NCAA Bracket 2010 Update: 10 Guys Who Hurt/Helped Their NBA Draft Stock
Now that the first weekend of the NCAA tournament has given new definition to the nickname "March Madness," it's time to step back and survey the damage.
As profiled last week, the NCAAs have always been a hallowed ground for NBA draft prospects to make a lasting impact on scouts.
Guys like Mike Conley Jr. come out of nowhere and establish themselves as high draft picks by leading their teams further than anyone could have reasonably expected. Happens every year, and this year's no different. (See: a certain 6'11" star of St. Mary's.)
But with the bracket-busting upset specials that went down this past weekend, a number of guys' college careers ended a little more prematurely than anyone could have predicted. For players who NBA scouts have been on the fence about, an early-round tournament KO never helps their NBA draft stock.
Let's check out five guys who helped their NBA draft stock this past weekend, and five guys who probably wish they could take a Hot Tub Time Machine back to last Thursday.
Hurt: Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)
It's hard to think of a player who did more damage to his NBA draft stock this weekend than Scottie Reynolds.
Reynolds, who was being discussed as a lottery pick had he jumped from college after his freshman year, now stands zero chance of being drafted in the first round. In fact, there's a solid chance he goes undrafted.
Scouts have found more and more to pick apart about Reynolds' game, but the biggest criticism about him is his tendency to become a volume shooter.
In a closer-than-expected win over No. 15 Robert Morris on Thursday, Reynolds finished with 20 points...but only connected on two of 15 baskets. (He finished 15-of-16 at the free throw line to make up the difference.)
Reynolds followed Thursday's poor shooting performance with a 2-of-11 game against St. Mary's, in which the No. 10 Gaels upset 'Nova to move on to the Sweet 16.
This is Scottie Reynolds we're talking about—the same guy who flashed down the court and hit a game-winning layup in the Elite Eight last season. He finishes his college career going 4-of-26 on the weekend, and his team gets knocked out by a No. 10 seed?
Reynolds did nothing to help his draft stock this weekend, and the fact that 'Nova struggled so mightily against two large underdogs sure didn't help either.
Despite Reynolds' incredible college career, NBA scouts will likely proceed with extreme caution when considering him as a draft pick.
Helped: Omar Samhan (St. Mary's)
From the Twitter feed of ESPN's Chad Ford, about St. Mary's forward Omar Samhan: Having great tournament. Skilled big man. No lift at all. 2nd Rd...Having said that, Samham in the 2nd round is a BIG improvement in his draft stock. No GMs had him in their top 60.
That right there is how to summarize Samhan's quickly rising draft status in 280 characters.
Samhan burst onto the national stage on Saturday, having his way with anyone and anything Villanova threw at him in one of the tournament's biggest upsets so far.
"We tried every person," 'Nova coach Jay Wright said. "We tried doubling him. We tried fronting him. He's a great player, but you've got to give their team credit. They found him every way. Whatever we did, they had an answer for."
That's an understatement. Sanham bullied his way inside the entire game, dominating Villanova's freshman post players like they were on the high school JV team. He scored 32 points—one shy of his career high—to go along with seven rebounds and a block against the Wildcats.
For Samhan to even be in the NBA draft discussion after this weekend is a credit to the huge weekend he just had. Welcome to the top 60, Omar.
Hurt: James Anderson (Oklahoma State)
James Anderson entered March Madness as the nation's third-leading scorer, and just one week ago, I predicted he'd be one of the 10 guys to make/break their NBA draft stock in the tournament.
After a poop-in-your-pants performance in Oklahoma State's first round loss against Ga. Tech, a game in which Anderson only scored 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting, consider his draft stock temporarily broken.
Anderson entered the tournament with a reputation as a one-dimensional player who didn't do anything spectacular besides scoring. Guys like that flame out of the NBA on a yearly basis.
Before the tournament, ESPN's Chad Ford said, "The difference between Anderson and James Harden (the No. 3 pick in the draft last year) isn't that huge." Ford had him listed as "late lottery to mid-first round" when he last updated on March 16.
Now? Anderson struggled to get loose against the big men of Georgia Tech, including fellow lottery favorite Derrick Favors. Anderson's rough night definitely cost him the lottery, and likely much more.
Despite his scoring acumen, Anderson will be in a dogfight to be drafted in the first round after the loss to Georgia Tech.
Helped: Wes Johnson (Syracuse)
Of all the potential top-10 picks in this year's upcoming draft, Wes Johnson capitalized the most during the first weekend of March Madness. As a result, he's become a top-five lock at this point.
Johnson came into the tournament as the best swingman in the country behind Ohio State's Evan Turner, but an injury to his hand had been hampering his play for the past month.
