Zagoria: NCAA Tournament: Whose Stock is Rising?

NEW ORLEANS — Here in The Big Easy for the NCAA Final Four, there are a slew of future NBA lottery picks set to take the floor Saturday night at the SuperDome.

Four of the projected top six picks on DraftExpress.com’s Mock Draft and five of the top 12 play for Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State. (Louisville is the lone Final Four representative without a projected lottery pick.)

Numerous other players no longer in the NCAA Tournament have also helped their stock since the Madness began.

Here’s a look at some top prospects who are here, and some who aren’t.

Top 5 NBA Prospects in the Final Four:

1. Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky

The presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Davis was named the U.S. Basketball Writers National Player of the Year. He impacts the game on both ends of the floor and his offensive game is coming along nicely. Davis has had three double-digit scoring games in the NCAA Tournament, including an 18-point, 11-rebound outing in the rout of Baylor.

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky

Though Kidd-Gilchrist previously said he would return to school for his sophomore season, reports recently surfaced that he would come out. And why not? He’s projected as a Top 3 pick. A tremendous transition and inside player, the former St. Patrick star needs to develop his perimeter game.

3. Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas

The latest Kansas big man to follow in the footsteps of recent college successes Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins, Robinson projects to be a better NBA player. He’s more physical, rebounds well on both ends and has been the heart and soul of this undermanned Kansas team all year.

4. Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State

After choosing to remain in school following a freshman season in which he could’ve been a lottery pick, Sullinger has the Buckeyes back in the Final Four for the first time since 2007, when they lost in the championship game to Florida. A big, strong, skilled post player, he and fellow forward Deshaun Thomas form a deadly 1-2 punch that will be on display against Robinson and Kansas center Jeff Withey.

5. Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

The knock on Jones is that he doesn’t always play hard and his stock has dropped somewhat over the course of the season. But there’s no denying his talent level, and when he decides to play hard he’s one of the best forwards in the college game. He has all the tools necessary to play in the NBA, but questions linger over his commitment level.

Five Players Whose Stock Has Risen in the Tournament:

1. Bradley Beal, G, Florida

A potential lottery pick, Beal has great upside and can rebound well for a guard. NBA scouts love his handle and his ability to play-make in the halfcourt. He has 3-point range but can also get to the basket.

2. Royce White, F, Iowa State

A skilled point/power forward, White went for 23 points and 9 rebounds in third-round loss to Kentucky. NBA scouts like his skill set but feel he has to develop a more consistent jump shot and free throw.

3. C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh

The 6-3 combo guard has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. He is projected as a mid- to late-second round pick but NBA scouts see him as a scorer who can attack off the dribble. “When his career is done at Lehigh, he will go to the NBA and help some team win,” Lehigh coach Jeff Jones said.

4. C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State

Projected as a second-round pick, Leslie is an athlete who rebounds and will be effective in an uptempo style where he can use his athleticism. Leslie is also effective from 15 feet and in attacking the basket off the dribble.

5. Jae Crowder, F, Marquette

The Big East Player of the Year is a tough, physical forward who plays with energy on both ends of the floor. He is projected as a late second-round pick. Marquette finished second in the Big East to Syracuse this year.

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

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  1. Jim says

    After watching Kentucky a few times I’m in love with Kidd-Gilchrist. I’m sure Anthony Davis will be the #1 pick, but a few years from now Kidd-Gilchrist will be the biggest star from this draft.

    And I was not impressed with Perry Jones III. Too passive, needs to add weight, and I never saw any kind of consistent offensive move or shot. Maybe I saw a small sample size, but I wasn’t impressed.

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