NCAA Bracket 2011: 10 Sophomores Headed from March Madness to the NBA Draft
With the madness of March now in full swing, there are more than enough reasons for fans across the country to follow how the tournament plays out.
At the forefront of the tournament's headlines, however, are the NBA prospects that occupy them. Many of the country's top-tier producers will be featured in this year's Final Four, and the lead-up until then looks to be as hyped as ever.
With competition just getting under way, here are 10 sophomores who should make the jump from college ball to the NBA this offseason.
Bursting onto the national scene in his sophomore season with the Arizona Wildcats, Derrick Williams is arguably the most complete NBA prospect at forward in the country this season.
His 6'8'', 241-pound frame has aided in Arizona's tournament berth and successes this season, and he could certainly become a starting threat at the next level.
As impressive as his overview is, it's the statistics that have truly captured the country's attention—19.1 points per game, 60 percent from the three-point line and 8.1 rebounds per game solidify Williams' status as the best forward in the nation.
An impressive showing this season has vaulted UCLA's premier forward Tyler Honeycutt into the national spotlight for the time being, and his stock is only beginning to rise.
Over the course of his 2010-2011 regular season with the Bruins, Honeycutt averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game—an impressive mark.
Most would say he should hold off on the draft, but now truly is the time for the 6'8'', 188-pound sophomore to make the leap from college to NBA basketball.
Despite Louisville's early Round 2 exit in the NCAA tournament, the Cardinals made a great run in the Big East tournament mostly due to Peyton Siva's extraordinary play against some of the best competition in the country.
His 5'11'', 188-pound frame may be a bit too small for most NBA teams' liking, but the performance and capabilities Siva possesses are second only to Kemba Walker in the entire Big East conference.
Despite his unimpressive 28 percent shooting from beyond the arc, Siva is without question ready to spring into NBA action in the near future.
In Texas A&M's resurgence to respectability this season, no player has contributed more than sophomore forward Khris Middleton.
Middleton, who is arguably the most NBA-ready prospect in the entire Big 12 conference this season, could certainly be of use to a needy NBA franchise next season with his prototypical 6'7'', 215-pound frame.
As the Aggies' offensive commander this season, Middleton has contributed 14.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game to be complemented by a three-point field goal percentage of 35 percent.
This Wolverines point guard is a threat to go off at any given time. He's also proved many times this season that he is capable of taking Michigan to the next level.
Of course, I'm talking about none other than Darius Morris—the 6'4'', 190-pound prospect sure to wow scouts in private workouts in the weeks leading up to the NBA draft.
For the Wolverines this season, Morris averages 15.2 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game—all while leading Michigan to a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. Darius' capabilities and skill set will take him to the next level with ease, and it's not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that he could fill a starting role for an NBA team as early as next season.
This kid has a bright future.
Probably the biggest stretch of all the prospects included in this list, Brandon Triche could still contribute to an NBA team by next season.
Triche, who leads Syracuse in free-throw percentage (.846) and provides solid minutes, rebounds and points on a consistent basis, is probably the X-factor in the Orange's NCAA tournament hopes.
Be that as it may, he could obviously use another season in college to improve his overall game.
Okay, now it's time to get serious.
The Zags are currently one of the hottest teams in America, and at the center of it all is their beast forward, Elias Harris, who, for all intents and purposes, could headline an extremely talented 2011 NBA draft class.
Yes, Harris' résumé is impressive, but the most surprising element of his game could be the drive, enthusiasm and desire to get better on a day-to-day basis.
This season Harris averages a solid 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in just over 26 minutes of work per contest.
UConn may be owned and operated by Kemba Walker, but it is Alex Oriakhi's inside presence that has ensured many of the Huskies' victories over the course of the regular season.
In the 2010-2011 regular season, Oriakhi has managed 10.0 points and an impressive 8.5 rebounds per game.
When the draft rolls around, Oriakhi should be one of the first forwards off the board. He will make an immediate impact on an NBA roster in the near future.
The statistics may not be astounding; however, Duke would not be where it is today without the consistent play of Seth Curry. This season, Curry again managed to transform a needy Blue Devils offense.
With a solid 9.5 points per game to go with shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc, Curry could potentially become a Steve Nash-type figure for some lucky NBA franchise.
When the 2010-2011 season began, it's safe to say the entire country failed to recognize Kawhi Leonard's San Diego State as a potential force in the NCAA tournament. Now that the Aztecs have secured a No. 2 seed in the tournament, scouts across the nation are thoroughly impressed beyond belief.
Leonard's 15.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game are impressive enough to put him at or near the top of this year's draft class.
When Leonard makes the jump into the NBA in the near future, he will become an immediate impact player and possible franchise icon worth building around.