against even the best teams at the college level.

Though he's shown the talent on the biggest stage, Randle has been putting up big numbers all season for the Wildcats, as ESPN College BBall points out:

But shining in the NCAA tournament means that scouts take more notice. Every game is front and center, and with less teams participating in March Madness, the biggest prospects remaining garner even more attention.

According to one veteran scout, no prospect flourished more during March than the big man, per Adam Zagoria of

With that type of momentum solely coming out of the NCAA tournament, there's no telling how much farther Randle's star can rise as he goes through workouts and scouts get a chance to see his skill up close and personal.

While he was already considered a high lottery pick before the tournament ever started, Randle has both solidified that assessment and shown that he might be even more valuable to a team at the next level.


K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 08:  The Cameron Crazies taunt K.J. McDaniels #32 of the Clemson Tigers as he prepares to inbound the ball against the Duke Blue Devils during play at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 8, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 68-40
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

He may not be playing on as big of a stage as the likes of Randle or Napier, but McDaniels certainly made plenty of waves with his play in the NIT for the Tigers.

The forward can do just about anything thanks to his size and toughness. While he plays offense like a small forward, the defense that he brings to the table makes him as valuable an asset as any at the next level.

Steven Bradley of Orange: The Experience provides a look at McDaniels' ability to block shots at will in the post:

Later in the game, the Clemson star garnered a few more blocks to show off his repertoire on that side of the court. Clemson Basketball shares just how significant the defensive numbers are for the school as a whole:

But defense isn't the only significant part for the small forward, he can shoot it, too. McDaniels is Clemson's leading scorer with 17.0 points per game and its leading rebounder with seven per game.

As a junior with the Tigers, he could decide to stay for his final season and come out when this year's class is gone. The all-around presence that McDaniels brings to the court has helped him rise in the rankings, making his decision a very difficult one.


Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies cuts down the net after defeating the Michigan State Spartans to win the East Regional Final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2014 in
Elsa/Getty Images

When it comes to rising stars throughout the postseason tournaments, no name has become more talked about than Napier's.

The UConn guard has drawn comparisons to another former Huskie in Kemba Walker as a floor general and for his ability to carry a team all the way to the top of college basketball. The senior guard still has a lot to prove, though, as he sits on the outside of the first round, according to CBS Sports mock drafts.

With the Final Four coming up this weekend for the sharpshooting guard, Napier has several more opportunities to prove his worth to scouts. If Napier somehow leads the Huskies to another national championship, the comparisons to Walker won't go away.

Napier's ability at the college level is proving useful for UConn and could help a potential playoff team at the end of the first round if he continues to dominate in the NCAA tournament.


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