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Stock Watch: National Championship

Sun, 04/13/2008 - 9:38pm

Stock Watch: National Championship

By Aran Smith
4/14/08

After taking a week to digest the final game and speaking with NBA scouts about the top prospects, here's a look at who helped and hurt themselves in last Monday's National Championship game.

Rising

[img_assist|nid=3341|title=Mario Chalmers - Icon SMI |desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=429]Mario Chalmers 6-2 181 PG Kansas Jr.

The shot heard round the basketball world helped put the Jayhawks in position to win their first National Championship in 20 years and four days from when assistant coach Danny Manning and the miracles cut down the nets.

The game tying shot by Mario Chalmers was a thing of beauty and will certainly go down with Michael Jordan, Keith Smart, and Scottie Thurmon as one of the greatest late game shots in NCAA Championship game history.

Although Mario Chalmers last second three pointer didn't win the game, it effectively did, as without Dorsey (fouled out) and a huge momentum swing, Memphis essentially ran out of gas.

It was also Chalmers who fouled Joey Dorsey out of the game at the beginning of Kansas' comeback late in the game.

Chalmers clutch shot won't make him a lottery pick, but with Kansas winning and with a solid performance throughout the tournament, including the final shot, he's certainly locked up a spot in the first round.

There are still concerns about his ability to effectively run a team, but with clutch shooting ability and size and defense in his favor, there's no reason to think he can't succeed with a team in a similar fashion as Daniel Gibson with Cleveland as a guy who spreads the floor and knocks down outside shots.

"Super" Mario was the first point guard to match up with Derrick Rose in the tourney and finish with the upper hand. While Chalmers has yet to make a decision about the draft, he's considered likely to ride the wave of his championship success to being a first round pick this year.

[img_assist|nid=3342|title=Darrell Arthur - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=498]Darrell Arthur 6-9 230 PF Kansas So.

While Arthur didn't have a superb overall tournament, he stepped up big when it mattered most with a 20 and 10 point effort in the championship game. His clutch basket, a turn around jumpshot which he created for himself off a post move, cut the lead to 2 in the closing minute.

Arthur had a solid year statistically but wasn't the dominant force that some believed he could be struggling at times with consistency and focus.

In the four games leading up to the National Championship game, Arthur had single digits in both the scoring and rebound columns.

He found a favorable match up in the title game with Robert Dozier, and abused him going 9-13 from the floor. His physical strength was too much for Dozier to handle, and the Jayhawks exploited the mismatch throughout the contest.

For the next level, Arthur is still on the light side to play in the post and will need to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle to successfully fight for rebounds and bang under the basket.

He has the most potential of any of the Jayhawks. And although he's further away from being able to contribute at the next level than some of the other top prospects, his speed, athleticism and potential make him a possible lottery pick in this year's draft should he enter his name as expected.

Derrick Rose 6-3 195 PG Memphis Fr.

It will always be the one that got away for Rose, shooting one of two from the line and seeing the game slip through his fingers as the ball splashed through the net at the other end just 8 seconds later.

But Rose's tournament performance was impressive enough to maintain the pole position for the top overall pick in this year's draft.

[img_assist|nid=3343|title=Derrick Rose - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=429]Rose struggled to dominate early the way he had in Memphis' earlier rounds, taking the opposing point guard out of their games. But he did take over the game late. Using his incredible speed off the dribble, he scored on four straight possessions to extend Memphis lead to 9 points with just 2 minutes remaining.

But in the end it wasn't meant to be, as the Jayhawks found great composure and Memphis stumbled, missing their free throws down the stretch.

Rose played all 45 minutes of the overtime game, and the lack of a breather had an apparent affect on the dynamo. Rose finished with 18 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Rose wasn't able to bring a championship to Memphis, but his unprecedented dominance throughout the tournament made it impossible to fault opposing point guards (Collison, Augustin, etc) for dreadful performances.

With the success that Chris Paul and Deron Williams have brought their respective NBA teams, the premium on elite point guards is at an all time high. In essence, Paul and Williams have helped Rose's cause in becoming the top overall pick this year.

