Category Archives: NCAA College Basketball

Risk or Reward: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

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We are just a few days away from the 2014 NBA Draft, many prospects have made themselves a household name during team workouts which has improved their draft stock. It is casual for general managers and talent scouts to get caught in the moment of what a player is capable of when nobody impedes their progress. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on while we await draft day.

 

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report

 

5. P.J. Hairston

 

During his time span at North Carolina, sharp shooter P.J. Hairston was becoming a focal point of the Tar Heels’ success. Many would believe Hairston was sorely missed by the Tar Heels in powder during the early portion of the season. However, off-season troubles would derail his college career where the repercussions led to the dismissal from the team this past season. Making the leap to the NBA D-League, Hairston has shown his talents that may translate well to the next level averaging 21.8 points per game in 26 games with the Texas Legends. His ability to perform will not be in question, rather the growth of maturity are bound to raise caution flags to teams.

 

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

 

4. Aaron Gordon

 

Freshman phenom Aaron Gordon has made himself a hot commodity in the draft process with his athletic abilities that has drawn many comparisons to Blake Griffin. Is that enough to qualify him as a potential lottery pick? The Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year has displayed his exceptional work ethic along with his versatility as he shows promise to excel at the next level on both ends of the floor. In order to succeed that, he must improve his offensive repertoire outside the paint and a much needed tune up at the free throw line. Can Gordon become a franchise player, or a role player that never could become a star is the question surrounding this Wildcat.

 

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

 

3. Zach LaVine

 

Coming off the bench for UCLA Bruins this season, Zach LaVine would show flashes of talents in spurts early in his one and done season, averaging 10 ppg on 45% shooting. He has appalled us with his leaping ability at NBA Draft Combine and workouts that has put his name into the lottery discussion. It would not be the first time a player coming off the bench would go on to be selected as a lottery pick. It happened with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Even though inconsistency was on display, you could expect changes in the NBA with the  right coaching and playing system to fit LaVine’s open court uptempo game, he can flourish as a combo guard at 6’5″. Or perhaps become the next Austin Rivers. Patience will be key with LaVine because of being a raw talent.

 

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2. Dario Saric

 

The name Dario Saric has surfaced throughout the NBA Draft process of being a top 10 pick. In fact, just before last year’s draft he pulled his name off the big board.

What do we know about him?

He is a 6’10” swing man who can play both forward positions  at an efficient rate while being able to handle the ball. Averaging 15.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg in 47 games overseas, the Croatian playmaker is fluid offensively along with a great feel of what’s going on at all times on the court. However, his inconsistency on offense and being a liability on defense may cause his stock to drop. Winning a championship and MVP at the age of 20, his experience and youth will not be undervalued in the NBA going forward.

What we do not know about Saric is the role he will play on a NBA team or when we will make his NBA debut when drafted after recently agreeing to remain in Europe for two more years. It will take the perfect system for Saric can utilize his skill set at the next level. It will be interesting to see what NBA team will commit to him with no certainty of when he will come to America to play. Think of Danilo Gallinari when you hear Saric’s name and ceiling as a player.

 

Denny Meddley- USA Today

Denny Meddley- USA Today

 

1. Joel Embiid

 

Joel Embiid has the potential to become the best player in this draft in many years to come. Being a game changer on defense now, his offensive game showed improvement throughout the college basketball season. With the back injury and now recently suffering a foot injury, red flags are raised around Embiid that could derail his draft stock. The names of Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton have been mentioned when talking about big men with injuries when it comes to drafting Embiid first overall. Yet, many teams should be weary of missing out on an opportunity to change a franchise around a position that has diminished over years.

 

The time has come in March where the pressure of the words ‘win or go home’ rises to immense pressure. While this postseason’s bracket proposes upsets in multiple regions, the time has come for the premier players to elevate their talents as the cream of the crop. Before you decide to fill out your billion dollar bracket, let’s review the tournament before tip-off.

