The NCAA tournament provides a unique opportunity to see how a number of the upcoming draft’s top prospects perform in the spotlight, when the competition level is at it’s highest. Through the first weekend, a number of these players have seen their draft stocks fluctuate based on their play. Here is a look at some of the  notable performances, both good and bad.

Stock Up

Terrence Shannon 6-6 210 SG Illinois Sr.

Shannon (pictured) has taken one of the top teams in the country on his back and assumed a large bulk of the scoring load all season. He’s averaging 23 ppg on the season, and has had strong showings thus far through two games in the NCAA tournament with 26 and 30 against Morehead St. and Duquesne, respectively. Shannon had two monster performances going into the tourney with a 40 point and 34 point game. He is one of the older prospects, but in the post COVID era with a window of five years of potential eligibility, NBA teams have embraced the idea of drafting “more experienced” players. Over his past four games, Shannon has been sensational, averaging 32.5 ppg on a scorching 57% from the floor and 48% from three on 3.5 makes per game. Shannon has received the optimistic comparison to Jaylen Brown from some scouts due to his physical and athletic style attacking the basket. Shannon figures to be the second senior drafted, after Dalton Knecht, and is now a projected lottery pick, provided the legal issues brought against him do not sidetrack his availability.

Cody Williams 6-8 200 PG/SG Colorado Fr.

In two tourney games, Cody flashed the talent and upside that puts him in the running to be the top overall pick. With efficient shooting, he had 9 points in the play in win against Florida and then 12 points in their loss against Marquette, Cody stepped up with a number of clutch plays. He created baskets by setting up cutting teammates, along with converting baskets in isolation to help keep both games close. Against Marquette, one impressive play came on a drive to the basket and another on a pull up. Williams played through a number of minor injuries throughout his freshman season, including a fractured orbital bone late in the year, and some nagging ankle and wrist injuries. On a team that was contending for a tourney bid and had a lead guard in KJ Simpson that is entrenched as their ball dominant first option, Williams struggled for opportunities. He finished the season above 40% from three and proved over the weekend that he’s extremely comfortable handling the ball as the lead guard in a high pressure environment. Similar to Zaccharie Risacher, (the French sharpshooter that we originally placed in the top 3 picks of 2024 a year ago, at a point when no one else had either on their first round draft boards), Cody lacks an aggressive demeanor, and instead is more of a quiet, lead by example type. Both players have had their ups and downs this year, but the duo provide the highest swing-for-the-fences upside in this year’s draft. Cody gets the slight edge, from our vantage point, due to his potential to become a modern day lead guard with great size at 6-8, and a massive 7-foot-3 wingspan. Due to his immense potential, e’s a virtual lock to go top 5, and likely will be one of a small handful of players ultimately considered at the top pick.

Dalton Knecht 6-9 200 SF Tennessee Sr.

Knecht had an off shooting game in the second round win over Texas. While he made some key plays down the stretch, on the way to his 18 and 9 performance, his 1-for-8 from three was not up to his standard. On the positive side, he scored 23 points with 8 boards in their opening round blowout of St. Peters, knocking down 4-8 from three. Knecht moved into the top 5 of our mock draft (3rd) a few weeks ago, and while his struggles from outside against Texas don’t help, he continues to be the team’s driving force and scoring leader, and Tennessee will look to continue to survive and advance with Creighton up next in the Sweet Sixteen.

Tristan da Silva 6-9 210 SF Colorado Sr.

Da Silva displayed his excellent versatility in Colorado’s two March Madness games with 17 points in each. He had 5 assist and 4 rebounds against Florida and in both games scored in a variety of ways and contributed on both ends. The Brazilian by way of Germany has shown steady improvement through his college career at Colorado and stepped up in the two tournament games with consistent play. He his 6-of-10 three point shots in the two games. He’s seen as a potential first rounder, despite being 23 on draft night. His 7-foot wingspan and smooth shooting stroke are intriguing as a wing that should be able to bring something right away to an NBA team.

