This edition of our Stock Watch focuses on the rounds of Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four. While it’s important not to overvalue the performances of these games, as each player’s full season body of work holds greater weight, how players perform under pressure is a key piece to the overall puzzle. Here is a look at how the top remaining prospect’s performances affected their stock.

Zach Edey 7-4 300 C Purdue Sr.

Edey had a tremendous NCAA tournament finishing with 177 points, (29.5 ppg)  tied for second all time, and behind only Glen Rice’s 184 in Michigan’s 1989 title run.  Edey’s Boilermakers fell to UConn, but Edey proved that he’s a clutch performer. He converted numerous post moves and hook shots throughout the tournament and played extremely physical. In the final, Edey put up 37 and 9 against a defensive standout in Donovan Clingan. Edey clearly got the upper hand in the match up, granted he’s a few year’s older than the Husky Center. Edey showed that he’s extremely motivated, and the hard work on his body and game have paid off. The negatives when projecting Edey to the next level are that he gets lost in space defensively and players can easily drive by him, making him a liability on switches and pick and pops. On offense, his inability to have much of a game beyond the paint is limiting as a spacer. He also tends to put the ball on the floor, in order to gain rhythm and momentum, for multiple dribbles, which will make him easier to exploit facing NBA players. Despite being one of the most dominant forces on the college level in years and an inspiration and ambassador for the college game over the past few seasons, the NBA game is a different animal. He will have to learn to speed up his game further and figure out ways to not get stripped of the ball as he makes his offensive moves. There’s a place for him at the next level, something that was not a certainty before the season, but the expectation may need to be tempered some as he is likely to play more of a Boban Marjanovic, specialist role, than become an everyday starter. Whether or not he can be a first round pick on draft night depends on who you ask. There is the question of how he blends into a team’s offense. The fact that it is a weak draft, lacking depth, helps his cause. Look for Edey to find a spot in the late first to early second round, following one of the most dominant NCAA tourney runs and careers in recent memory. Edey said it and it’s true, people have doubted him every step of the way, and there’s no reason to think it will be any different at the NBA level.

Dalton Knecht 6-9 220 SG/SF Tennessee Sr.

Knecht put up 37 in his final college game, a game that will go down as one of the all time great match ups between the top two performers in college basketball this season. If Zach Edey had not returned to college hoops this year, there’s a good chance that Knecht would have been National Player of the year. The Purdue-Tennessee match up was one of the best games of the tournament, and had the feel of a heavyweight title fight with Knecht and Edey trading blow for blow,  Knecht showcased the entire package, knocking down 6/12 from three. On one play displaying his underrated athleticism, making a steal and going behind his back to allude a defender on the way to a full court jam. He missed a couple of key three pointers late, but it was still an incredible performance and Tennessee gave Purdue everything they could handle in their Elite Eight match up. Knecht’s defense remains a concern for scouts, but he plays the position that seems easiest to hide a less athletic defender. Knecht figures to be taken in the mid-lottery, and in a draft devoid of sure things, has a chance to crack the top 3-5.

Donovan Clingan 7-2 270 C UConn So.

