Stock Watch: NCAA Tournament
By Aran Smith
No one was more impressive in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament than Tyler Hansbrough as he carried the Tar Heels to victory in a close-fought battle with Louisville, converting numerous key baskets in the closing minutes.
Hansbrough's will to succeed is as strong as any player on the college level and he's showing improving range which is an area of his game that was in question before the season.
His incredible desire and intensity is his most intriguing attribute for the NBA level. And although he can't be expected to become a star at the next level, he's seen as a tremendous energy player and locker room influence.
"Psycho T" will surely win the National Player of the Year award after leading the Tar Heels to the Final Four with just two losses on the season. His statistics may not equal K-State's Michael Beasley, but his impact and North Carolina's success will trump their statistical discrepancy.
Hansbrough's 28 (12-17 fg) and 13 rebounds hitting two key outside shots in the closing minutes against Louisville, showed his amazing ability to step up in the clutch.
Though he's unorthodox, some might even say spastic, and runs like he rides horses all day, there's no knocking the results. He's one of those guys that finds a way, by willing the ball into the basket.
Hansbrough will undoubtedly break UNC's all time scoring mark if he returns for his senior season. He's a kid who enjoys school and wants very much to bring a national championship to Tobacco Road. So his decision to enter the draft this season will likely hinge on whether North Carolina can cut the nets down in San Antonio.
An MVP performance with North Carolina winning the national championship could elevate him into a top 20 pick in the 2008 draft.
Leading Memphis back to the Final Four for the first time since 1985, Derrick Rose has proven to be as valuable to his team as any freshman in the country.
His thorough domination of fellow draft prospect DJ Augustin, a player many people felt was the best point guard in the nation this year, proved exactly where Rose stands among college point guards: at the top.
Rose held the standout sophomore to 4-of-18 shooting and 3 assists with 4 turnovers, while shooting 7-of-10 with 21 points and 9 assists to 2 turnovers.
He had 17 points in each of the tournament's first weekend games and "rose" that to 27 in the Sweet Sixteen game against Michigan State, and the aforementioned 21 against the Longhorns in their Elite Eight match up.
His ability to play the point guard position, as a true floor general plus his off the charts athletic gifts make him a future franchise point guard at the next level.
He is certain to be grouped together with Chris Paul and Deron Williams, as the next generation of NBA point guards, and with physical gifts eclipsing the other two, the trio should battle for NBA point guard supremacy for years to come.
A Memphis National Championship could make Rose the top overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Derrick Brown has flown somewhat under the radar all season playing on a balanced Xavier team with a number of quality seniors.
[img_assist|nid=3377|title=Derrick Brown - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=450]He's been rated as a top 20 sophomore in an extremely deep and talented class, and in the tournament has been very impressive.
His 19 points and 11 boards in the first round against Georgia was his best statistical effort, but he flashed his immense talent throughout the tourney.
Over the Muskateer's four tournament games, Brown averaged 12.25 ppg, 5.75 rpg and an amazingly effective 74% (20-27) from the floor.
His signature play was against UCLA as he went baseline on Kevin Love and left the big fella's feet nailed to the floor, breezing by him for a highlight dunk. He also had a very impressive dunk in traffic coming off a rebound. He ended up Xavier's high scorer in the game with 13 points on 6-8 from the floor.
His length and athleticism are standout, and he's beginning to develop the ability to get to the rim off the dribble.
While he's still got a lot of work to do on his game, he shows a great deal of potential and should assume a much bigger role next season with the departure of seniors Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell, and Josh Duncan.
Brown's trio of senior teammates all have a chance to be excellent pros playing overseas. Brown will have a chance to play himself into a lottery pick in 2009.
With Louisville's impressive run to the Elite Eight, Earl Clark raised his level of play with great consistency and efficiency throughout the tournament.
[img_assist|nid=3378|title=Earl Clark - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=455]Over Louisville's four games, Clark averaged 14.5 ppg, 8.25 rpg on 62% (23-37) shooting.
He's been considered the Cardinals top prospect all season, but hit a wall early in the year and struggled to live up to expectations. Finishing the season strong should give him a springboard for a great junior year, provided he doesn't make a premature exit to the NBA.
Clark's versatility on both ends of the floor make him an extremely valuable player. He has the length to disrupt passing lanes as well as the foot speed to be a disruptive on ball defender.
