by Will Overton
One of the greatest sporting events of the year is the “March Madness” NCAA Tournament as there’s so much drama and intrigue packed into a single month. There are so a ton of different lenses to watch the tournament through and one of them is scouting for the next NBA stars.
We are going to prepare you for that viewing experience by breaking down each of the four regions and looking at the top prospects. This way you know who you should be watching for this weekend as you sit on the couch and consume endless hours of basketball and snack foods.
We are now breaking down the East Region of the bracket and while a good chunk of these prospects come from just a couple of teams, there is still a wealth of NBA prospects:
Top 12 NBA Prospects
- Kris Dunn, G – Providence: When you think of the prototypical point guard this is the guy that comes to mind. Dunn has the ideal size for the position and still has above average quickness, especially when he has the ball in his hands. When you watch him play you just feel like you’re watching an NBA point guard. His shooting has improved, but he could still get better in this area, and should be a top five pick and an instant NBA starter.
- Jamal Murray, G – Kentucky: A lot of people like Murray more than Kris Dunn as the number point guard in this draft, and that’s a fair opinion. I’m just not entirely sure he’s really made to be a point guard. Murray may be the most explosive offensive player in this entire draft class with his shooting ability and also knack for getting to the rim. If he wants to play point guard he has to improve his ability to get his teammates going.
- Demetrius Jackson, G – Notre Dame: While not the ideal size for point guard like the guys ahead of him on this list, Jackson is a real point guard with good handles, a high basketball IQ and solid court vision. He is also quick enough to get steals and sneaky enough to grab some rebounds. His shot is still a work in progress, but he may be a borderline lottery pick.
- Brice Johnson, F – North Carolina: I like Johnson more than most NBA Draft experts do and I think if he can add some muscle this offseason he can be a real force. He is a big jumper who is going to block a lot of shots and get a lot of rebounds, especially if he does get stronger. He is starting to add a little more range to his offensive game, but he would be well served to continue on with that progression.
- Thomas Bryant, C – Indiana: Thomas Bryant is the new ideal NBA big man, with great size and some unexpectedly good range. He is still pretty raw, as he can disappear at times on the floor. Still, his talent stands out and his combination of strength, length and quickness is really impressive.
- Tyler Ulis, G – Kentucky: There’s really only one knock on Ulis and that’s his size. He is only 5’9 and 155 lbs and in an era of bigger point guards that may be a problem. He is incredibly fast and explosive off the dribble, shoots the lights out and has tremendous court vision. The size will be hard to overcome, but he has so much skill.
- Nigel Hayes, F – Wisconsin: There is some concern that Hayes will struggle to find a position to play in the NBA, but I can see him as a really solid stretch four, especially if he adds a little more strength to bang on the boards. Hayes also needs to be a little more consistent with his jumper too. One thing I do like is his impressive court vision for his size. There could be a little Dreymond Green lite here.
- Benjamin Bentil, F – Providence: He gets overshadowed by the awesomeness of Kris Dunn, but Bentil is the real deal. He has a really nice inside-out offensive game, evidenced by his 21.2 PPG and 1.5 3PG. He can stretch the floor, but also flash some solid post moves too. He needs to get a little stronger on the boards, but he’s a nice prospect.
- Jameel Warney, F – Stony Brook: Warney has been beating up on small schools and doesn’t get a lot of credit because of that. You should really take the chance to watch him play though. You wish he had a couple more inches of length, but he’s a monster on the boards and a shot blocking machine while proving to be a force in the post on offense too.
- Alex Poythress, F – Kentucky: This is the kind of guy who a team will take a chance on just because of his tremendous defense. Poythress is a lock down defender who can guard several positions due to his athleticism. His offensive game is raw and he doesn’t have much of a jumper, but that defense is top notch.
- Joel Bolomboy, F – Weber St.: Like Warney, you shouldn’t sleep on Bolomboy just because he’s from a small school. He has loads of athleticism with quickness and tremendous leaping ability. He is a bit raw and needs more polish, but he may make a nice upside pick to stash in the D-League for a year or two.
- Isaiah Briscoe, G – Kentucky: You gotta like Briscoe’s size for a point guard, and he has more playmaking ability than we have seen since Kentucky has so many playmakers. He’s still got a long way to go with his shot and that may deter some NBA teams.
Best College Players Not On NBA Radars:
- Yogi Ferrell, G – Indiana: It’s not so much that Ferrell is completely off of NBA teams radars, but his small stature concerns NBA scouts enough to push him to the middle or end of round two. He sure is fun to watch play though.
- Troy Williams, F – Indiana: NBA scouts are looking for wings who can shoot the ball and Williams doesn’t do that too well. Still his plus defense may earn him a spot on an NBA team.
- Zach Auguste, C – Notre Dame: Auguste is sneaky quick for his position and a great rebounder, but he’ll need to block more shots to find a spot in the NBA.
- Justin Jackson, G/F – North Carolina: When he first came to North Carolina Jackson was a hot name, but he has lost some luster because of his inconsistent jump shot.
- Devin Williams, F – West Virginia: Williams is a lot like Auguste, a dominant rebounder and low post threat, but he’s even worse at blocking shots with just 0.2 per game.
***Caris LaVert would be on the top 12 prospect list, but he is injured and will not be playing in the NCAA tournament.
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Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists: