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Sport March Madness gives these top prospects last chance to rise up NBA Draft boards

18:00  13 march  2018
18:00  13 march  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

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With an increased number of NBA eyes focused on the NCAA Tournament, here’s a look at a handful of players who could overcome March Madness to rise up draft boards .

The NCAA tournament served as a chance to shine in the spotlight for a number of the talented NBA prospects . Top players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell will all likely be top -five picks despite up -and-down showings during March .

The NCAA Tournament in finally here... and good news! Unlike the past two seasons, all of the top prospects made it into the field. Well, except for that Slovenian kid playing in Spain.

From one-and-done lotto picks to senior sleepers, March has historically been a proving ground for some of the best NBA prospects in college basketball. This season should be no different.

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With an increased number of NBA front office eyes focused in on the sport, here’s a look at a handful of players who could overcome the Madness to rise up draft boards this month.

a person holding a basketball: Michael-Porter-Jr-FTR-0308-Getty.jpg © Provided by Sporting News Michael-Porter-Jr-FTR-0308-Getty.jpg

The potential top-three pick

March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in East Region

  March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in East Region The 2018 NCAA Tournament’s East Region features a trio of potential lottery picks as well as a number of under-the-radar prospects. Here's a look at the top players to watch.Here’s a look at the top players to watch, an unheralded name and which matchups to keep an eye out for.

But let's dig deeper. The NCAA Tournament can serve as a proving ground for plenty of underrated prospects , giving them chances to gain national notoriety and start moving up the draft boards . These 10, for example, should do exactly that

March Madness is a time when many fans get introduced to the future NBA stars, and the If you’re looking for tournament teams full of NBA prospects , Arizona, Duke, Michigan State and NBA Mock Draft 2018: Lottery Picks 1-14. GettyLuka Doncic is battling to be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft .

Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. made his re-debut for the Tigers in their opening game of the SEC Tournament last week after undergoing back surgery in the fall. Porter, once the top-ranked recruit in the high school class of 2017 and the current No. 6 prospect on our 2018 NBA Draft Big Board, scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 23 minutes of a disappointing 62-60 loss to Georgia.

As expected, Porter looked rusty in his return. He finished just 5-of-17 from the field and struggled to find his place defensively. The Tigers as a whole also appeared to still be figuring out how to integrate a high-volume isolation scorer into their offense. Porter likes to catch the ball in different spots than most of Missouri’s other wings, and he isn’t a smooth ball mover yet, so things can get sticky.

March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in West Region

  March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in West Region The 2018 NCAA Tournament’s West Region is the most lackluster in terms of NBA prospects, but there’s still plenty to see. Here's a look at the top players to watch.Here’s a look at the top players to watch, an unheralded name and which matchups to keep an eye out for.

Some NBA prospects have even seen their seasons end already, including To help get fans excited for this year's draft , I asked CelticsBlog readers to submit their March Madness related questions. A: Louisville's power forward Montrezl Harrell is finally rising on many draft pundit's big boards .

For plenty of the NCAA's top NBA prospects , March Madness represents the last chance to Just ask Shabazz Napier, Kemba Walker, Trey Burke or Derrick Williams. Players who might experience a similar rise up draft boards over the next few weeks can be found under the mock draft below

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Porter, though, has an opportunity to redeem himself in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are in the field as a No. 8 seed where they’ll square off with a long and athletic Florida State squad in the opening round. Given Missouri will be without starting wing Jordan Barnett due to a suspension, Porter could be called on to play significant minutes (assuming his conditioning allows for it).

NBA teams already understand Porter’s skill set well from his high school film, but seeing him healthy and against quality competition could do wonders for his so-called draft stock. The 19-year-old may have a tough time forcing his way back into the top three, as several players have already established themselves over the full season, but if the Tigers go on a run, it’s a possibility. Given they would likely face Xavier, the field's worst No. 1 seed, in the second round, don’t rule it out.

March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in South Region

  March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in South Region The 2018 NCAA Tournament’s South Region features a trio of potential lottery picks as well as a number of under the radar prospects alongside the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed. Here's a look at the top players to watch.Here’s a look at the top players to watch, an unheralded name and which matchups to keep an eye out for.

Throughout March Madness , fans and NBA personnel have been gushing over the top NCAA prospects and how they project in the upcoming draft . Now that college basketball is long behind us and the Euroleague season over with Real Madrid the new champion

The NCAA tournament has brought out the best in a number of prospects looking to improve their stock for the NBA draft . Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox made a strong case to rise , but will he? Questions over his jumper will give top -five teams a whole lot to think about.

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The lottery talents at point guard

It’s been a rough couple of months for the top point guard prospects on the board, as both Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young have struggled to handle the end of the college season. The NCAA Tournament — an event that historically favors quality point guard play — could provide both players an opportunity to hit the reset button and re-establish themselves with NBA front offices.

Sexton has a bit of a head start. Through four games in March, including the final game of the SEC regular season and three games in the conference tournament, he’s been terrific. The 19-year-old is averaging 29.8 points and 4.7 assists per 40 minutes while posting a highly efficient 68.3 true shooting percentage.

Sexton is converting better than 50 percent of his 2s, but more importantly, he has found his range from deep, connecting on 10 of his 20 3-point attempts. His ability to improve as a shooter is critical, as he’s already arguably the top slasher in the class. Positing the threat of a pull-up jumper would open up his offensive game even more.

