NCAA Tourney: Stock Watch
Derrick Williams 6-9 241 PF Arizona So.
Against heavily favored Duke in the Sweet Sixteen, Williams had the most transcendent performance of any college player all season.
You will remember in mid-January when we controversially placed Derrick Williams as the #1 pick on our mock draft, no other draft pundit had him in their top 12 at the time. We received a fair amount of skepticism from NBA scouts. "You're always trying to hit a home run!", we heard. But we're known for making bold moves and not following the herd. Now everyone considers Williams a legitimate possibility to go first overall.
Taking the Wildcats to the Elite Eight without a great supporting cast showed that Williams is not just a flashy prospect with upside. He's the most NBA ready player available, having shown the ability to have a huge impact at the college level.
Williams performance against Duke really raised eyebrows among scouts. He absolutely took over the game, outclassing the Blue Devils's frontcourt and outperforming #1 pick candidate Kyrie Irving (who had 28 points of his own).
When things began to get away from Arizona in the first half, Williams came up with all of the big shots to keep them in the game. He refused to allow his team to lose.
The talented Wildcat hit five 3 point shots in the first half including one with a second left on the clock over Duke's Ryan Kelly to pull to lead to 6. This proved to be key as Arizona came out in the second half and quickly took command of the game building a double digit lead behind their sophomore sensation. Williams was unstoppable scoring a career high 32 points and 13 boards.
Despite getting into foul trouble and missing a potential game winning 3 pointer in the closing minutes and losing to UConn in their Elite Eight match up, Williams stock continues to climb.
His 20 points in 26 minutes against UConn were limited by his foul problems. He made a terrible foul (his 3rd) late in the first half on Alex Oriakhi, instead of conceding a lay up. This gave UConn command of the game as they were able to have their way with Arizona without their star on the floor. They also became much more aggressive attacking Williams in the second half, making him less effective defensively.
Williams also settled for too many 3 pointers in the second half, granted he knocked them down all year. But his final 3 point shot was forced and skipped off the rim. His season and a tremendous (though short) college career likely over.
Despite not getting to the Final Four, Williams exceeded expectations and showed all tourney why he's so highly regarded. It's hard to find anyone that doesn't consider him a top 3-5 pick now. He remains our pick to go first, but team needs are sure to factor into things this year.
Harrison Barnes 6-8 215 SF North Carolina Fr.
In the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds, Barnes continued his push for top overall pick consideration.
Despite North Carolina falling just short of the Final Four, in part due to Brandon Knight's clutch shooting, Barnes showed his ability to step up his level of play in that game.
He struggled from outside going just 2-9 from deep. But he went an 8 point scoring run in the final 5:30 to help bring the Tar Heels even with Kentucky late.
He showed us another gear and how competitive he is with an intensity that was lacking from his game early in the season.
His sense of urgency and willingness to take over was extremely encouraging late in the game. But it wasn't meant to be as the Tar Heels stumbled down the stretch.
The freshman phenom has said he's not thinking about the NBA and there is speculation that he may return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore year.
Time will tell as there are a few weeks before the April 24th deadline.
Kemba Walker 6-0 171 PG UConn Jr.
The Kemba Walker Show continues into the Final Four.
Walker's 36 point effort against SDSU was just another day at the office for the fearless game changer.
There has been a lot of debate over who the second best point guard prospect is for this year's draft. Some scouts give the nod to Kemba after his unbelievable season, while others like the size and potential of freshman Brandon Knight. Both have been sensational in the tourney, and now they will get a chance to go head to head once again (Maui) to prove themselves. Kemba destroyed Knight the first time around, but in fairness that was Knight's 5th ever collegiate game. he's a different player now.
Walker struggled in the Arizona game shooting just 1-7 from 3 but came up big when it counted leading the team to victory with a team high 20 points.
Scouts have been reluctant to call Kemba a lottery pick all year, but a trip to the Final Four and a possible national championship, plus a shrinking draft pool all but seals the deal.
If UConn wins it all, a team could potentially grab him in the top 10 picks.
Jeremy Lamb 6-5 180 SG UConn Fr.
Going into the round of 16, Lamb was placed in the top 10 of the 2012 mock draft. He made us look good with two tremendous performances against San Diego State and Arizona. He played the perfect robin to Kemba's batman with 24 points on a near perfect 9-11 shooting against SDSU, knocking down a clutch 3 pointer with under 2 minutes left.
