March Madness 2011 Predictions: Derrick Willliams and 10 Players Scouts Love
The madness of March brings many things. For NBA scouts, however, it bring plenty of talent all into the same tournament. Early-round exits kill players' stock, while deep runs in the tournament can shoot them up the draft boards.
For example, Butler reaching the 2010 Final Four was great for Gordon Hayward, as he was selected in the top 10 of the following 2010 NBA Draft.
On the other hand, an early-round exit will surely make a player's draft stock drop. Scottie Reynolds was a first-team All-American, but after his Villanova Wildcats lost in the second round, he wasn't even drafted.
While a significant amount of this depends on team success, the majority of it is on the player himself.
Top picks might be locked into their position while other guys have plenty of room to move up and down.
Here is a look at 10 guys who could move up or down the draft board a lot, making them very exciting to watch for NBA scouts.
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
I know, I know. The Cinderella Eagles of Morehead State are no longer in the tournament, but that doesn't mean scouts aren't excited about Kenneth Faried.
There might not be a harder worker in all of college basketball.
Faried absolutely attacks the boards with no regard. He has a Jason Maxiell/Trevor Booker/DeJuan Blair undersized and overachieving body type.
Faried will likely be drafted in the mid- to late-first-round area and won't let his team down.
Count on Faried to be a rebound machine in the NBA, with the legitimate possibility of developing his scoring game to match it.
Watch out NBA scouts, Faried could be an overlooked guy come draft night.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Fredette has as sweet a shooting stroke as college basketball has seen in years. He can shoot off the dribble or pull up from anywhere on the floor.
The big question on Fredette comes down to whether he can run the point or not. He has expanded his dribbling and point-guard skills over the years, but it might not be enough for scouts.
He doesn't possess high-end athleticism and will likely get knocked on for that. He has developed over the years, very similarly to shooting guard converted to point guard Stephen Curry.
While Fredette certainly doesn't have the quickness or athleticism of Curry, he can shoot just as well (if not better) and is a good decision-maker with the ball.
Don't sit on Fredette and BYU, as many people have after they lost Brandon Davies to a season-long suspension. Beating down on Gonzaga like they did is no small feat and NBA scouts know that very well.
Tristan Thompson, Texas
Thompson has made headlines this year for several reasons. Yesterday he stated that he will be back next year, citing that he has already signed up for summer classes. Listen to me clearly Tristan, don't do it!
If Texas can advance to the Elite Eight, sorry Texas fans, but expect Thompson and Jordan Hamilton to be goners. If the Longhorns only go to the Sweet 16, then they might actually come back.
When Texas received a surprise No. 4 seed, the motivation for Thompson and the Longhorns had to skyrocket.
Thompson can be an extremely dominant power forward, dominating games at times. He is very athletic, uses his body well and has high upside as a pro.
Thompson has an awkward jump shot, but that is something that can be worked on. He isn't as skilled as most people might want him to be, but his athletic ability makes up for it.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger is a lock top 10 pick, but can always move himself up to No. 1.
He has a great body and will have to use it to advance Ohio State multiple games. Sullinger is one of the heaviest power forwards in the tournament, adding to his advantage.
He bruises players down low and will have to impose his will every game.
Just a freshman, Sullinger is more-than-capable of being the most valuable player in the entire tournament.
The sky is the limit, Jared, and worst-case scenario will still have you sitting pretty come draft time.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Like his teammate Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones is a very athletic player on the court.
Jones was somewhat of an afterthought in Kentucky's loaded recruiting class, but he became "the man" once the season started.
Jones is as versatile as they come and can guard almost any position. He can dribble the ball very well, which will make him a big threat when NBA power forwards try to guard him.
He can score in many ways and has good footwork when moving around in the paint. Jones is also a solid rebounder, which is why he is so versatile.
Jones' shot is very funky, but it tends to fall more often than not.
Like Tristan Thompson, Jones could see a Tyrus Thomas-like boost in draft stock if the Wildcats can make it to the final weekend.
Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Like his teammate Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton supposedly jumped on the "I'm coming back to school" boat. Like his teammate, Hamilton shouldn't do it.
Hamilton could benefit from another year in college (who wouldn't?) but that doesn't mean he needs to.
NBA teams love to draft on potential and Hamilton certainly has it.
The sophomore has overall NBA tools and will be a lock first-round pick. On top of that, if Texas can advance past Arizona and Duke, Hamilton will definitely be a lottery guy.
Hamilton has his fair share of "what was he thinking" moments, but does plenty to make up for it. He's long, athletic, extremely versatile and can play good defense.
Don't let your stock potentially fall Jordan; go to the NBA now.
Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Knight has the elite athleticism to be a top pick in the draft, but he hasn't put it all together this year.
Coming into the year as a top-three recruit in the country, Knight was expected to lead Kentucky. However, he has been inconsistent throughout and has seen his stock fall as a result.
If Kentucky can make an Elite Eight run, Knight and company could be in for another historic first-round draft class.
Knight does have the new NBA point guard look, being a tall and strong guy that can handle the ball. He is extremely athletic and can blow by defenders at will. One more strength to his game may be his underrated defensive play.
The knock on Knight so far is that he plays his age. He is still a freshman and shows it almost every game.
Knight also fades out of games too much. He was a non-factor versus Princeton until the last possession and then followed it up by dominating West Virginia.
Kentucky needs Knight to dominate if they want to be a Final Four team.
Kyrie Irving, Duke
Right before the tournament started, Duke announced that Kyrie Irving would finally be ready to return from his toe injury. For Duke, this is a boom-or-bust opportunity.
Irving is an elite point guard and was fabulous before he was injured early in the season.
He has all the point guard tools pro scouts want, possessing great athleticism to go along with his decision-making. Irving has drawn comparisons to other crafty NBA point guards, like Memphis guard Mike Conley.
However, the freak injury he sustained earlier in the year can only hurt his stock. Not that Irving is fragile or injury-prone, but who knows how often weird injuries happen to him?
Irving comes back at a dangerous time. If he's not at least 90 percent and ready to play, he could really hurt his draft stock.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Coming into the season as the nation's No. 1 recruit, Harrison Barnes had a less than impressive first half of the season. However, he has flipped the switch and can carry UNC whenever he chooses.
It seems like UNC goes as Harrison does. He is super quick with the ball and has a great shooting stroke that should only improve.
Harrison also has big-play ability. He hit a clutch go-ahead three against Florida State and recently hit a big three to force overtime against Clemson.
Barnes has already improved his stock the past few weeks and can continue to do so with a solid showing in the big dance.
Barnes' main flaw is his left hand, and improvement in that area can easily come with practice. Barnes didn't have an overly impressive first-round game and needs to light it up the next few rounds to keep wowing scouts.
Don't be surprised if Barnes takes over the tournament; this kid has elite talent.
Derrick Williams, Arizona
Nobody has more to gain in this tournament than Derrick Williams. At the same time, nobody has more to lose.
Williams is currently regarded as a top-five pick and will need to play well to keep that status.
He is a very smart player, knowing how to use his body to get to the line at a high rate. He also knows how to get others involved at the right time, using his slashing ability to help others score.
Williams is somewhat of a "tweener" and will have to shake that role in order to cement his stock. The "tweener" label is tough to lose, but acquiring a consistent jump shot would do just that for Williams.
He isn't the most reliable around the perimeter and has plenty of work to do to maximize his game.
Williams has a huge tournament ahead of him and needs to do everything he can to keep his team in the tournament for as long as possible.
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