South Region

As the south region features the talents of Andrew Wiggins and Kyle Anderson, many believe it is the Florida Gators title to lose. Riding a 30 game winning streak, head coach Billy Donovan will have his senior led team prepared for his opponents best shot. However, many will be anticipating to see how Kansas Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins performs on the biggest stage of his basketball career thus far. Jayhawks nation as well as  Bill Self hopes Wiggins can carry the load as the health status of Joel Embiid becomes unknown.

While we seek for upset alerts in the tournament, be aware of the No. 5 seed vs No. 12 seed matchup between the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks who are currently on a 28 game winning streak. Also, an intriguing game to see is the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Dayton Flyers. The inconsistent scoring of the Buckeyes may cause them to have a first round exit.

Midwest Region

The Wichita State Shockers reserve the right to be angry after the release of the Midwest region bracket. As a consolation prize for going undefeated through the regular season and conference tournament, the Shockers have drawn the likes of the Michigan Wolverines, Duke Blue Devils and defending champions Louisville Cardinals with the potential of drawing a second round matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats.

The spotlight of individual talent will be on display throughout the region headlined by Duke’s freshman phenom Jabari Parker who recently became the latest recipient of the Wayman Tisdale award that is given to the nation’s top freshman. The region also consists of talented players such as Russ Smith, Nik Stauskas, Julius Randle, Jahii Carson, Marcus Foster, and T.J. Warren.

West Region

With the No.1 seed being awarded to the battered Arizona Wildcats, they also may be the first 1 seed to be eliminated with the possibility of playing Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The bottom of the West region bracket contains talented teams that can advance far featuring the Wisconsin Badgers, Baylor Bears, and Creighton Bluejays led by senior and National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott. All eyes will shift on him as he is playing in a his final tournament.

 

Without a clear favorite, the opportunity to represent the west region in the NCAA Final Four becomes more interesting to watch. A dark horse team to watch is the underachieving No. 10 seed Oregon Ducks and No. 6 seed Baylor Bears led by the frontcourt of Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin.

East Region

Winning its regular season conference and tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers have earned its right as a 1 seed in the tournament. The ACC Champions would like to continues its success going into the tournament behind the coaching of Tony Bennett and the leadership of Joe Harris. However, the heavy favorites have became Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans as they would showcase their full strength becoming the Big Ten Conference Tournament Champions.

The Iowa State Cyclones have a great chance of becoming the last man standing of its region led by the talents of DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim. We can not ignore the other teams representing the East Region with the likes of the No.2 seed Villanova Wildcats, No. 6 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, and a potential Cinderella team in No. 11 seed Providence Friars led by point guard Bryce Cotton.

The month of March brings us enjoyment because our favorite players shine on the brightest stage of their careers and our favorite teams aspirations of becoming national champions. This also may be our last time watching some of our favorite gamer changers and future NBA players perform at the amateur level. Welcome to the tip off as the madness of March begins.

Under the Radar Players Watch List 3.0

        The madness of March has arrived as teams begin to shape into form preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Where anything is possible come tournament time, we take a look at the game changing players in the latest installment of the under the radar players to be aware of in men’s college basketball.

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Darrun Hilliard II- Villanova University

     Head coach Jay Wright has the Villanova Wildcats playing its best basketball in recent memory with the performance of Darrun Hilliard II. The junior guard has elevated his play, becoming a primary option averaging 18.6 points per game in his last five games, 14.4 this season. While the Wildcats are head into the Big East Tournament with 1 seed aspirations to the big dance, Hilliard must continue to be the go to guy in order to be successful going forward.

Jarnell Stokes- University of Tennessee

     In his junior season, Jarnell Stokes is a physical force for the Tennessee Volunteers as they are fighting for positioning for the tournament. He is a man amongst boys on the court setting career high numbers in points and rebounds with 14.5 ppg while grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game. Currently on a four game winning streak, the Vols will need Stokes to impose his will during the SEC Tournament to make a deep run.

London Perrantes- University of Virginia

   The Virginia Cavaliers are beginning to peak on the eve of the ACC Tournament due to the huge contribution of freshman point guard London Perrantes. Not averaging staggering numbers, however, Perrantes has become the floor general of the offense, leading the conference in assist to turnover ratio. His performance over the course of conference play has earned him All-ACC Freshman team. The future is bright for Virginia and Perrantes in March and years ahead.

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Buddy Hield- Oklahoma University

     The Oklahoma Sooners have found success of their basketball program finishing second in the Big 12 Conference led with the talents of sophomore guard Buddy Hield. Stepping  into a bigger role from his previous season, Hield has become the primary scorer for this team with a career high 16.8 ppg. It will be critical for Oklahoma to advance in the tournament as he has shown the ability to catch fire in games.

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Terran Petteway- Nebraska University

     Terran Petteway has the Nebraska Cornhuskers playing its best basketball in recent memory this season. Petteway, who started off his college basketball career at Texas Tech has now found a home in the Big Ten Conference as he carries the Cornhuskers with 18 ppg and 4.9 rpg. While Nebraska continues its stretch of dominance winning 10 of their last 12, Petteway has averaged 19.2 for the duration of that span. Nebraska has the opportunity to become a bracket buster behind the leadership and play of him.

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Joseph Young- Oregon University

     The Oregon Ducks have returned to natural form on the eve on the Pac-12 Tournament, closing the regular season on a seven game winning streak. A key contributor is the University of Houston transfer Joseph Young. The junior guard has been able to make a scoring impact immediately to this team, leading the team with 18.2 ppg. While defense continues to be Oregon’s nemesis, the fast paced offense can outscore anybody with Young leading the way.

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Markel Brown- Oklahoma State University

     The Oklahoma State Cowboys has had an up and down season, threatening the potential chance of making the NCAA Tournament. One bright spot that has kept Cowboys fans optimistic is senior guard Markel Brown. He has improved every season of his college, setting career highs in points, rebounds, and assists while carrying his team in various situations this season. A guard with his size and caliber can takeover a game come clutch time.

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Briante Weber- Virginia Commonwealth University

    The season of March Madness means it is time to prepare for head coach Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams. The staple of success for the Rams is their stifling defense led by point guard Briante Weber. Along with career high numbers across the board, Weber is among the leaders in the nation in steals with 3.6 per game in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Beware of the full court defense being put on notice that leads to easy points beginning with the ball pressure from Weber.

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Kendall Williams- University of New Mexico

     New Mexico has been able to duplicate its regular season success without head coach Steve Alford with the help of Kendall Williams. Williams has been able to become the catalyst at the guard position with career highs in points and assists. The senior will look to avenge his lost last season as a three seed as they would lose to Harvard in the opening round of the 2012-13 NCAA Tournament.

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Alan Williams- UC Santa Barbara

     The UCSB Gauchos have the potential to become a cinderella story out of the Big West Conference led by the man in the middle Alan Williams. Williams is difficult to contain in the paint averaging an astonishing double double at 21.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg and 2.4 blocks per game. The junior has the opportunity to upset a high seed team by first winning its conference tournament.

Under the Radar Players Watch List 2.0

   With less than a month away from Selection Sunday, there are various players across the nation who are capable of carrying a team for stretches when called upon. We continue our under the radar players watch as we get closer to March Madness.

Jordan Clarkson- University of Missouri

     After sitting out the previous season while transferring from Tulsa University, Jordan Clarkson has not disappointed Tigers fans this season. The 6’6″ point guard has the athleticism and versatility to create for himself or teammates. Averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, he will have to duplicate his success on the court in order for Mizzou to have a chance to win games in postseason play.

