Men's NCAA Tournament 2021: Final Four Stars' NBA Draft Stock Watch

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterApril 1, 2021

Johnny Juzang
Johnny JuzangDarron Cummings/Associated Press

It's hard to get to the Final Four without at least one serious NBA prospect. For all the mid-major upsets the 2021 NCAA men's tournament has produced, each team that made it through did so with pro-level firepower.

The Big Dance provides a large stage for top prospects—and creates a few top prospects of its own. It also has a way of handing out demotions of sorts, as players fail to live up to their potential when the lights are brightest.

Here is a list of potential future NBA players in the Final Four whose stock has notably risen or fallen, along with thoughts on whether we're buying or selling their chances for a big draft night. We'll look at their position in Bleacher Report NBA draft expert Jonathan Wasserman's most recent mock, which was released before the tournament began, and decide whether that pick still seems realistic.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the NBA prospects in the Final Four, but rather includes those whose stock may have fluctuated the most.


(Dis)honorable Mention

Franz Wagner (Michigan, Shooting Guard, Sophomore)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: 12

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

No, Franz Wagner and his No. 1-seeded Wolverines are not in the Final Four. And not to pile on, but it's easy to lay that at his feet. In fact, the case kind of makes itself. 

In their 51-49 Elite Eight loss to No. 11 UCLA, Wagner only managed four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Not to mention he missed not one but two potential game-winning threes. One of them was an air ball. Not so great.

Overall, his tournament average was 10.3 points per game, which is 2.2 points off his season average of 12.5. But it's his three-point shooting that turns heads. After making a solid-if-unspectacular 34 percent of his tries on the season, he managed only 13 percent (2-of-16) from deep in the tournament.

His tournament rebounding numbers (8.5 per game) and assist average (3.8) were both above his season marks, but if you're going to be an offensive black hole for extended stretches (or entire games), that's what people will key on.

The 6'9" Wagner, whose brother Moe already plays in the NBA, is coveted by scouts for his all-around game, length and ability to guard multiple positions. He should still go in the first round, but he may drop a few spots after stumbling on the college game's biggest stage.

Stock: Down


Johnny Juzang (UCLA, Shooting Guard, Sophomore)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: Unranked

Number of points Juzang scored in Tuesday's upset of Michigan: 28. 

Number of points scored by the rest of UCLA's starters combined: 23.

Juzang carried this Bruins team to the Final Four. He's averaging 21.6 points over five tournament contests—well above his season average of 15.5. And it might very well be higher if he hadn't fouled out of the Alabama game with 13. 

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Johnny Juzang (18pts) was LIGHTS OUT in the 1st half ♨️ @UCLAMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/Oku07qA28v

Inside, outside, it doesn't matter. He's shot 47.7 percent from the floor. He's at 35.3 percent from three, but again that would be higher without his 1-of-6 aberration against Alabama, which is one of the best defensive teams in the country. The 6'6" Kentucky transfer just knows how to score.

He's not a stellar athlete, which has put him on the outside of the first round—or the entire draft—looking in. It may also make sense for him to stay in school to get further seasoning under head coach Mick Cronin.

But Juzang's innate basketball instincts and notable toughness have been on full display in this tournament and have him higher than he was before. If he comes out after this season, he's far more likely to get a shot in the pros than he would have been otherwise. 

Stock: Way up


Davion Mitchell (Baylor, Point Guard, Junior)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: 18

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Another reminder of how good Mitchell is came in the second half of the Villanova game, when he and backcourt mate and fellow NBA prospect Jared Butler ground out a win with defense, transition acumen and penetration when they experienced a collective 1-of-12 three-point slump for the contest.

But that only tells part of the story. Even after going 0-of-3 from deep in that game, Mitchell is shooting 57.1 percent on the tournament, or 4.8 percentage points above his season average.

Mitchell has averaged 13.5 points per game, which is in line with his season average of 14.1. His ability to fight on every possession—and carry Baylor with him—has shown up time and again. And he's just a constant terror on defense, where he's averaging two steals per contest in the dance.

Mitchell was in a good draft position before, but after this, he may be knocking on the lottery's door.

Stock: Up


Jared Butler (Baylor, Shooting Guard, Junior)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: 25

Jared Butler (right)
Jared Butler (right)Michael Conroy/Associated Press

This is all on a relative scale. But the fact is, Butler hasn't delivered the goods offensively, compared both with Mitchell and his own season averages.

Butler was easily the biggest culprit behind that Villanova cold streak, going 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Not what you're looking for from the guy who led your team with 16.5 points on the season and typically shoots 40.4 percent from deep.

And it's not just one game. In four tournament outings he's averaged 13 points and hasn't matched his season mark in any contest. Although he's part of a Final Four team, that position in the lower end of the first round may get a bit more tenuous. It's conceivable he'll fall into the second round.

Stock: Down


Quentin Grimes (Houston, Shooting Guard, Junior)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: Unranked

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The story of every Houston player begins with defense, but Grimes is the team's first and best offensive option, thanks to his effective if non-flashy game.

Grimes led Houston into the Final Four while averaging 18 points in four tournament games, which is exactly the same as his team-leading season average. His three-point conversion rate is up slightly from 41.3 percent on the season to 43.6 percent in the tourney. And this is to say nothing of the 21 points on 66.7 percent shooting, two steals and one block he chipped in to win the American Athletic Conference title.

And of course he's also a great defender, something he's repeatedly shown in the tournament. For example, Grimes was instrumental in keeping Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim under wraps, forcing the 38.3 percent three-point shooter into a miserable 1-of-9 performance from deep. Houston held the Orange to 46 points in that game. That's just mean.

Grimes hasn't found himself in the first-round conversation, and with a relative lack of athleticism he may never crack the top 30. But at an absolute minimum the middle of the second round feels like more of a floor than a ceiling.

Stock: Up


Drew Timme (Gonzaga, Center, Sophomore)

Pre-tournament draft prediction: Unranked

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Were you intrigued by how Timme would stack up against an NBA-caliber big, like, let's say, USC's Evan Mobley? Well, now we know.

Everything you need to know about Timme you could learn from the first sequence Tuesday in the Zags'  85-66 shellacking of No. 6 USC. The 6'10" Timme was on the perimeter guarding 6'2" USC point guard Tahj Eaddy. Mismatch, right? Well, Timme picked Eaddy's pocket, drove to the other end, missed the layup, got his own rebound, went up again and drew a foul on Mobley.

His dominant line on the night: 23 points on 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) shooting, five rebounds, four assists, three steals.

He just doesn't play like anyone else. Outside picking a point guard's pocket, I'm not sure I've ever seen him run. I've certainly never seen him jump. But he's always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. And yeah, he just did it against NBA-caliber competition. USC isn't Pepperdine. Timme may not be in the lottery like Zags guard Jalen Suggs or mid-first round like team leader Corey Kispert, but he could be making a case for first-round consideration if he declares for the pros.

Stock: Up