Florida vs. UConn: Top Pro Prospects to Watch in NCAA Semifinal

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIApril 3, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28:  Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

College basketball fans will have their eyes glued to the Final Four this weekend and the national championship on Monday. But NBA scouts will also be paying close attention to the top prospects still remaining.

Many of the most highly regarded individual talents have seen their teams eliminated, but there are still a few players with a good chance to be taken in the first round of the draft in June.

The Florida Gators-UConn Huskies matchup doesn't have the can't-miss star prospect involved, but there are still some interesting players. Here's a look at the three most promising prospects—all seniors—from this national semifinal.


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Shabazz Napier

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28:  Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies handles the ball against Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2
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NBA scouts and experts still seem to be a bit divided on Napier's draft stock. He's played great during the tournament, averaging 23.2 points and six rebounds per game, but that doesn't automatically mean he'll be a great—or even good—NBA player.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express was asked his opinion on Napier after the latter scored 24 points against St. Joseph's in the second round. This was his response:

You might wonder why Givony would react that way to a 24-point performance. All 24-point games are not created equal. If you saw the game against St. Joseph's, you noticed Napier struggled mightily from the field early.

He made just 7-of-22 shots overall. He also made some bad decisions with the ball. Still, he came up big at the end, and on that platform, that was all that mattered.

Scouts will look deeper.

Can Napier be a true point guard in the NBA? Is he quick enough to beat NBA players off the dribble as regularly as he beats them in college? Will he be a serviceable defender in the NBA? 

Lastly, he's more of a scorer than a shooter, meaning he needs a lot of shots to get going. Will that opportunity exist in the NBA as a late first-round or early second-round pick?

These questions won't be answered definitively until he's actually in the NBA, but Napier is no future star. He could be a solid scorer off the bench for a team that needs that punch from the backcourt, but anyone projecting him to be more than a rich man's Jannero Pargo is a prisoner of the moment.

Napier could very well go off for a huge game against Florida. That would make the concept of this assessment seem even more startling, but like Givony, it wouldn't change the bottom line.


Scottie Wilbekin

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators celebrates after hitting a three pointer to end the first half against the Dayton Flyers during the south regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the FedExForum on M
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There are some players who are just great college performers and fringe NBA players, or even guys that will spend the majority of their professional careers overseas.

Wilbekin looks like one of those guys.

He has exceptional leadership skills, and he plays very good defense within Florida's philosophy on that end of the court.

However, Wilbekin doesn't have the offensive game to be more than a role player in the NBA. He lacks the lateral quickness to beat guys off the dribble at the next level. He does have great vision, but without elite speed, he'll have an issue creating off the bounce.

Still, the matchup between Wilbekin and Napier is going to be a great one, though they may not see much of each other on the next level.


Patric Young

John Bazemore

If Young gets the opportunity in the NBA, he could become a valuable rotational big. He certainly has the bulk and strength. You've heard people say a hoops prospect has an NBA body. Well, Young has an NFL body, so there's no problems with physicality.

From the looks of the video below, Young on the gridiron has already been considered.

However, aside from the ability to rise and finish with power near the basket, he does lack any real offensive skills.

Because he's a senior and this aspect of his game has yet to develop, it seems as if he may be near his ceiling in that regard. Because he is so strong and long at 6'9" with a 7'1" wingspan, he has the makings of a good-to-great low-post defender.

His ability to handle guys on the block and shut down driving lanes anchors Florida's stifling defense. Young will need to do that against UConn and Napier on Saturday night to win. 

The NBA has room for defensive-minded bigs like Young. Players like Reggie Evans come to mind as a solid comparison, although Young is a better athlete.


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