Melvin Ejim- Iowa State

     A valuable piece to the Iowa State Cyclones success this season has been the senior play and leadership of Melvin Ejim. He is one of the latest Canadian born players to burst onto the basketball scene averaging 19.1 points per game while grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game posting eight double doubles. Ejim has became the backbone of this Cyclones team as they prepare for March to approach.

Marcus Paige- University of North Carolina

     Without 3 point shooter P.J. Hairston this season, sophomore Marcus Paige has been asked by head coach Roy Williams to carry a heavy load on offense and has done an incredible job while accepting the task. Paige, averaging a career high in points and rebounds, has became a focal point and leader to the Tar Heels recent success winning seven in a row. They will look towards him down the road as they continue to struggle with offensive perimeter play.

Jordan Bachynski Breaks All-Time Conference Block Record

Jordan Bachynski- Arizona State University

     With Arizona State on the rise in the Pac-12 Conference, the heart of the team is the man in the middle that is Jordan Bachynski. The Canadian born center has improved his overall play during the course of his Sun Devils, averaging career highs in points, rebounds and blocks with a staggering 4.6 per game. Having a big man with Bachynski’s abilities on the defensive end will give you a chance as a team to win games in the tournament.

Shabazz Napier- University of Connecticut

     Shabazz Napier is arguably the best point guard in the nation. Becoming a finalist for the Bob Cousy award given to the nation’s top point guard, the catalyst for the Huskies, he has contributed in many aspects with 18 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 5.5 apg. His contributions will pay dividends in the NCAA tournament as we have seen teams move on due to elite guard play.

Kyle Anderson- UCLA

     Recently finding a place in the AP top 25, the UCLA Bruins have became one of the hottest teams in the country behind Kyle Anderson. The sensational sophomore has done it all playing the hybrid point forward position for first season head coach Steve Alford posting 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per contest with 13 double doubles this season. Expect UCLA to make a push in March behind Anderson as his draft stock rises.

 

Wesley Saunders- Harvard University

     The best apart college basketball is the hidden talent flooded throughout the nation. At Harvard University, that is swingman Wesley Saunders. After found success last season in the NCAA Tournament, the junior from Los Angeles, CA has been able to duplicate his success picking up where he has left off. With the Crimson Tide at 20-4, they are poised to receive another tournament birth with Saunders leading the way as the teams go to guy.

Dwayne Evans- St. Louis University

     As the St. Louis Billikens strive to reach their pinnacle of last season, the senior leadership of Dwayne Evans. Averaging 14.8 ppg while grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game, he has his team currently ranked No. 10 in the AP top 25 and undefeated in Atlantic 10 Conference play.

Tyler Haws- Brigham Young University

     Tyler Haws has became one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball this season. At 18-10, the Cougars hopes of a birth in the field of 68 are decided by the play of Haws as he averages 24.1 ppg with the tangibles of taking over a game where anything can happen in the tournament.

Caris LeVert- University of Michigan

     Becoming a focal point this season, Michigan Wolverines sophomore Caris LeVert has stepped into a bigger role from the previous season. As his minutes drastically increased from 11 last season to 33, LeVert is the second leading scorer on the team with 13 ppg along with 4.5 rpg. He is the glue guy to this team with Mitch McGary sidelined with an injury and Glen Robinson III not performing up to expectations this season. In order to reach the championship game, his valuable talents and effort will need to rise come March.

Top 10 Under The Radar Players

     While the Men’s College Basketball season continues to unfold, the national landscape of competition has tilted as many teams on the horizon are preparing for a poised run in the NCAA Tournament. Our center of attention is primarily on the phenomenal freshmen play that are potential NBA prospects. It may be the time to give recognize players under the radar across the nation for their play.

 

 

Xavier Thames- San Diego State

Xavier Thames has been a focal point for the recent success found by the San Diego State Aztecs. The senior point guard has found himself into a leader role for his team as he is averaging a career high 18 points per game. If the Aztecs expect to make a deep run in the tournament, Thames must be the person to lead the way.

