Who’s helped themselves the most for the Draft with their performance so far in the NCAA Tournament?
We know better than to make a judgment of a player based on the NCAAs. We are told every year that you must look at a Draft prospect’s entire body of work — what they did during the whole season, or preceding seasons — and that any one game, for good or bad, can unfairly skew a player’s reputation.
Having acknowledged that, though, there is some value in seeing how players do in neutral sites against different types of competition, coaching, defenses, etc. After all, a lot of players who are likely to go in the Lottery were quickly eliminated in the first or second round. Staying power does count for something.
So, in no particular order, here are some names that personnel types contacted this week nominated:
F Mikal Bridges | 6-7 | Junior | Villanova
G Jalen Brunson | 6-3 | Junior | Villanova
G Jevon Carter | 6-2 | Senior | West Virginia
F Caleb Martin | 6-7 | Junior | Nevada
G Clayton Custer | 6-1 | Junior | Loyola
F Rui Hachimura | 6-8 | Sophomore | Gonzaga
G Tyus Battle | 6-6 | Sophomore | Syracuse
G P.J. Washington | 6-7 | Freshman | Kentucky
G Keenan Evans | 6-3 | Senior | Texas Tech
G Malik Newman | 6-3 | Sophomore | Kansas
F Mo Wagner | 6-11 | Junior | Michigan
“Jalen Brunson has helped himself and Mo Wagner,” a Western Conference executive said. “Both players were late first or early second-round picks and I️ think both should go in the first round. Jalen has been good but I think his leadership has been undervalued. Mo played poorly early in the year but has come on as of late.”
Newman, who was mentioned by more than one personnel man, scored 32 points with seven rebounds in Kansas’ overtime victory over Duke in the Midwest Regional final Sunday.
“He reminds me of Ray Allen in size, personality and shooting ability,” another Western Conference executive said. “He’s on the come so to speak. Value pick.”
A Western Conference scout cited Washington’s improved scoring ability inside and how he rebounded in traffic for his higher marks.
Another thought Brunson’s performance during the tournament — he had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in Sunday’s East Regional final win over Texas Tech — solidified his likely first-round standing in the Draft.
“Brunson is the leader of the best team in the country,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “He has shot the ball well all year and continued to do so through out the conference tournament and NCAA tourney. His vision and feel as a passer is second to none. He may have the highest basketball IQ in the country.”
The Eastern exec also singled out Evans — “the best player, on the best team, in maybe the best conference in America,” he said. “He guided his team to wins with his ability to make others better while also scoring effectively.”
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