Whether or not Rose eventually goes first will likely have to do with the team that wins the top pick, but all things being equal, Rose has shown that he deserves to be the top overall pick as he's an impact player and a future superstar at the next level.

Michael Beasley had the bigger statistical impact, but Rose has made his impact felt in wins and losses. His ability to play the point guard position and make everyone else around him better, as well as dominate both ends of the floor with his amazing athleticism and strength makes him a can't miss franchise talent with tremendous value.

Brandon Rush 6-6 210 SF Kansas Jr.

When Rush tore his ACL in a scrimmage after last season, it effectively put the Jayhawks in position to win the national championship. Rush had already entered his name in the draft, and was likely to keep his name in, but the injury forced him to return for his junior season.

[img_assist|nid=3344|title=Brandon Rush - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=454]The Kansas standout had a very impressive tournament and a solid performance in the title game. He did a good job defending CDR, holding him to 7-16 shooting and shooting an effective 5-9 from the floor for 12 pts himself. Rush's athleticism and outside shooting was instrumental in the Jayhawks six wins in the tournament, and he's sure to parlay that into a spot in the mid-first round area.

He scored on a number of runners, showing his excellent body control and ability to finish around the basket. He's one of the elite level wing forward athletes on the college level and has the type of athleticism that will fit well into the NBA.

Four years ago, in the summer of 2004, Rush and Gerald Green squared off against each other in Las Vegas in the Big Time tournament. Both were athletic specimen types but Green was the more complete player with greater intrigue due to his shooting touch, athleticism and all around skills. With three years of college ball under his belt, now it's Rush who appears to have the better long term NBA potential. Further proof that the college rule is a good idea.

While he still must improve on his ball handling ability, he has the shooting and defensive skills that should make him an instant contributor provided he ends up in the right situation next year.

Rush has long been a guy that has been criticized for being an underachiever and unable to deliver in big moments, but with the Jayhawks winning a national championship, a lot of those criticisms have been answered.

Rush is a solid kid who seems to have learned from the mistakes of his older brother JaRon, and staying in school for three years and developing his game has him in great position to find success at the next level.

Sherron Collins 5-11 180 PG Kansas So.

It's safe to say that without Sherron Collins, the Jayhawks would not have won the National title. He was the spark plug both offensively and defensively that Kansas turned to when their backs were against the wall.

The fellow Chi-town PG proved to be kryptonite for Derrick Rose coming off the bench to hold him scoreless for a 16 minute span of the first half. He provided the necessary quickness, strength and toughness to contain Rose on his drives, limiting the star to just 3 first half points on 1/4 shooting.

Collins had a team high 6 assists and 11 points off the bench playing an instrumental 34 minutes. His key steal with 2 minutes to go and subsequent 3 pointer cut the Memphis lead from 7 to 3 spearheading them on their way to mount the comeback.

Despite a lack of great size, Collins is projected as a possible late first rounder for the 2009 draft.

Falling

[img_assist|nid=3345|title=Chris Douglas-Roberts - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=429]Chris Douglas-Roberts 6-7 200 SG Memphis Jr.

CDR had such a tremendous season, earning first team All America honors and helped Memphis reach the title game, but his 0-3 free throw choke job in the final minute certainly didn't help his cause.

He had another excellent game statistically with a game high 22 points on 7-16 shooting, his trademark push shot which he uses to perfection off the dribble, catches opponents completely off guard and he was at times successful in using it against one of the better wing defenders in the country in Brandon Rush.

CDR had been so clutch all season, but in the closing minute he looked visible shaken shooting free throws. The pressure of the moment had gotten to him, and it proved costly for Douglas-Roberts and the Tigers.

He also lost his composure following the misses, with 10 seconds left slamming the ball to the floor, which could have been a tragic mistake if not for the composure of the veteran officiating crew which took the game situation into account and wisely made a no call.

While CDR is still a likely first rounder, the missed free throws certainly have had a negative affect on his draft stock. His tremendous season, and impressive tournament should be enough to land him in the first round, but a national championship could have really boosted his stock.

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