 

 

Nick Johnson- University of Arizona

Although many have praised the coaching of head coach Sean Miller freshman forward Aaron Gordon for his dominant play, the unsung hero for the Arizona Wildcats has been Nick Johnson. The third year guard has been the Wildcats most consistent player on the defensive and offensive sides of the basketball, scoring a career best 15.9 ppg. Johnson’s play on the court becomes a X-factor on how far he can lead this team.

 

 

Kareem Jamar- University of Montana

A name that does not get the national exposure it deserves comes from Missoula, Montana in Kareem Jamar. As a senior, he has continuously improves every season since being at Montana by becoming an honorable mentioned All-American the previous season. This season, Jamar has continued to be the best player in the Big Sky Conference as the Grizzlies are riding a current four game winning streak. Jamar  is poised to lead his team to a third straight NCAA tournament birth as his tangibles are what is looked for at the NBA level.

 

 

DeAndre Kane- Iowa State

While there are many headlines to a college basketball season, DeAndre Kane has become one of them. The Marshall transfer has came into an Iowa State program where he has became a catalyst for the Cyclones, averaging 15.9 ppg, 6.5 rebounds along with 6 assists per game. As the Big 12 Conference slowly becomes one of the toughest in the nation, Kane has solidify himself as a Conference Player of the Year with aspirations of leading the Cyclones to the postseason tournament.

 

 

Chaz Williams- University of Massachusetts

The UMASS Minutemen have had early success due to elite guard play of Chaz Williams. The 5’9″ point guard who started off his career at Hofstra University has led his team to a 19-4 record thus far while being ranked in the AP poll this season due to a 16-1 start. Averaging 16 ppg and 7.4 assists, Williams must continue to be the floor general he is in order to seal a postseason birth.

 

Chris Walker- University of Florida

The highly coveted freshman has seen limited minutes on the floor after being cleared by NCAA to play this season. Florida Gators have not display signs of missing him out of their lineup as they are current ranked No. 3 in nation. However, the talent and athleticism of Chris Walker can elevate the Gators to a championship contending team come March.

 

Jahii Carson- Arizona State University

     Sophomore guard Jahii Carson is considerably one of the most electrifying point guards in the NCAA this season. Picking up where he has left off last season, Carson has led the top half of the Pac-12 Conference at 19-5. Being the team leader, he is putting up consistent numbers across the board at 19 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 4.7 apg. The Sun Devils have goals to reach the NCAA Tournament behind Carson’s ability to control the tempo of the game.

 

 

Cleanthony Early- Wichita State

The Cinderella story in Men’s College Basketball has been the Wichita State Shockers led by senior forward Cleanthony Early. Early epitomizes the Shockers ‘play angry’ mentality with his aggressive play on the floor while posting career high numbers this season 16.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Wichita State’s formula isn’t predicated on one man’s success, but they will need Early to come up big and sometimes late in situations when called upon to reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season.

Villanova Basketball: Way-Too-Early Grades for Wildcats Starters

 

James Bell- Villanova University

Sitting atop of the Big East Conference, the Villanova Wildcats have found success with James Bell leading the team. The senior guard has continuously improved his game for head coach Jay Wright averaging a career highs in points and rebounds. The No. 6 ranked team in the nation eyes a high seed in the NCAA tournament with a deep run that starts with Bell.

 

 

Marcus Foster- Kansas State University

Marcus Foster has became the latest freshman to attract national attention for his assertive play for the Kansas State Wildcats. Currently third in the Big 12 Conference, Foster is the leading scorer for this team averaging 15 ppg. As Kansas State position themselves to make a run for the tournament, he needs to extend his offensive productivity when the time comes.

 

Top 10 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

     We live in a NBA state of mind where teams are preparing to set themselves up for the future. Whether it is acquiring draft picks in exchange for feature players, or teams “tanking” in order to position themselves for a potential lottery pick for this years upcoming draft.  With many talented prospects preparing for the 2014 NBA Draft, we take a look at the top 10 Draft Prospects.