(As well, a nasty cut to his eye, which Johnson suffered against Georgetown in the Big East tournament, left Syracuse fans worried that their star wouldn't be running at 100 percent.)
No worries, Orange faithful. Johnson dropped a stat-stuffing line of 18 points, six rebounds, three three-pointers, three assists, three steals, and two blocks against Vermont in 'Cuse's first round game and followed it with a career-high 31 points, 14 rebounds, four three-pointers, and a block in Syracuse's rout of Gonzaga yesterday.
Johnson put every facet of his all-around game on display this weekend.
Want me to facilitate the offense, Vermont? Okay. Need me to take over the game at a critical time against you, Gonzaga? No sweat.
Johnson did everything he could to prevent Syracuse from suffering a Kansas-like meltdown, and he locked himself into being a high lottery pick in the process.
Hurt: Sherron Collins (Kansas)
In that aforementioned "10 Players Who Will Make/Break Their Draft Stock" slideshow, I wrote the following about Sherron Collins:
If Collins can lead Kansas, the prohibitive title favorite, back to the NCAA championship game, his name will shoot up the draft board like Mario Chalmers' did after his miracle three-pointer against Memphis two years ago.
I didn't count on Kansas being knocked out in the second round.
Chad Ford's take back on Dec. 18: "He's a definite candidate for the first round, but will probably need to lead Kansas to a title in an effort to secure it."
Um...ruh-roh, Shaggy. Collins shot 4-of-15 in Kansas' second-round loss to Northern Iowa, as he missed all six of his three-point attempts and turned the ball over five times in the process.
Collins was already an undersized guard (5'11") with a repeated habit of falling out of shape in the offseason. After a terrible performance in his much-earlier-than-expected final game of college ball, he cost himself any chance of being a first round draft pick.
Helped: Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky)
For a guy who may stand to benefit from staying one more year (to emerge from the shadow of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins), Eric Bledsoe appeared intent on reminding viewers that Kentucky's phenom freshman class runs deeper than just those two.
Bledsoe redefined lights-out shooting in Kentucky's 100-71 first-round win over East Tennessee State, as he shot 9-of-11 overall, including 8-of-9 from downtown. (He also chipped in three rebounds, an assist, four steals, and a block in only 31 minutes.)
For a Kentucky team looking for a consistent three-point threat as they advance deeper into the tournament, Bledsoe may have just answered Big Blue fans' prayers this weekend.
Bledsoe continued his efficient play in the Wildcats' 90-60 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, as he knocked down six of nine shots for 13 points (including a three-pointer) to go with two rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
West Virginia continued to win on their side of the bracket, and they're a Sweet 16 matchup with Washington away from an absolute slugfest with Kentucky in the Elite Eight.
If Bledsoe can keep knocking down outside shots and the Wildcats roll on to the Final Four (or the NCAA title), Bledsoe will be a guaranteed lottery pick this season.
It's conceivable that the first two point guards off the board this summer come from the same team: Kentucky.
Hurt: Darington Hobson (New Mexico)
Had Darington Hobson led his Lobos to the Sweet 16 into a matchup with West Virginia, he could have challenged for being a lottery pick.
After watching his No. 3 seed team get knocked out by No. 11 Washington in a blowout, Hobson's likely locked himself into being a late first-rounder. (Not such a bad consolation prize, but not what he could have been with a great tournament.)
Hobson entered the NCAA tournament as New Mexico's leading scorer, knocking down 15.9 points per game. He's got an all-around game that leads to comparisons of him being a poor man's Evan Turner, capable of playing three different positions on the court.
Hobson got it going against Montana in New Mexico's first-round game, putting together an 11-point, 11-rebound, six-assist, and two-steal effort in a 62-57 tougher-than-expected nail-biter.
But things fell apart for New Mexico on all fronts against Washington, and an 11-point, nine-rebound, four-turnover day for Hobson contributed to New Mexico's flameout in the second round. (Perhaps coach Steve Alford, who had won one NCAA tournament game in the past 11 years, also had something to do with the loss.)
Hobson's inability to hang tough with a major conference team likely cost him any shot he could have had at being a lottery pick this June.
Helped: Kyle Singler (Duke)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit: I predicted Singler to go from college star to NBA bust whenever he decides to leave Duke.
He's used the past few weeks to prove why he could be more than an one-dimensional perimeter shooter in the NBA.
Singler's been on an absolute scoring tear as of late and continued that momentum into the NCAA tournament. In Duke's first-round game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (the play-in game winner), Singler led all scorers with 22 points, including three three-pointers, and he added 10 rebounds on the day.
Singler cooled off from downtown in Duke's second round game against Cal (only going 1-of-6), but his 6-of-12 overall still allowed him a 17-point, five-rebound, three-assist, two-block kind of night. Not too shabby in its own right.
