NBA Draft 2021: Corey Kispert, Prospects on Rise After March Madness Round 2March 23, 2021
NBA Draft 2021: Corey Kispert, Prospects on Rise After March Madness Round 2
The top two picks in the 2021 NBA draft appear to be settled thanks to the exploits of Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham and USC's Evan Mobley.
The list of potential picks behind the two stars is crowded with one-and-done players, G League Ignite members and a few upperclassmen working their way into the conversation.
Gonzaga's Corey Kispert falls into the latter category, after he boosted his draft stock during the team's run into the Sweet 16 in the men's NCAA tournament.
Kispert and teammate Jalen Suggs are two of the few players who could further improve their NBA stock in the next four rounds. Kispert has a better chance to do so since Suggs is viewed as a top-five pick.
The other No. 1 seed on the left side of the bracket has a player who can compete with Kispert's rise in Michigan's Franz Wagner, the younger brother of Washington Wizards forward Moritz Wagner.
The sophomore is one of a few players who were thrust into larger roles when Isaiah Livers suffered a foot injury at the Big Ten tournament.
Moses Moody has been a feature player for Arkansas all season, and if the Razorbacks beat Oral Roberts, the freshman could earn a showdown with Baylor to further impress NBA scouts.
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
Kispert vaulted himself high up the first-round radar with a terrific close to the regular season and strong play in the West Coast Conference tournament.
The senior forward knocked down at least three shots from beyond the arc in three of his last four games in WCC action. He followed that up with six three-pointers and 23 points in the first-round win over the Norfolk State Spartans.
Although the 22-year-old did not produce an offensive masterpiece in Monday's second-round victory against Oklahoma, he still knocked down a quartet of triples.
At the moment, Kispert appears to be a late lottery selection at best. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic projected him as the No. 11 pick, and SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell placed him at No. 14 in his latest mock draft.
Vecenie offered up a comparison to Joe Harris in breaking down Kispert's NBA potential:
"The translation for Kispert is just super simple He's the best shooter in college basketball and has been compared to Joe Harris since the moment he declared for the draft last year. He would have been picked somewhere in the top 40 had he decided to go pro, but he decided to return and try to get Gonzaga to its first title."
As he attempts to win the school's first national title, Kispert could solidify his spot as a lottery selection if he continues to shoot well. He may not develop into a superstar, but he could become a solid pro in a league that values three-point shooting.
Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
Moses Moody is one of two first-year players who have a chance to make one last surge up the draft board through on-court play.
And the Arkansas guard has a better probability of earning more opportunities to do so than Florida State's Scottie Barnes because of his Sweet 16 matchup.
Moody can light up the scoreboard against an Oral Roberts team that has scored 75 or more points in its first two NCAA tournament games, while Barnes has to face Michigan on Sunday.
Since February 24, Moody has four 20-point outings, and he went 10-for-19 from the field in the first and second rounds of the Big Dance.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman ranked Moody as his No. 6 NBA draft prospect in the NCAA tournament. He detailed the abilities that make the 18-year-old an intriguing option for NBA teams.
"He's earned the three-and-D label that helps paint Moody as a high-floor prospect and easy fit," he wrote. "But he's also flashed enough shot-making versatility and slashing to suggest there is more scoring potential to unlock."
Moody can unlock some of those scoring capabilities in what could be the highest-scoring game of the Sweet 16. If he thrives against Oral Roberts, he will likely get a chance to prove himself against Baylor's tremendous two-way guards.
If he aces the assignment against one of the nation's toughest defenses, Moody could lock down a top-10 position and use that performance as a springboard to a potentially higher rise during the pre-draft process.
Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
Wagner has had a larger stage to showcase his NBA potential since Livers has been out for the last three Michigan games.
The sophomore looked comfortable in a starring role down the stretch on Monday, when he scored nine of his 15 points in the final eight minutes against LSU.
Wagner's playmaking ability allowed the Wolverines to stretch out an advantage over the LSU Tigers and avoid a dicey finish and the same fate as the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Monday's strong play, his international experience with Germany and being the brother of an NBA player should help Wagner's draft stock in the coming months.
Vecenie lists Wagner at No. 13 in his latest mock draft and detailed how well the Michigan forward can fit into NBA rosters:
"Wagner has skyrocketed up draft boards in 2021. Why? His fit in the modern NBA is about as pristine as it gets. He's a good shooter from distance with clean mechanics and strong percentages, having hit 39 percent from 3 this year. He's also a smart cutter who really knows how to get free from his opponent and an overall good mover without the ball. And on defense, he’s absolutely terrific."
Wagner will get one of the toughest Sweet 16 assignments against a Florida State side that is deep, has plenty of length and possesses a potential lottery pick of its own.
If he continues to refine the three-point shooting and defense that got him to this point, Wagner could end up as Michigan's most important player on a possible title run.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.