After seeing Lamb play live in Maui earlier in the year, it's amazing to see the transformation he's made over the course of the season. He was instrumental in both of UConn's victories with his length wreaking havoc on the defensive end. His steal on Derrick Williams and finish at the other end helped give UConn the lead that would ultimately prevail.
He has shown that playing alongside Kemba has had a great effect on him, as Lamb has proven to be equally clutch as the tournament has worn on. His late game steals and big shots have been just what UConn needed.
Lamb still needs to add weight and improve upon his ball handling, but his incredible length; 7'+ wingspan and shooting ability have his stock on the rise.
How much has he risen in the minds of NBA scouts? Some feel that after Alec Burks he's the top long term NBA prospect at the position in all of college basketball!
Jamie Skeen 6-9 240 PF VCU Fr.
Skeen had a formidable match up going into the Elite Eight with the Morris Twins. His clutch 3 pointers and heroic play against the Jayhawk's mirror images was instrumental in knocking off the only one seed left in the tournament and officially blowing up everyone's NCAA tourney brackets.
His 26 and 10 were just what VCU needed from their high scorer. Skeen's 3 point shooting is no fluke as he's knocked down 33 on the year at a 40% clip.
He'll now get plenty of looks from NBA teams on the highest stage in Houston and stands an excellent chance of getting drafted due to his great length, outside shooting and big game performance.
Shelvin Mack 6-2 190 PG/SG Butler Jr.
With 2 more strong performances guiding 8 seed Butler back to the Final Four for the second year in a row, Shelvin Mack has gone from a borderline first round pick to a likely late first rounder.
Mack has drawn comparisons to former UConn star Ben Gordon for his outside shooting ability and professional mind set.
Brad Stevens is a brilliant young coach, one of the best coaching minds in the game. But you can;t get there without some talent. Reaching the Final Four once, impressive. Reaching it a second time, no fluke. It's time to give Mack his due as a bigtime winner.
A big performance in the Final Four could further enhance his draft stock.
William Buford 6-5 180 SG Ohio St. Fr.
Nobody's stock took a bigger nosedive in the Sweet 16-Elite 8 rounds than Buckeye junior William Buford.
He visibly froze up in the final minutes of the Sweet 16 match up with Kentucky.
After looking very solid in the first two rounds, Buford struggled mightily with his outside shot.
He shot a miserable 2-16 in their loss finishing with 9 points.
Buford is a smooth 2G who stood to gain a lot from a Buckeye national title.
He has announced he will return to Ohio State and will have a chance to revive his stock which appears to have dipped outside the first round.
Nolan Smith 6-3 185 PG/SG Duke Sr.
Smith really struggled with the return of Kyrie Irving. In the loss to Arizona, he shot just 3-14 from the floor. A miserable end to his college career. He'll have to hope that his body of work supersedes the final glimpse that scouts had of him in the tournament.
He's still considered a likely first rounder, however questions have been raised about whether he has a position for the next level and if he needs the ball in his hands in order to be effective.
One thing is for certain, Smith benefited greatly this year by Kyrie's injury as he never seemed to be able to find a rhythm playing alongside him.
Jimmer Fredette 6-2 190 PG BYU Sr.
Fredette hasn't fallen far, but his final college game didn't help his stock.
He had 32 points and helped an undermanned Cougars team battle to the very end taking a talented Florida team into overtime before running out of ammunition.
As he has in the past, Fredette struggled to get on track going without a FG for almost 14 minutes before finally scoring his first basket.
The speed of Florida's guards exposed Fredette to a degree as he could not contain the quickness of either Erving Walker or Kenny Boynton. He also struggled to get quality shots as the Florida defense collapsed on him affecting his efficiency.
He shot 11-29 from the floor and 3-15 from 3. He had 5 assists but 6 turnovers.
Not the way he would have liked to end his college career, but considering this team was playing without their top post player, they had an excellent run making it to the Sweet Sixteen.
The legend of Jimmer Fredette will live on both in Salt Lake City and nationally. And Fredette still stands an excellent chance to be a lottery pick.
Jon Leuer 6-10 230 PF Wisconsin Sr.
Leuer shot just 1-for-11 in his final collegiate game and just 3 points. He put up a great senior season with double figures in every game but one. Unfortunately that happened to be the biggest game of the year.
He's still a bubble first rounder and in a lockout year where teams will likely be looking for mature, polished players over projects with potential, Leuer is in a favorable position.
