Scotto: Big East Tournament NBA Draft Stock Watch

Michael Scotto NEW YORK – The Big East tournament featured two lottery picks, a local high school phenom, a breakout draft candidate and the latest Georgetown center with NBA potential.

Kris Dunn and Henry Ellenson headlined the event as the top draft prospects, but it was former Lincoln High School star Isaiah Whitehead who stole the show. Whitehead made a runner off the backboard while being fouled against Villanova and then made the free throw to give Seton Hall the Big East tournament championship for the first time since 1993.

Ben Bentil was trending nationally and had the best individual performance of the tournament. Bentil had 38 points on 16-for-24 shooting from the field, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal in Providence’s win over Butler.

With that in mind, several league executives and scouts spoke to SheridanHoops about what the future could hold for the five Big East prospects.

Lottery Picks:

Kris Dunn, Providence, G, 6-4, 205 pounds, junior:

KrisDunn“Dunn’s an exciting player,” one Western Conference executive told SheridanHoops. “He has a high turnover ratio due to his home run pass mentality. He has an athletic skill set. His deflection rate is off the charts and he has the potential to be a lockdown defender, which is his greatest attribute. He needs to get stronger and play in an up-tempo game where he’s pushing the ball. He’s not a shooter and if he improved 3-4 percent as most do, he’d still be average.”

While Dunn is considered one of the best guards in the country, the junior’s shooting declined from the field overall (47 to 44 percent) and beyond the arc (35 to 34 percent) and his free throw shooting remained an underwhelming 69 percent.

Despite his inconsistency as a shooter, Dunn showed flashes as a playmaker. In a high pick-and-roll set against Butler, Dunn penetrated off the dribble for a foul and later split a trap by two defenders for a dunk.

Looking ahead, Dunn would fit best in the league with shooters around him benefiting from his ability to penetrate and break down a defense off the dribble.

Henry Ellenson, Marquette, F, 6-10, 231, freshman:

Henry EllensonEllenson finished his freshman campaign as a First Team All-Big East selection and the conference’s Freshman of the Year averaging 17.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

Against St. John’s, Ellenson showed his offensive versatility. Ellenson caught an inbounds pass, faked a handoff and swished a shot along the baseline. He also made a reverse layup, nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a step-back jumper from just inside the arc. Ellenson’s 3-pointer with roughly three minutes remaining gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good as he finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

“Not a laser, but good face-up jumper from 15 feet and no reason to think it can’t get better if he’s a worker,” one Eastern Conference scout told SheridanHoops. “He’s very skilled. Not sure he’ll be any worse than Kevin Love defensively, but it will definitely hinder his affect on winning.”

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Ben Bentil, Providence, F, 6-9, 235, sophomore:

Ben BentilBefore his 38-point breakout game, several NBA executives felt Bentil would highly consider declaring for the draft because he won’t play with as good of a playmaker as Dunn next season.

“He’d get drafted, not sure where though,” one Eastern Conference executive told SheridanHoops. “I’m hearing late first-round to early second-round. He’s an undersized, strong power forward that can shoot a little – not laser sharp, but definitely capable. Not sure how much of his game translates and he doesn’t have the Paul Millsap feel, agility or ball skills. He can’t defend wings. You have to like his arc of progress, obviously he’s a worker.”

Bentil averaged 21 points per game this season, a 15-point increase from his freshman campaign. He became an efficient shooter from the field (.469), 3-point range (.333) and the foul line (.788) and averaged eight rebounds per game.

Against Butler, Bentil swished an 18-foot baseline jumper, drew a shooting foul on a rip move similar to Brook Lopez of the Nets, converted two hook shots from just outside the right side of the paint and hit an off-balance runner in the lane.

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall, G, 6-4, 195, sophomore:

Isaiah WhiteheadWhitehead was unanimously selected as a First Team All-Big East member for the Pirates this season. Whitehead routinely filled the box score by averaging 18.4 points, 5.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He also improved his 3-point accuracy to 38 percent compared to 34 percent as a freshman.

During the Big East tournament, Whitehead stepped up his play and averaged 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

“One more year,” fans chanted as Whitehead was presented the Most Outstanding Player trophy.

If the Pirates advance deep into the NCAA tournament and Whitehead continues his individual hot streak, his stock may become too high and force him to strongly consider declaring for the draft. Looking ahead, Whitehead must improve his mid-range game and cut down on his turnovers to reach his full potential.

“We’re a dangerous team, so the country better watch out,” Whitehead said after winning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. “They really tried to shadow us throughout the whole year, but there’s no denying us now, baby. We’re in the big dance! Everybody better watch out. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Keep An Eye On:

Jessie Govan, Georgetown, C, 6-11, 266, freshman:

Jessie GovanAfter watching Govan during the college season, one Western Conference executive told SheridanHoops he could become an NBA player in two years.

Govan is expected to become a full-time starting center for the Hoyas next season with senior Bradley Hayes graduating.

He’s has been on our radar dating back to the Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game and earlier this season in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.

In Georgetown’s first-round matchup against DePaul, Govan flashed some of the versatility in his game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a hand in his face and a hook shot in the paint.

Govan hopes to join Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Roy Hibbert as the next Georgetown center to thrive in the league.

Michael Scotto is an NBA columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeAScotto.

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