Jaxson Robinson 6-7 190 SG BYU Sr.

The senior transfer showed out in his one NCAA tourney game, showing that he’s able to shine on the big stage. Despite coming off the bench, Robinson led the team in scoring this year by a healthy margin, averaging 14.2 ppg. Robinson’s abilities were on full display as he knocked down 5 three pointers and finished with a game high 25 points, despite BYU losing. He made some big plays down the stretch including two ISO drives to the rim and one very impressive step back three. If his ability to create baskets in pressure moments was in question, he answered those misconceptions. Robinson is one of the older prospects in this year’s draft but did a good job to solidify his standing as a potential late first round pick.

Ja'Kobe Walter 6-5 180 SG Baylor Fr.

One major criticism about Walter’s game from scouts is that he’s limited going off the dribble and attacking the basket. In the team’s elimination game in the round of 32 against Clemson, Walter made a very impressive play attacking the rim for an AND1 basket in the closing minutes. His 20 points and 19 points in the team’s two tourney games helps him to offset a disappointing last few weeks of the season prior to March Madness. His shooting numbers dipped from a hot start and settled at 34% from three, 79% from FT line and 38% from the floor. 14.5 ppg ended up being one of the more productive freshmen in the country and as a high level shooter with solid length and athleticism, he’s looking at becoming a possible top 10 pick in June, pending solid workouts.

Jaylen Wells 6-8 200 SG/SF Washington St. Jr.

The Juco transfer from Sacramento has been steadily moving up draft boards and had a breakout performance in the first weekend of March Madness. Despite losing, Wells proved what an explosive scorer he is with 16 points in the first half against iowa St. He struggled from outside, hitting just 2 of 11 from 3, but had 20 points on 8-17 overall. Wells also starred in Washington State’s 5 point opening round win against Drake, hitting 3 of 4 from deep and finishing with 17 points. Wells is a junior, but still only 20 years of age. He lacks great versatility and is seen as being somewhat limited as a shooting specialist, but his size and touch give him some intrigue in the early second round.

N'Faly Dante 7-0 240 C Oregon Sr.

Dante had two 20 plus point games in the tourney, against South Carolina and Creighton. In the team’s second round double OT  loss to the Blue Jays, Dante went for 28 and 20 boards, one of the best individual performances of the opening weekend. That, along with his excellent senior season, should help to get draft looks in June. N’Faly came into college as a highly touted recruit, and struggled with injuries throughout his college career, but appears to finally be able to stay on the floor for extended time.

Stock Down

Kyle Filipowski 6-11 240 PF/C Duke So.

Filipowski is considered by many as a potential lottery pick, and while Duke won and he didn’t do anything too damaging related to his draft outlook, the first weekend of March Madness was not a positive for the Duke bigman. He failed to make a field goal in their first round match up with Vermont going 0-1 from the floor and finished with 3 points in the game. Despite the low scoring output, he did find ways to contribute with 12 rebounds and 4 assists. He was able to play better in their match up with with James Madison finishing with 14 points, but still has not performed to his ability thus far. But the good news is that Duke continues to play and Filipowski will get the chance to go against one of the better defensive teams in the country when Duke squares off with Houston in the Sweet Sixteen.

Reed Sheppard 6-3 190 PG/SG Kentucky Fr.

In 26 minutes, Sheppard failed to get on track and was for the most part invisible in the Wildcats biggest game of the year. While some were beginning to tab him as a potential number one overall pick candidate, particularly the analytics inclined analysts, his struggles against Oakland and the question marks regarding his position put the excitement surrounding him on hold to some degree. While he remains higher on our projections than teammate Rob Dillingham, his teammate showed more fight in the final minutes and made some big plays to help Kentucky stay within range late. Sheppard knocked down one excellent three pointer and only took five shots, finishing with three points. Despite that, Sheppard remains high on our mock due his body of work and the fact that this is a weak draft.


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