Getting a little cocky there Aran huh...well deserved cockiness. I have to admit I didnt like how you had D-WIll ranked 1st for such a long time, but you remained persistant and you were right on with the Derrick Williams and Jeremy Lamb insights, but didnt you have Williams as a lottery fringe player when the season began? Haha just bustin your balls you guys are doing a great job, way better than [those other guys]. Im curious too know how you project this years PG class to play and develop in the NBA, am I the only one who thinks Kermba is being vastly underrated?
Thanks for the praise. We actually loved Kemba before anyone too ;). We rated him very highly as a freshman (we liked him more than guys like Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson). Believe it or not, there were scouts still saying second round for him late in the season. He took longer to get there, but has a chance to end up better than both. If he ends up going top 10 it might actually be bad (like Flynn) because the expectations will be higher. He is so fearless at taking big shots. He is probably going to struggle some to create last second shots in the NBA because defenders will be bigger, more athletic and able to crowd him and dare him to drive by them where he will get lost in the trees, but that crossover is so deadly he creates separation with his quickness and gets his shot off very well. Which is very important since he's a midget. He needs to improve his range. But then again that was the knock on Timmy Hardaway (my all time favorite player) entering the league. Adi doesn't like that comparison, but I've always thought it fit because they have that same fearless demeanor. he still has a ways to go to get there and mastering the PG position is not a given. We've rated him low all year based on the belief that he will measure smaller than his listed 6-1 in shoes and questionable ability to make those around him better. But the proof is in the pudding, he is leading that team and nobody is beating them (so far). I think the 2nd overall PG race is very intriguing with (Knight, Kemba and Jimmer). I also think Nolan vs. Mack has become an interesting debate.
I guess he has never seen DWill or Kyrie play at all this season. SMH.
Sometimes this whole stock up, stock down thing is funny to me. William Buford is the same guy to me, despite if he scored 30 pts against kentucky or if he went 2/16 (which was really uncharacteristic of him). He's an average athlete (even for college) who has a beautiful stroke and should be a nice bench guy for his career who comes in and plays hard on D and spaces the floor on offense. He doesn't do much off the dribble, and getting to the rim, but he'll come into the league with a defined role. But its like scouts have that tourney syndrome where it clouds their evaluations. But thats just how it is though, especially with a guy like Will who was floating in that late 1st round range to begin with. He should really work on his ability to get to the rim and get to the line, 70 FTAs is just not gonna cut it for a player of his caliber.
Even though I essentially agree with most, but not all, of what Aran wrote, it still troubles me that so many people draw major conclusions about a player based upon only ONE game.
Williams has been compared a lot to David West, but I also see a lot of young Shareef Abdur-Rahim in his game, maybe a little Danny Granger. Not the biggest guy, but skilled and uses his quickness to his advantage. With Jared Sullinger returning to Ohio State, it's down to him and Kyrie Irving as potential No. 1 picks, although with Irving being injured for a huge chunk of the season, that could propel Williams as the favorite.
Always enjoy reading your articles. At the end of your article on Jimmer you say, "The legend of Jimmer Fredette will live on both in Salt Lake City and nationally." I realize it's not a big deal but for anyone locally in Utah or BYU or U of Utah fans your statement will sound funny. BYU is located about 45 minutes south of Salt Lake in Provo, Utah. The University of Utah, their biggest rival, is obviously located in Salt Lake City. The one place Jimmer is not a hero is in Salt Lake City to Ute fans who are also known locally as BYU haters. Don't get me wrong, Jimmer is popular amongst many in SLC for sure - but it is also probably where you would find more Jimmer bashers than anywhere else in the country. He's a legend in Provo for sure - Salt Lake - amongst some:)
Drills and measurements will cause Jimmer's stock to climb. People will be suprised at how athletic this supposedly unathletic kid is. Expect him to wow people with his skills. Everyone claims he is a one trick pony with his shooting - has noone seen him drive around players time after time as he takes it strong to the hoop. I understand we haven't seen him play any "D" yet but the real question is whether he can adequately play team defense since that is what the NBA is all about and I don't think he'll be any worse than the average NBA pg in that regard. The guy will not be double and triple teamed in the NBA the way he has been all season with the Cougars - he has the ability to create space for himself and get his shot off - that will not change in the NBA. I see him as a legitimate 6th man brining some scoring punch off the bench for many years in the NBA as worst case scenario.
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