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NBA Draft: Stock Watch, Final Four

Tue, 04/06/2010 - 1:09pm

Regardless of level of play or outcome, Monday's final was one of the most exciting NCAA championship games ever. The game featured 15 lead changes and was highly competitive throughout. For many, it was the perfect good vs. evil story, with the underdog Butler Bulldogs against the everyone-loves-to-hate-Dukies. Gordon Hayward had two chances at the end with shots that could have given Butler the win. The entire NCAA season came down to a matter of inches with Hayward's half court heave banking of the back board and lipping out. Hard to imagine a closer title game and finish and many are saying that had Hayward's final shot fallen, it would have been the greatest NCAA final ever.

Although this year's Final Four wasn't the NBA scout's prospect paradise of a standard year, there were still some central figures whose stocks were affected.

Rising

Kyle Singler 6-8 220 SF Duke Jr.

Kyle SinglerKyle SinglerSingler will likely take his time before making a decision about entering this years draft and he has a tough one to make. He has an excellent chance to be a first rounder after such an impressive tourney performance.

And after seeing what happened to Da'Sean Butler, it was a healthy reminder that for the billions of dollars that college hoops generates for the NCAA and networks, there are no guarantees for players, and an injury can change things in an instant. Players can take out insurance policies, but they generally only cover a player if they are never able to play again, which is an unlikely scenario.

Then again the lure to return to Duke and legitimate chance to duplicate what Florida was able to do four years ago, winning back-to-back titles, has to weigh on his mind. With the No. 1 point guard recruit in the country, Kyrie Irving, joining the team, the Blue Devils could be a preseason favorite.

Singler was sensational in the title game, showing why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. Rivals.com rated him No. 5 overall in one of the deepest and most talented classes ever. (For example, Blake Griffin and Evan Turner were rated 23rd and 49th, respectively).

The junior forward averaged 18 ppg on 44 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent on 3-pointers, as well as grabbing 7.3 rpg in the tournament. During the Final Four, he took over, going for 21 points and nine rebounds against West Virginia and 19 points and nine rebounds against Butler shooting 50 percent or higher in both games.

A very clutch player, Singler made numerous big plays in the title game and throughout the tournament, really. Whenever Duke needed a key basket, aside from one key miss late vs Butler, he was there to provide it; knocking down a clutch three pointer or providing a key block late in the game.

Singler's not the most gifted athlete, showing difficulty getting by his man on one occasion in the second half as he was called for a change. But his all around feel for the game, shooting ability and clutch play make him a likely first round pick in this year's draft if he decides to enter.

Is he a better prospect than
Gordon Hayward at this point? It depends who you ask. Scouts seem to be split right down the middle on that. But with his better title game performance, scouts are beginning to lean towards Singler.

Jon Scheyer 6-4 180 SG/PG Duke Sr.

Jon ScheyerJon ScheyerThe Duke combo guard often gets compared to JJ Redick as similar sized, below average athletes that starred at Duke.

But the major difference between the two is that Scheyer has much better all around skills, but lacks any one area of his game that he stands out in for the next level. Redick lacks Scheyer's versatility but his ability to shoot gives him an NBA role.

Will Scheyer be able to carve out a role at the next level? That is a tough question. Scouts are giving him a decent chance to be drafted after Duke won the title. There has always been a tendency for teams to go after players from NCAA tournament winners.

Did Jon Scheyer become a different player because Gordon Hayward's shot rimmed out instead of going in? No of course not. Yet his draft stock, along with Singler's and Hayward's, was certainly affected.

It's hard to get too excited about Scheyer when you consider JJ Redick was a lottery pick and much more highly touted as a senior but hasn't lived up to the hype.

The senior guard averaged 16 ppg on 38 percent shooting. His 24 assists to seven turnovers showed how solid a decision maker he is.

He also showed what a clutch player he is getting a key tip in late in the game, just wanting it more than the other players around the ball. He finished with 15 pts on 5 of 12 shooting.

Scheyer shoots the ball well and shows the versatility to play both guard spots. But scouts question his athleticism, in particular his speed and strength and ability to defend at the next level. If Scheyer can prove that he can legitimately play the point guard position, he'll have a chance to make a team.

Devin Ebanks 6-7 203 SF West Virginia So.

Devin EbanksDevin EbanksNot much has changed with Ebanks. He had 11 points on 5-8 shooting against Duke providing length and athleticism defensively making things more difficult for the Blue Devils.

He's unable to take over a game offensively, but over the course of the tournament, did prove to be a clutch free throw shooter and displayed an intriguing all around game. Over the Mountaineers' five tourney games, he averaged 13 ppg on 45 percent shooting, 7.4 rpg and impressively knocked down 27 of 29 free throws.

Those that weren't high on Ebanks before the tournament, for the most part have not changed their opinions. And those that liked Ebanks beforehand, still like him.

He obviously has a long ways to go offensively, and how much slack Ebanks should be cut for the hand injury and it's affect on his shot depends on whom you talk to.

Detractors point to the fact that he's never been much of an offensive player. Concerns are mentioned about a questionable attitude. Others feel he's a young, raw talent who just needs to mature.

He's a bit of a project but is seen as a player with solid potential, who if he decied to enter should find a spot in the mid-to-late first round after a solid showing in the tournament.

Falling

DaSean Butler 6-7 210 SF West Virginia Sr.

Da'Sean ButlerDa'Sean ButlerOn the day it was announced Butler had won the Senior Class award, he suffers an injury that has since been diagnosed as a torn ACL and bruised MCL.