Singler's going to make his money in the NBA for being a shooter more than anything else. For him to be lighting up the nets in the NCAA Tournament like he has been, he'll be drawing more and more scouts' attention in the coming weeks.
Singler can likely break into the end of the first round of the draft if he can guide Duke past Purdue and either St. Mary's or Baylor to the Final Four.
Hurt: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
Much like Scottie Reynolds, Luke Harangody's phenomenal college career went out with a flash and not nearly the bang that would be expected of one of the Big East's best players in the past five years.
In Old Dominion's first-round upset of Notre Dame, Harangody finished with 2-of-9 shooting, good for a total of four points, and seven rebounds in 23 minutes of play.
Harangody had been working his way back into Notre Dame's lineup after missing a few games in February with a foot injury; the problem was, Notre Dame suddenly reeled off their hottest streak of the season with Harangody riding pine. (Ewing Theory, anyone?)
Granted, Harangody wasn't the only poor shooting culprit in the Irish's loss to the Monarchs: Tim Abromaitis finished 4-of-11, Tory Jackson shot 2-of-11, and Tyrone Nash missed both the shots he took.
But Harangody's NBA draft margin for error was already thin-to-none. Chad Ford currently has Harangody ranked No. 105...and that was before the tournament started.
Harangody's main draft hopes were based on leading the Irish to a deep tournament run; with a first-round KO, Harangody's draft chances likely died in the process.
What a shocking end for last year's Big East Player of the Year.
Helped: Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia)
It may be strange to say a guy who scored a whopping nine points in his first-round game "helped" his draft stock...that is, until he dropped 28 in the second round to bail his team out of a brewing upset.
After leading WVU to the Big East tournament title and earning BET MVP in the process, Da'Sean Butler demonstrated his increased maturity this past weekend in leading his Mountaineers to the Sweet 16.
In WVU's first-round game against Morgan State, the Bears sold out on Butler on defense, making sure that he wasn't the one that killed 'em. They coaxed Butler into a relatively poor shooting night, as he only finished 4-of-11...but he managed to contribute six rebounds, three assists, five steals, and most importantly, zero turnovers.
Butler played his game, got his teammates involved, and didn't force anything; WVU coasted to a 27-point win.
"We had a good team last year, but everybody was so young. I kind of felt I had to do a lot more," Butler said after the game. "But this year I have a team. Everybody's mature. ... It's a lot easier for me to go out there and play."
But when the Mountaineers started off cold in the second round against No. 10 seed Missouri, Butler came out scorching to keep his team in the game. He scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half, accounting for nearly two-thirds of WVU's 30 first-half points.
"He stepped up to the plate and put his stamp on the game," Mizzou senior guard J.T. Tiller said. Teammate Darryl "Truck" Bryant called Butler "the Magic Man."
After his Big East tournament run, Butler's continued his hot streak going into March, and he's surging up draft boards as a result. What team doesn't want a guy who's already knocked down six game-winners this season?
Helped AND Hurt: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Had I written this on Friday, Jimmer Fredette would have led the list for guys who had helped their draft stock. Then Kansas State happened.
In the first round, Fredette announced his arrival to the NCAA tournament, conjuring memories of mid-major darling Stephen Curry with a 37-point performance in BYU's double-overtime win against Florida.
Fredette scored at will against the Gators, and once Florida's Kenny Boynton fouled out, the Gators couldn't keep up with Fredette's prolific scoring touch.
Fredette, who averaged 22.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game this season coming out of the Mountain West Conference, finished with 37/2/3, including two assists and a block.
All was well in Fredette draft-land, and had BYU been able to overtake K-State in the second round, they would have had a Sweet 16 date with Butler in Salt Lake City.
That is, until Fredette ran into K-State's Jacob Pullen. Pullen got loose for a career-high 34 points against BYU, but more importantly, he harassed Fredette into a 5-of-13 shooting day with extremely physical defense.
Fredette didn't have an answer for K-State's suffocating defense all day and never could get into the shooting rhythm that he found against the Gators.
With his inability to guide his highly-touted team into the Sweet 16, Fredette managed to draw all the scouts' heads after his first game, only to fade away in the second-round loss.
Breakout MVP of the Tournament: Lucas O'Rear
Look at those mutton chops, man. 'Nuff said.
No one told me that Kansas was going against X-Men's Wolverine in the second round. Had I known that, maybe I wouldn't have picked them as my national champion.
Maybe I wouldn't be sitting here exactly one week into March Madness with absolutely no hope for my bracket. (Thanks, Northern Iowa!)
Now, the only thing I can cheer on is Mr. O'Rear's sideburns. Job well done, sir.
I can't even hate you for knocking out my champion, because I'm truly just jealous of your wicked burns.
I'm going to go start a write-in campaign to have the Sixers sign you as an undrafted free agent.