For those of you that don’t know, this past weekend was the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, meaning we are officially in March Madness friends.
And with all these stellar college studs playing lights out, it’s almost impossible to not look to their futures in the NBA.
While some, like John Wall and Evan Turner are locks to be picked high in the NBA draft, other players are now on the NBA radar due to their strong play in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.
Thanks to the hard working people at Draft Express, this list has been compiled of the 10 players that NBA teams now know, and some they already did.
Omar Samhan is a 6’11” 265 pound senior center out of tournament surprise St. Mary’s.
Through two games, he’s the leading scorer of the NCAA Tournament, at 30.5 points per game. Samhan loves to play in the post, and according to Draft Express, he gets 60 percent of his touches in the post, but he’s also difficult to guard since he can shoot close jumpers well.
And when it comes to footwork, ESPN said he has the best moves for a big man currently in the NBA.
On defense, Samhan’s biggest strength is giving energy especially on the glass, as he’s averaged 9.5 boards in the tourney.
But he’s not without weaknesses as well—Samhan lacks the ups to play above the rim and the quickness to stay in front of quicker defenders, something he’ll find in the NBA.
Still, in a league that’s seeing less and less true big men, Samhan could find a spot in the NBA next year.
Jimmer Fredette is a relative unknown in the college basketball world, that is until recently.
Fredette, who’s hometown is Salt Lake City, Utah, is the second leading scorer in the tourney so far. His 29 points per game have been dominant, and much of it is due to his solid shooting. Fredette has made 46.2 percent of his shots, and he’s sank a tournament best 18 free throws as well.
And while he’s a great shooter, especially from the perimeter (44.6 percent), his ball handling skills are questionable and he will need to work on them or turn the ball over lots at the next level.
Although, this 6’2” 200 pound point guard that averages 5.7 assists per game should be able to find a spot on an NBA team, if he declares for the draft after this, his junior year.
Louis Dale may have been the second best scorer with Cornell during the regular season (12.6), but during the tournament this senior is raising his draft stock quickly. He’s scored 23.5 points per game and will have to continue that great play if Cornell hopes to advance past Kentucky.
Yes, Dale is a mere 5’11” 180 pounds, but he has a great shooter’s touch (46.9 percent), and he passes adeptly at 4.8 dimes per.
Let’s face it, Dale is a stretch to make the NBA, but starting this magical run has definitely put him on the big league’s radar. If their run ends with Kentucky, his draft dreams will likely end as well.
This junior has played well in the tournament so far, at 15 points per game, including 20 points against California in the second round. Smith has also passed for 3.5 assists per while giving strong effort on the defensive end.
Plus, Smith has been named to the Team USA tryout team for the 2016 Olympics.
It should be noted that he will likely stay in school for his senior season, as many Duke players do, and his draft stock may rise by doing so. Although, if Duke were to win a championship, it would be worth taking a look at least.
Jordan Crawford is a beast of a shooting guard for Xavier, and his 24.7 points per game during the season made him one of the NCAA’s best scorers.
Plus, Crawford was filmed dunking over LeBron James in a pickup game this summer.
In the tournament, he’s third best in points per at 27.5, for those that have played in two games. And his nine three-pointers made are good for second in the tourney so far.
And even though he is a star scorer, he ball hogs to a fault.
While his scoring has been top-notch, his mechanics and lack of size are both big questions that may make this 6’4” 200 pound sophomore fall out of the draft.
Johnson, the 6’7” 200 pound small forward is playing out of his mind as his 24.5 points per game is up eight points over the regular season. He shows his versatility well, making seven shots from downtown while playing on the inside with strength.
To wit, in the regular season, Johnson shot 59 percent from inside the arc and 46 percent outside.
He may not be a smaller Carmelo Anthony type, or then again he may be. Plus, he plays solid defense already, but he needs to add some weight in a hurry.
Wesley Johnson is projected to be a combo forward and go in the top 10 in this year’s NBA Draft.
Lost in the hoopla that surround Evan Turner, junior Jon Diebler is playing sky-high in the tourney.
Diebler’s 21.5 points per game are nice, but his 53.8 percent shooting is amazing and 11 three-pointers made is a tournament best.
He’s 6’6” meaning he would be a taller two-guard in the Association, but in reality it’s unlikely he will make it that far.
Though, if he keeps shooting lights-out, it would be ignorant of him to not at least test the NBA Draft waters.
Like Diebler, Eric Blesoe is overshadowed by another player on his team—John Wall.
But Bledsoe is quite a player as well, especially on the scoring end. He filled up the basket to the tune of 29 points against Eastern Tennessee State and has averaged three assists as well in the Tournament.
He's actually outshined Wall on the offensive end so far.
Bledsoe can fill up the basket from beyond the arc, although he’s too small at 6’1” 190 pounds to play shooting guard in the NBA.
As a point guard, Bledsoe could be a scoring threat but would have to improve his passing game.
Still, with Wall on his team and being a raw talent, Bledsoe has been projected to go in the low 20s of the upcoming NBA Draft.
Turner is a downright stud. Like Jon Wall, he was going high in the NBA Draft before the tournament but he had to be on this list.
His 6’7” 205 pound frame gives him much versatility in college, and it will in the NBA as well.
Turner has more strengths than there is space to write them all, they include being; an excellent rebounder, with offensive creativity and a commitment to defense. He may be a poor three-point shooter but that could be developed at the next level.
His 16.5 points per game have been mediocre, but it shouldn’t affect his draft stock as he continues to be projected at the second pick overall.
Ok, so maybe everyone already knew who John Wall was before the tournament started, but he’s just too darn good not to have on this list.
Wall is averaging - - - in Kentucky’s first two games of the tournament, but his real damage was done during the Wildcats’ regular season of dominance.
Wall’s 16.8 points, 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals all led No.1 Kentucky as he guided the Wildcats to their fifth straight 30-win season, and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2005.
Wall has been so spectacular this year that he was awarded the Adolph Rupp Trophy, given annually to the National Player of the Year.
But Wall even played well enough to earn his coach John Calipari the Adolph Rupp Cup as the National Coach of the Year. It’s the first time in the 38 years of the awards that both went to a coach and player on the same team.
Wall is a no-doubter when it comes to playing in the NBA, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t have an impact on the league right away.
What NBA teams don’t need a stud shooting guard that can score and pass?
That’s right, none.
While many of these players will definitely make the NBA, it's unlikely that all of them will go to pro teams.
It will be interesting who goes where--in the draft and to what team--and what impact they will have at the next level.
And even though John Wall has already been named the No. 1 pick by the media, now ESPN's David Thorpe says a number of teams may take Turner first.
Rich Kurtzman is a graduate of Colorado State University as an Alumnus of the Communications Department. Along with being the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist here on B/R, Kurtzman is the Denver Broncos FC on NFLTouchdown.com and the CSU Rams Examiner on examiner.com.
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