The first week of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and one thing is clear — the draft stock of many of the top players did not improve. In fact, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel’s stock was probably helped the most of any top prospect — and he was unable to play in the NIT because of a torn ACL.
But there were certainly others who helped themselves.
After the round of 64, only three of the top 10 players on the Big Board were left playing. Ben McLemore, who at one time was in the mix to be the top pick, played poorly. McLemore shot a combined 2-for-14 in Kansas’ first two games and looked lost for much of the game against North Carolina.
Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo of Indiana played adequately but lacked the dominance one would expect from players projected in the Top-10. To Oladipo’s credit, he played critical defense over the final minutes of the game on Temple’s Khalif Wyatt that was instrumental to the Hoosiers advancing to the Sweet 16.
In a draft class that is projected to be void of impact prospects, the first week of March Madness was a blown opportunity for many. However, with this year’s tournament so wide open, here is a list of the prospects, ranging from first- to second-rounders, that helped their stock the most.
Vander Blue, SG, Marquette, 6’4″
Blue’s game really progressed this season and was highlighted by a spectacular 29-point performance in a winning effort against Butler.
Blue is a great athlete who is shooting 50% from deep during Marquette’s run — not a shabby number for the worst 3-point shooting team in the 68-team field.
Khalif Wyatt, SG, Temple, 6’4″
Wyatt opened the tournament with a 31-point outburst in a win versus North Carolina State. Despite losing to Indiana in a game that Temple led for much of the way, Wyatt was even more efficient scoring 31 points again.
For most of the game Wyatt was willing the Owls to a win, but he seemed affected down the stretch when Victor Oladipo matched up with him.
Mike Rosario, SG, Florida, 6’3″
The transfer from Rutgers has been a sharpshooter all season long and used an impressive win against an athletic Minnesota team to displays his abilities. Rosario nailed six 3-pointers Sunday and was key to the Gators getting off to a fast start that set the tone for the rest of the game. As Rosario’s college career comes to a close, these performances are crucial to him boosting his stock for a chance to be drafted.
Erik Murphy, PF, Florida, 6’10″
Murphy projects to be a stretch-4 at the next level, but for now Murphy is a big key offensively for the Gators. Through the first two wins of what could be a memorable run (the Gators can’t lose to Florida Gulf Coast, can they?), Murphy has 33 points and is shooting over 72% from the field.
Murphy has shown NBA scouts he has the skills that translate to a successful career off the bench. Murphy is a lock to go in the 2nd round.