The NCAA tournament will kick-off next Thursday and, for potential NBA draft prospects, this is a big deal. Draft stocks can rise with one great game or several good games or stocks can plummet with a terrible performance. This is when the pressure is at its highest and where the stars shine the brightest. Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, and Jimmer Fredette helped their draft stock by putting on “big time” performances on the biggest stage the collegiate level has to offer. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players who can help their draft stock, dramatically, with solid performances. (No particular order)
1. John Henson, North Carolina: This guy seems to go unnoticed on a UNC team that has Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall. But Henson is one of the best defenders in the country and is nothing but consistent. He is averaging a double-double on the season and will, more than likely, be named ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. His team should make a deep run in the tournament, barring a big upset. With that being said, he should have three or four games to prove to NBA scouts that his limber frame (6’11 and 220 lbs) can handle the rigors of the NBA. I think when it’s all said and done, he can elevate himself into the top 10.
2. Royce White, Iowa State: Barring something unforeseen; Iowa State should make the NCAA tournament, giving White his biggest stage to perform on in his rocky college career. He has resurrected himself as a human-being and evolved into a point-forward for Fred Hoiberg‘s Cyclones. He can score, rebound, pass, and defend. He has the most to gain, of any player. from this tournament experience. The farther his team goes, the more looks he is going to get and the better he plays, the more scouts will fall in love with him.
3. Marcus Denmon, Missouri: The Tigers feature one of the most balanced attacks that college basketball has ever seen. They have four or five guys that can score the basketball. With that being said, I feel Denmon is more over-looked than any other player that plays on a good team. He can attack the basket, shoot from mid-range and three, and he is a pretty good defender. What more do scouts want? He has spent four years in college so he should be able to handle himself pretty well at the next level. This is his chance to prove that he belongs in the lottery discussion.
4. Perry Jones, Baylor: Flat out, he hasn’t lived up to expectations in his first two years at Baylor. Baylor didn’t make the tournament last season and I think some people forgot about Jones. When he came back a few games into the season in 2011, he dominated. From that point, he has been up and down but more down than up. I think he can silence the critics if he comes out and tears it up in the tournament. I don’t know how far Baylor will go, but he should get two games, at the very least and maybe three, to show that he is worth a top pick in June’s draft.
5. Draymond Green, Michigan State: Green is in a tough spot. Scouts don’t know what position he would play at the next level, so it’s tough to say how high he will go. I compared him to DeJuan Blair but with more of an offensive game. Green does it all for the Spartans, there is no denying that. But at 6’7, he doesn’t have the quickness to play the three and is not tall enough to be an effective four at the next level. But Blair proved the scouts wrong, so I think Green can as well. Like I said, he has more of an offensive game and better basketball smarts and intangibles to play at the next level. Let’s hope he performs well.
As we get closer to the tournament, I will try to highlight a few more players to watch. But have fun with these, for now!