10. Gary Harris- Michigan State

Gary Harris is a player who can play on both sides of the floor, which is not found in many college players transitioning into the league. He’s not a player who will excite you with athleticism, however, he can score the ball in various ways that will benefit a NBA team in the future. Harris might have been drafted higher a year ago, but he will have less expectations wherever he is drafted. Returning to school may have been the best decision because as he prefers to let his game speak volume.

9. Rodney Hood- Duke University

The transfer from Mississippi State has been an incredible acquisition to Duke this season. Rodney Hood can score the ball at an efficient rate, shooting 51% from the field. He is not the type of athlete who is willing to defend the best perimeter player, but has the opportunity to flourish at the next level with his size and ability on the offensive end.

8. Noah Vonleh- Indiana University

Noah Vonleh is an outstanding freshman who has a lot of promise to his game. While being a raw talent on offense, Vonleh’s athleticism combined with his length and versatility makes him a hot commodity providing defense and rebounding to his team. He will only get better as the season progresses and adjusts to the speed of college basketball.

Southern University v Arizona

7. Aaron Gordon University of Arizona

Aaron Gordon is arguably the most athletic prospect this season. Gordon draws many comparisons to All-Star forward Blake Griffin with his high motor on both ends of the court, posting 5 double doubles thus far. However, Gordon’s true position may be in question in the NBA being undersize as a power forward and perimeter play being a detriment to his game. He hardly handles the ball for Arizona, so the combine and private sessions with teams will determine where he will play.

6. Dante Exum- Australia

Dante Exum can play both guard positions while possessing the combination of athleticism and finesse skills. The Australian point guard is explosive as a scorer and ball handler that many rave about. His perimeter jump shot is still improving, being a huge weakness for Exum. It also helps that he is 6’6 adds an element to his game giving him the advantage to look over defenders at the point guard position.

5. Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State University

Marcus Smart has became the best combo guard in College Basketball. The 6’4″ sophomore guard has exceptional size and strength that will serve him as an asset at the next level. While needing to improve his court vision and jump shot, Smart is a crafty scorer who can also defend both guard positions very well.

4. Julius Randle- University of Kentucky

You can make the argument that Julius Randle may be the most ready to play in a NBA game today amongst these prospects. Having similarities to Zach Randolph, the dominant freshman can score and rebound the basketball with his athleticism and strength around the basket. Standing at 6’9″, Randle may be undersized to play the power forward position in the league. His athleticism, sheer strength, and bulldog demeanor will allow him to contend with the NBA’s big men.

3. Joel Embiid- Kansas University

Joel Embiid is the most coveted center in this season’s upcoming draft. While improving his offense, Embiid has shown flashes in the low post area that has became a lost art in today’s big men. He has also proven to be an anchor on the defensive end with his length, size, and potential drawing comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. He has a slight frame, but he is young. Working with NBA trainers will allow him to improve his strength and be able to withstand the rigors of an 82 game season.

2. Andrew Wiggins- Kansas University

Andrew Wiggins is the most coveted college player to enter the draft this season. Wiggins has the athleticism and length that has NBA scouts salivating. He is a great defender who can guard both wing positions. His offensive game is predicated on slashing to the rim, but he has also shown that he is able to knock down the three point shot. However, he will need to knock that shot down at a consistent rate to keep opposing players on their heels on defense.

1. Jabari Parker- Duke University

Parker is ready to play in the NBA right now. He is a high volume scorer while being a blue collar hard nosed player who leads by example. He goes through shooting slumps during games, but is never hesitant to rise to the big occasion. On the other end, Parker will not change the impact during the course of the game on the defensive end as he continues to improve as a player. Still, Jabari Parker is one of few players who can have an immediate impact on a NBA team today.