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USA Today Sports' Nicole Auerbach thinks you'll be seeing these Sweet 16 stars taking their game to the next level in the NBA . USA TODAY Sports.

For college hoops prospects hoping to improve their 2014 NBA draft standing, March is a month brimming with opportunity. A few key prospects have a chance to really boost their stock, enhance their resume and change scouts' minds over the next couple weeks. For some of these youngsters

Alabama’s opening round matchup against Virginia Tech should present Sexton with an interesting one-on-one battle. Justin Robinson, the Hokies’ junior point guard, represents a challenge. Should the Crimson Tide advance, Sexton will meet crafty veteran Jalen Brunson and a well-coached Villanova defense in the round of 32.

NCAA BRACKET BREAKDOWNS: East | South | Midwest | West

Unlike Sexton, Young doesn’t have early March success to fall back on. His February struggles have bled over into the sport’s biggest month. Young’s still averaging 23.0 points and 7.7 assists per 40 minutes since the beginning of February, but his true shooting percentage is a paltry 50.4, and he’s made just 25.5 percent of his 98 3-point attempts during that 10-game stretch.

The 19-year-old’s 22 points on 7-of-21 shooting, five assists and four turnovers in a 71-60 loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament was an exemplar of his recent struggles.

There’s only so long Young can ride the wave of his early-season successes. Sure, he’s one of the few potential primary initiators in the class, but at some point, the questions about his ability to survive an 82-game season, defensive effort and shooting consistency are going to become overwhelming.

Young’s opening round matchup with No. 7 seed Rhode Island looms large as an opportunity to remind everyone why he skyrocketed from unexpected one-and-done to top-10 pick.

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Most prospects who generate NBA lottery buzz look to cash in quickly . Kris Dunn had the chance last spring after a breakout sophomore year Some players, like the Connecticut Huskies' Shabazz Napier, have used the tournament as a springboard to rise up draft boards in recent years.

A handful of NBA prospects appear on the verge of breaking out. And though the everyday college hoops and draft follower knows these six rising standouts, the national love hasn't quite been there for any of them. That will all change by March .

a man holding a basketball: Aaron Holiday FTR .jpg © Provided by Sporting News Aaron Holiday FTR .jpg

The potential Shabazz Napier

Speaking of point guards, March is a great time for borderline first-rounders and second-round sleepers to thrust themselves into the conversation. We’ll call it the Shabazz Napier effect. The former UConn point guard led his team to an unexpected national title in 2014 and vaulted himself into the first round. You might even earn yourself a tweet from LeBron James in the process.

Two upperclassmen, UCLA’s Aaron Holiday and Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham, fit the bill. Holiday might be a bit of low-hanging fruit here, as he’s already in the first-round discussion, but he bears mentioning given his 2018 performance.

The 21-year-old averaged 22.8 points and 6.2 assists per 40 minutes during conference play while shooting 51.4 percent from behind the arc on over 100 attempts before hanging 34 points on Stanford in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Holiday’s an elite slashing guard who also ranks in the 99th percentile as a catch-and-shoot scorer, per Synergy, and he's comfortable defending aggressively at the point of attack.

He’ll open the NCAA Tournament in the play-in game on Tuesday night against St. Bonaventure. The Bruins will need him at his best against fellow point guard Jaylen Adams if they want to advance to the round of 64.

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Bender (Virginia) | Birdsong (Arizona) | DeCourcy (Villanova) | Fagan (Villanova)

Graham’s also put together an impressive 2018. He averaged 19.1 points, 7.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds per 40 minutes during Big 12 play and helped lead the Jayhawks to a 14th straight conference championship, earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

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His Napier credentials center heavily around his clutch shot making. Graham knocked down a pair of unassisted jumpers with under five minutes left to help Kansas separate from West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament title game on Saturday, for example. The 23-year-old is averaging 0.962 points per possession (80th percentile) on pull-ups this season, per Synergy. Graham has deep range on his 3-pointer, and his ability to create separation against college defenders is good enough to put on a show in March.

The Jayhawks don’t have an easy path to the Elite Eight, but if they get there, a matchup against either Michigan State or Duke could give Graham the chance to stake his first-round claim.

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The skilled big man from Gonzaga

Last March, Gonzaga freshman big man Zach Collins stole the show. Despite coming off the bench for the eventual runner-up, Collins showed enough as a rim protector and potential ball screen threat to become a top-10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Now, his fellow former freshman has the potential to use the NCAA Tournament as a launching pad in a similar way.

Although 6-10 Killian Tillie probably won’t be playing his way into the lottery this March, he can make a case to be a first-round pick with a good performance on the national stage. The Frenchman is one of the more offensively skilled bigs eligible for the 2018 draft.

As a sophomore, he’s averaged 20.7 points per 40 minutes on a 68.2 true shooting percentage. Most notably, Tillie’s connected on 50.0 percent his 90 3-point attempts this season, and he knocked down 13 of his 14 shots from behind the arc en route to a WCC Tournament title. The 20-year-old is comfortable shooting off movement as well, as he ranks in the 94th percentile when pulling up out of a pick-and-pop, per Synergy. He’s even capable of attacking closeouts when opposing big men come in too hot.

Tillie still faces positional questions, and he doesn’t have an NBA-ready frame like Collins, but his skill set is tailor-made for the modern NBA big man. With a good outing in March, Tillie could leap into the back end of the first round come June.

Collin Sexton, Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young © (Getty Images) Collin Sexton, Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young

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