NCAA Tournament 2011: 8 Players Ready to Jump from March Madness to the NBA
Every March Madness, we watch as NBA prospects rise up to the occasion or crumble beneath the pressure. All 68 teams will get their chance to shine, ensuring that eyes will be watching every game of the tournament.
Past years have seen us wowed by athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and John Wall. Players will inevitably catch our eye and hold our attention for the duration of March Madness.
Which ones are already primed for the NBA? Check through to find out.
8. Jimmer Fredette, BYU
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Maybe this is nothing more than a sentimental pick, since Jimmer Fredette has been wowing crowds all season. Fredette has put on a show every time he hits the court, scoring improbable layups and draining three pointers.
His 28.5 points per game shows that he can score. His 45.6 field goal percentage, 89.1free throw percentage and 40.4 three point percentage are all impressive considering the amount of shots and the difficulty of shots that he takes.
Fredette looks quick and confident on the court, and that's something any NBA team could use.
7. Tristan Thompson, Texas
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Tristan Thompson is a 6'8" player with a 7'2" wingspan. That sheer size will make him valuable in the NBA.
Thompson is a smaller power forward but has compensated with that freakish wingspan. Averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, the freshman has filled up the stat line all season for the Texas Longhorns.
His ability to crash the board and score put-back buckets will be essential to his success in the NBA. Outside of his post moves, he is still a work in progress. But his athleticism and size should make it easy for him to become a serious NBA player.
6. Terrence Jones, Kentucky
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Terrence Jones is one of the few prospects who have an NBA ready body at 19 years old. His sheer size and strength will translate beautifully to the wear and tear of the professional game.
Jones has produced both scoring and on the boards, averaging 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He is quick and athletic, with the ability to score both off of the dribble and off of the catch.
Jones has range with his shot, capable of hitting three pointers. He shouldn't attempt many of them, but they are makeable for him.
The only weak spot for the freshman is his post offense. Jones hasn't shown much of a post game so far, but that can easily come with time.
5. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
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A rocky start to the season for Barnes was quickly erased during the ACC Tournament when he went off for 40 points against Clemson. It seems as if the 18-year-old is finally reaching his ceiling.
Barnes is an excellent shooter off of the dribble but has trouble shooting off of a pass. He has problems getting to the basket and often settles for jumpers, which may be a cause for concern.
The defensive end is where Barnes shines though. His size, wingspan and skill make him an elite defender against almost any player. He has shown the ability to guard most positions on the court with his well rounded skillset.
Most importantly Barnes is a complete class act. He carries himself well off the court, doesn't get too emotional during games and is just an ideal teammates.
4. Kemba Walker, Connecticut
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Look no further than his gorgeous game winning shot against Pittsburgh for the abilities that Kemba Walker holds.
A gifted point guard, Walker has shown tremendous ball handling, a great shot and amazing leadership.
During his first years at UCONN, Walker had a tendency to differ way too much to his teammates. With the loss of reliable scorers this season Walker has been forced to take control of the offense. He has done so with extreme precision.
His outside shooting has improved drastically since he stepped on campus and his quickness and ball handling is as good as it has always been.
The only real knock on Walker is his size. Standing around 6 feet tall, he is a bit undersized.
3. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
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Averaging a double-double at any level is no easy task, but Jared Sullinger managed to do just that while leading Ohio State to a number one seed.
The freshman is an incredible rebounder with incredible length. His wingspan gives him a seriously unfair advantage when reaching for missed shots and loose balls. His ability to recover loose balls in those situation has led to publications to calling him Kevin Love-esq, which is a serious complement when it comes to rebounding.
On the offensive end Sullinger is nicely progressing and has a great low post game. He catches almost anything thrown his way. His game with his back to the basket is well beyond his years, something almost impossible to find.
2. Derrick Williams, Arizona
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Derrick Williams is shooting 60.3 percent from three point range this season. That isn't a typo. 60.3%.
Granted he is only making about one a game, but that number is still ridiculous.
Outside of his gaudy three point percentage, Williams has shown the ability to score from any point on the court. He can make threes, he can post up and he can create for himself on the perimeter. He is a true coach's nightmare on the offensive end of the court.
Williams is a scorer, plain and simple. He can finish in traffic or hit jumpers. He can slam home dunks or contort himself for a lay-up and a foul.
Williams will contribute on a playoff team in the near future.
1. Kyrie Irving, Duke
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He isn't scoring the most points or converting the most assists, but Kyrie Irving has consistently been the best player on one of the best teams all season long.
Irving is that rare breed of player who feeds teammates and makes them better when it's needed but flips a switch and takes over games himself when his team needs him. One minute he can be dishing beautiful assists across the floor and the next he will slash to the basket himself and score on his own.
He is constantly in control, never careening towards the basket like a run-away freight train. His jump shot is already well developed.
To put it simply, Irving could step on an NBA court tomorrow and compete.