Clingan clearly helped his cause in the NCAA tournament with a number of dominant performances. He averaged 15.3 ppg and 8.3 rebounds, 2 points and 1 rebound above his season averages. And was a force in four of the six games. Two seasons and two titles, you could say, “all he does is win”. It’s clear that Clingan is one of a small handful of quality center prospects available for this year’s draft. He struggled some in the final against Edey, and was unable to contain him ending with just 11 points, with 4 of those points coming late on two garbage buckets. Clingan has received some top 3 pick media hype and while we like him for the next level as a Jakob Poeltl type of center, there are some potential limitations to consider. 55% from the FT line and no real ability to score away from the basket cannot be overlooked. UConn made its decisive run to pull away from Purdue in the second half with Clingan on the bench. The flow of an NBA team is a large consideration as a player that needs extra time to get up the floor, or is just a step slow to get their feet moving, as well as make moves when they receive the ball, has a major effect. Clingan is considered by some as a potential defensive standout for the next level, and there’s no question his rim protection is very intriguing. His analytics are comparable to Walker Kessler, from his sophomore year, with just 3 less minutes played 25 to 22 and 2 less blocks per game. 4.5 to 2.5. Despite this, Zach Edey had no trouble going right through Clingan on the block, physically dominating him, finishing with 37 and 9. The real area of concern, however, is how Clingan can move his feet when he gets isolated on, in space, in pick and roll/pop situations. And how much guards can create separation against him. The over 7-foot centers (Not named Wemby, Embiid, and Gobert)  in the NBA today generally see their minutes shrink significantly as games become more important. He runs well and has certainly worked hard at improving as a defender in space, as any bigman with NBA aspirations is training for precisely that. But the bold claims about how high he may go should probably be tempered some by the fact that the new era is not kind to slower, colossal players. With all the concerns out of the way, his positive contribution to a back to back championship team is unmistakable. He’s a massive center with pretty good mobility and great timing for blocks. He’s got a mean streak that you love to see in a center. And he’s got a lot of hype from the media at large, which should give him a real chance to be a lottery pick in late June.

Terrence Shannon 6-6 220 SG Illinois Sr.

Shannon’s season came to a screeching halt in a blowout loss to eventual champion UConn. The Fighting Illini got completely blitzed and it seemed the strategy to attack Donovan Clingan and not adjusting to his dominant defensive play in the paint backfired. Shannon made just 2-12 fgs and finished with only 8 points. he got his shot stuffed on numerous occasions and despite a great season, the final game was not pretty. Shannon fared much better in their Sweet Sixteen win over Iowa State showcasing his full abilities with 29 points, making some incredibly fast jaunts to the rim off of steals, and knocking down 4-10 from three point. Shannon has a shot to go in the top 10 on draft night if the legal case against him gets resolved, and he’s able to impress teams in individual workouts and interviews.

Stephon Castle 6-6 190 SG/SF UConn Fr.

Castle was UConn’s top performer in their Final Four win over Alabama. In a wide open contest, Castle was able to utilize his athleticism and excellent guard skills to impact the game, finishing with a team high 21 points. He knocked down 7-13 from the floor and 2-6 from three. His three point numbers really fell off towards the end of the season, after climbing as high as 34%, they dipped to 26% to close out the year. But when he gets time to get his feet set, his release looks good. He hit 3-10 in the two games of the Final Four from deep. he seems to thrive more in creating off the dribble and affecting the game with his defensive prowess. He’s got some intriguing combo guard abilities that give him a chance to be a lottery pick. There are still concerns about his shooting, and it’s likely to be what keeps him from going too high, but there’s a lot to like with him as the best wing defender among the first round prospects.

Grant Nelson 6-11 240 PF/C Alabama Sr.

Nelson struggled to perform to his abilities consistently for much of the season, but his huge 24 point signature game, leading  Alabama past 1 seed UNC was one of the memorable individual performances of the NCAA tournament. He would not let the Crimson Tide lose, playing possessed in the final minutes and knocking down key shots, driving, getting to the line numerous times and and making huge plays to ensure the victory. he had an And-1 in the final minute to give the Tide a lead they would not relinquish. Nelson is a solid athlete with very good size and showed that he plays with a lot of heart when the chips are down. Nelson performed well once again despite Alabama losing to UConn in the Final Four. His 19 points stood out as one of the lone bright spots. He likely ensured a draft position with his big performances, but will need to show out in the pre-draft buildup to ensure a draft spot.

Stock Down

Tyrese Proctor 6-3 195 PG/SG Duke Fr.

Proctor had a decent showing against Houston in their Sweet Sixteen win going for nine points on 3-8 shooting with four assists. But he was a complete no show in their Elite Eight loss to NC State going for zero points on 0-9 shooting. It put an end to a miserable season and had scouts wondering if Proctor is ever going to be an NBA draft pick. He has time with multiple years of eligibility left and the option to play in Australia if playing in the NBA doesn’t work out. But it appears he lacked the focus and aggressiveness necessary  to succeed and will need to reassess how he approaches the game going forward beginning with attacking the weight room with a lot more intensity.


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