Power Ranking the Top 2014 NBA Draft Prospects in the Sweet 16

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMarch 26, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 2014 NBA Draft Prospects in the Sweet 16

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    Though most of the high-profile prospects have already gotten booted from the dance, there is still a fair amount of NBA talent left in the NCAA tournament. 

    The fact that Kentucky is still alive might have something to do with that. UCLA and Michigan State also both have multiple potential first-round picks in their lineups. 

    We went ahead and power ranked the top 10 prospects who've made into the second weekend of the Madness. 

10. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Sophomore

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    Montrezl Harrell has picked up some serious steam over the last month, and he'll roll into the Sweet 16 coming off three straight double-doubles.

    He's actually had five games of at least 20 points and 10 boards since Feb. 14. 

    Harrell is simply overwhelming on the interior, where he has the hops to finish above the rim, the strength to finish through contact and the athleticism to score around it. 

    He's also been a relentless presence on the glass throughout the entire season.

    Harrell was held to just six points and four boards the last time he faced off with Julius Randle, so expect scouts to be tuned in to this rematch in the Sweet 16. 

9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore

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    He just makes it look so easy. Kyle Anderson fills up box score after box score in effortless fashion, and he's helped make UCLA a legitimate threat to Florida in the Sweet 16. 

    It sounds too good to be true on paper: A 6'9" pass-first point guard with an extraordinary feel for the game and position. But there's a bright red flag—he's slow, he lacks athleticism and he has no defensive position. 

    Anderson is one of the tougher prospects to peg, as scouts seem split on his NBA outlook. 

    Regardless, based on the potential reward that comes with having a 6'9" point guard, you'd like to think that someone will take a first-round chance on him when all the top dogs are off the board. 

    But it would certainly be a good look for Anderson if he's able to put his squad on his back and knock off the tournament's No. 1 seed. 

8. Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF, Senior

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    The 41 points he dropped against Delaware in the round of 64 sparked some buzz and conversation. 

    How could it not—at 6'10", Payne was making it rain from downtown, he was scoring in the post and he shot 17-of-17 from the stripe. 

    The talent was always there with Payne. We just haven't seen him put it all together until this season. Delaware got it all in one 24-minute stretch.

    From a scouting perspective, Payne has really established himself as a viable pick-and-pop or drive-and-dish big-man prospect. 

    He now has the touch to stretch the floor to match his size for the interior. Payne is already 23 years old, but he should be one of the more NBA-ready bodies by 2014-15. 

7. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Freshman

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    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is coming off a season-high 18 points in a blowout over Gonzaga. But what makes him so unique is his versatility—he also racked up five boards, five assists, four blocks and a steal in 27 minutes.

    He's a long, seemingly elastic athlete with terrific quickness and a bounce to his step. There's really a chance he can effectively guard three different NBA positions.

    Offensively, he's still pretty raw, but you can usually catch Hollis-Jefferson on the back end of a cut or lob around the rim. In between, he's an excellent passer, an active body and a weapon in the open floor. 

    Hollis-Jefferson probably needs another year of reps in Arizona's offense before declaring, but the talent and upside here is pretty obvious to spot. 

6. Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", PG/SG, Freshman

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    The opportunity just hasn't been there for Zach LaVine, who's playing behind three older guards in UCLA's lineup. 

    He's made only two field goals over his last four games. It's not that LaVine is off; he's just not getting good looks or the opportunity to make many plays within the offense. 

    But even though he hasn't been a factor over the last two weeks, I wouldn't sleep on him. He's the type of guard who can erupt out of nowhere and put points up in bunches if he happens to catch fire. 

    LaVine might need to against Florida—his draft stock, and his team's livelihood in the dance, could both depend on it. 

5. Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore

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    The guy never seems to cool off. Over his last four games, Nik Stauskas is 14-of-28 from behind the arc. 

    But we always knew Stauskas could shoot. This year, he's expanded his off-the-dribble game, becoming a better and more threatening playmaker with the ball in his hands. 

    Stauskas dished out eight assists in Michigan's round of 32 win over Texas. He's really a confident and heads-up player out there.

    He'll get Tennessee next, who has the athletic, 6'6" shooting guard Jordan McRae to match up with him. Look for scouts to be focused on the quality of shots Stauskas gets off and how big of an impact he can make in a huge spotlight game. 

4. Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Sophomore

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    Gary Harris went for 18 points in a win over Harvard in the round of 32. It was just another day at the office for Harris, who seems to always find ways to score within Michigan State's offense. 

    Harris relies more on off-ball movement to free himself up for shots, as opposed to overusing the dribble and trying to score one-on-one, and it just might be one of his most glowing strengths.

    But he'll get Virginia's stout defense in the Sweet 16. Harris hasn't taken over for the Spartans in a while, having scored under 20 points in all eight games he's played in March. 

    If there was ever a time for Harris to really break out, now would be a good one—both for his team and his draft stock. 

3. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    We haven't seen the consistent production we were hoping for, but you can still count on Willie Cauley-Stein to give you a few mean blocks and dunks a game. And at 7'0" with world-class athletic ability, that's all Kentucky really needs him to do.

    He's a monster finisher off pick-and-rolls, dump passes, lobs or offensive putbacks. And he can cover plenty of defensive ground and airspace as a rim protector. 

    He blocked four shots and picked up four steals in 28 minutes against Kansas State in the round of 64. 

    Kentucky will sure need one of those lines from Cauley-Stein against Louisville in the Sweet 16. 

2. Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman

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    The arrow is pointing up for Aaron Gordon, who's started to find his groove within Arizona's offense. 

    He was big-time in the Wildcats' round of 32 win over Gonzaga, finishing with 18 points, six boards, six assists and four steals. In the round of 64, he went for 16 points, eight boards, three assists and five blocks against Weber State. 

    Gordon has given Arizona some valuable frontcourt versatility and a high-percentage target to throw to around the rim. We're seeing him attack driving lanes, knock down the occasional jumper and finish lobs and offensive putbacks. 

    He's even hit a three-pointer in four of his last five games. 

    Gordon still can't hit from the line, but he's converting the scoring opportunities that come his way, and he's playing some top-shelf defense as a wing and post defender. 

    The fact that he's a top contributor for a strong No. 1 seed doesn't hurt his resume, either. 

1. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Freshman

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    Julius Randle is coming off his most complete performance in quite a while. He handed out six assists to go with his 13-point, 10-rebound double-double against Wichita State. 

    He did a better job of capitalizing on the attention he draws by finding open shooters. 

    As a scorer, Randle continues to go to town in the paint, where he dishes out contact and finishes after it at the rim.

    He'll be going up against Louisville bully Montrezl Harrell in the Sweet 16. Despite being limited by cramps in their first meeting back in December, Randle still went for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. 

    With Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Marcus Smart all out of the tournament, this could be a big chance for Randle to make a bold statement to the NBA. 


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