Offensively he has the ball handling and passing skills to run the break and make plays for others or finish at the rim.
Clark shows a lot of potential, but still has some major holes to his game. His first order of business should be working on his jumpshot which has decent form but lacks consistency (23% from 3).
Developing shooting confidence through repetition in the off-season should allow Clark to break out next season and potentially become a lottery pick in 2009.
Chalmers has been a model of consistency throughout the tournament. In four games, he hasn't scored below 13, or above 17 in any game averaging 15 on 53% (20/38) shooting.
He is also doing a solid job of protecting the ball with a 12-5 (nearly 2.5) a/to ratio, while snagging 2.5 steals per game as well.
[img_assist|nid=3379|title=Mario Chalmers - Icon SMI |desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=450]Chalmers has displayed excellent shooting all season and though he hasn't broken out for a huge performance like he did in the Big 12 Conference final, scoring 30 points in Kansas win over Texas, he has been very solid.
He possesses great size and athleticism for the point guard position, but questions linger about his ability to run a team.
With Russell Robinson and Sharron Collins sharing the backcourt with Chalmers, the point guard responsibilities are platooned, leaving some doubt about Chamers ability to be a full time PG.
Chalmers and his Jawhawk's pending performance over the weekend will go a long way in determining whether or not the junior PG can expect to be taken in the first round this year.
Cinderella may be dead, but it sure took a while. Despite failing to get off a final shot against Kansas, Curry lifting Davidson all the way to the Elite Eight and a possession away from the Final Four has his stock continuing to rise.
His 33 points against Wisconsin, leading the charge as the Wildcats blew the Badgers out of the building with a late game surge, was another chapter in the legend of Curry.
Davidson's star guard has stated that he will return to school. His body can surely develop a lot in the next season or two and he should be able to maintain his lofty draft status with continued excellent play.
He has what it takes to be a scorer at the next level with his great ability to get shots off and excellent quickness. If he can begin to play more at the point guard position, it will only help his development into an NBA player.
Without DJ Augustin, the Longhorns might have struggled to even make the NCAA tournament, so it's important to note just how much of a factor he has been this season.
But in their Elite Eight match up with Memphis, Augustin was thoroughly dominated by Derrick Rose.
In Augustin's four tournament games, he only performed at a high level offensively in one, against Stanford, going for 23 pts and 7 assists.
Against Memphis he was completely neutralized shooting just 4-18 for 16 points, many of which came in the closing minutes after the game had already been decided.
His inability to effectively run the offense, being physically overmatched by the bigger and more athletic Rose created cause for concern about Augustin at the next level.
While he's very good at creating shots over bigger players, his lack of size makes it a constant challenge. The bigger concern relates to his ability to defend and seeing over and being able to make passes against bigger opponents.
Augustin is still seen as a likely mid-first rounder, however similar to Jameer Nelson, his size is likely to cost him from being a lottery pick and a spot in the late teens to early 20s appears to be more realistic for him.
With as well as he played this season and with the amount of hype surrounding him, it would probably be in his best interest to cash in on his successful season and turn pro.
Once upon a time, Derrick Caracter was being billed as the next great NBA prospect. The year was 2003, and high school phenom Lebron James had just become the number one pick in the draft.
The search for the next great high school talent began and internet hype quickly grew around an unbelievably talented freshman center out of New Jersey. The sky was considered the limit for a guy who could become the next Shaq, if he grew a few inches.
He was considered about as can't miss as can't miss gets, with the ability to hang with college level players at the age of 14.
But something tragic happened to Caracter along the way. His entourage and work ethic grew in conflicting directions.
Maybe the expectations were always too great, but more likely Caracter was a victim of his own hype. A kid who was only told what he would someday become and never told what he needed to do to get there.
Unfortunately, Caracter is a shadow of the player he was just 3 years ago, and appears to be light years away from a player that can contribute anything at the NBA level.
He recently announced that he will enter the draft this year and while the talent is there, the discipline and work ethic are clearly missing.
Caracter's wake up call will likely come on draft night, when his name is not called. Or possibly in September when he fails to make an NBA roster and European teams come calling for him.
Playing minor league ball or overseas will hopefully be the wake up call he needs to rededicate himself and begin to realize his NBA talent. Hopefully something wakes him up, before any hope of an NBA career is lost.
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