You couldn't help but think of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" as Butler writhed on the court in agony, his college career obviously over and and any chances of being a first round pick gone with it.

Butler is a kid who has done everything the right way. Sources say he never partied and didn't drink throughout his entire college career. His entire focus has been basketball and academics and improving his life.

He had been so clutch and so good that a player who honestly had no business being a first-round pick, based on his below average NBA athleticism, was projected by most scouts as a late first rounder.

With just 7 minutes left in the Final Four game, Butler drove to the basket, made a sharp cut as Duke bigman Brian Zoubek closed in and crumpled to the floor in agony as his left leg gave out. Coach Bob Huggins would join him on the court, practically laying on top of him showing a softer side that people don't normally associate with the coach. Huggins appeared completely oblivious of the crowd and national audience as he tenderly consoled his fallen star. He would later explain that Butler wasn't even worried about himself or his draft stock, he was upset that he had let the team down.

A true class act, Butler's stock has taken a major hit as scouts feel he could possibly go undrafted since he won't be able to work out for teams and there is no knowing what kind of shape his knee will be in after rehabbing it. But due to Butler's strong character and potential to be a contributor, there is a good chance a team will draft him in the mid-late 2nd round and look past the injury.

Butler is looking at a long road back with surgery scheduled and no set time frame known. But it will likely be three to four months of rest and then could be upwards of another 6-8 months of rehab before he can get back on the court. Best of luck to Da'Sean Butler, a class act.

Gordon HaywardGordon HaywardGordon Hayward 6-8 215 SF Duke Jr.

America's favorite Cinderfella was just an inch away from immortality. The difference between making and missing that final shot is likely the difference between going eight to 10 spots higher in the draft.

At the end of the day that seems pretty ridiculous considering a Murray State 3-pointer could have just as easily knocked Butler out in the second round and would Hayward really have been any different an NBA player?

The only difference, if Hayward had made that final shot, is that he would have been an NCAA champion, been showered with praise and not gone through the agony of defeat. But as they say, adversity makes you stronger, right?

Hayward had a miserable night. He just could not get his shots to fall, and credit Duke's defense for making things difficult for him. His 12-point, 2-of-11-shooting night put a damper on what had been a dream run for the sophomore out of the Horizon League.

Despite the disappointing final, Hayward remains a likely mid-to-late first rounder after taking Butler on an improbable run to the NCAA title game.

shangrila
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Butler

Sad to see what happened to him. Hopefully he gets drafted, as I doubt there's anyone in the NCAA right now that has earnt it more then him.

Bobby_Z
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I hope Butler gets drafted

I hope Butler gets drafted but honestly I'm pessimistic about that. When you see how many teams passed on Dejuan Blair for his lack of ACL thing, he wasn't even injured...

Of course with a late secound it's not a risky pick, and teams with no roster spot available this year or with a lot of picks can use one on him...

slugga_status
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Butler

He'll get drafted in the second round. To me, when he gets healthy he's still better then most who will get drafted in the second round. Sad way to finish but I'm not counting out a team taking a chance on him.

Portugoose
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Hayward's Stock

No mention of the Michigan State game or his defensive effort in both games? At worst I'd say his stock is neutral, provided that Butler was predicted by 95% of American basketball pundits to lose to MSU and lose by double digits to Duke.

rtbt
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Excellent Article from Aran

I think this is one of the best, if not the best article, ever from Aran. His subtle points about one shot here or there making a significant difference in a player's draft slot was so true.

Of course, like most people, seeing that tragic injury to a high character guy like DaSean Butler was gut wrenching. As Aran said, he's a young man who did everything right and one freak play will cost him big time.

If he can fully recover from the injury, I think DaSean Butler will have a very productive NBA career. It may seem like the end of the world today, but he's only 23 years old and I hope that down the road, he will be one of the major success stories from the list of 2010 draft eligible players.

tomdeneen
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Gordon Hayward

The two guards on Butler did not so much as look at Hayward in the first half of the Championship game. One of his few touches was an extremely athletic put back, 18 inches above the rim and in traffic. This guy will be drafted in the first round - middle. Blame the lack of production in the championship on the guard that went 1 for 13 and the coach for not managing and adjusting to what his players were doing!

tomdeneen
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Gordon Hayward

The two guards on Butler did not so much as look at Hayward in the first half of the Championship game. One of his few touches was an extremely athletic put back, 18 inches above the rim and in traffic. This guy will be drafted in the first round - middle. Blame the lack of production in the championship on the guard that went 1 for 13 and the coach for not managing and adjusting to what his players were doing!

mjwaters1
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Stereotypes

Way to fall right in line with the stereotypical thinking of most sportswriters. Singler holds Da'Sean Butler to 2 of 8 shooting and Gordan Hayward to 2 of 11 shooting, and what does Smith write about...his all around feel for the game, shooting ability and clutch play. There is no mention of his defense. I thought it was one of the most impressive defensive performances that I can remember in a Final 4. He did note that Singler is not the most gifted athlete, showing difficulty getting by his man on ONE occasion. On that one play, he did get by his man, but Howard made a good play by stepping in, and taking the charge. He looked to me like he could get the shot he wanted on most occasions. On the other hand, Smith did note that Devin Ebanks provided length and athleticism defensively making things more difficult for the Blue Devils. Well, it must not have too difficult for them. Also, West Virginia played a lot of 1-3-1 zone. I'm so sick of this tired, lazy thinking by the "experts".

Amy
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