The NBA Draft Guide to March Madness
There's going to be a lot of basketball coming your way soon in the magical month of March.
While some of you might follow college basketball closely, we thought it would be a great idea to point out some specific players that have a chance to hear their name called in June.
TUESDAY, MARCH 19
TEMPLE VS BELMONT
- Players to Watch: Dylan Windler (Belmont)
- Windler has been a name gaining attention all year. He's going to remind a lot of people of Joe Ingles, from the Utah Jazz. Windler has good size at 6'8 and can fill up the box score in a hurry. The talented wing is averaging 21.4 PPG for Belmont this year, as well as 10.7 RPG. Expect to hear Windler's name potentially in the 2nd round of the draft.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
ST.JOHNS VS ARIZONA STATE
- Players to Watch: Shamorie Ponds (St.Johns), Luguentz Dort (ASU), Dylan Cheatham( ASU)
- The play-in game between St.Johns and ASU should be a battle until the end. Look for Shamorie Ponds to do his best to carry his team to a victory. Ponds will be an interesting prospect for the draft that most likely will end up in the 2nd round conversation. He has the ability to take over a game, especially in crunch time. Look for Arizona State's Luguentz Dort to dominate on both sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see if Dort matches up against Ponds. Dort is a bigger combo guard that has the ability to bully defenders off the dribble and finishes tough at the rim. Dylan Cheatham is a wildcard for the Sun Devils, but he could draw some attention in the 2nd round of the Draft with a solid showing in the tournament.
THURSDAY, MARCH 21
MINNESOTA VS LOUISVILLE
- Players to Watch: Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
- The one to keep an eye on in this one is Jordan Nwora. The talented Sophomore has good size at 6'8 215 pounds and can do a bit of everything on the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals. Nwora has the ability to guard all five positions as well and demonstrates a high basketball IQ on the court. His problem is that he's not an elite athlete and some question whether he will be able to handle the NBA game.
YALE VS LSU
- Players to Watch: Tremont Waters (LSU), Naz Reid (LSU)
- This one will have a lot of attention on the LSU side of the battle when it comes to Draft Prospects. Naz Reid has had a wildly inconsistent year for the Tigers, but he has great offensive potential and footwork for a big his size. If LSU can make a nice tourney run, Reid could have the most to gain from it. Tremont Waters is a smaller ball handler, but he's one of the best defensive players in the NCAA. Peters won't get a lot of respect in draft talks, but he is a feisty player and knows how to get his own shot.
NEW MEXICO ST VS AUBURN
- Players to Watch: Chumu Okeke (Auburn)
- Chumu Okeke is a name making some late noise as a potential early 2nd round pick this June. Okeke plays the 4 for Auburn but is developing the ability to hit the outside shot and make an impact on the defensive side of the ball.
VERMONT VS FLORIDA ST
- Players to Watch: Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State)
- Besides having the most terrifying name to pronounce in the tournament, Mfiondu Kabengele is also the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo. Odds are that he's going to be a prospect that returns for at least another year. Kabengele is a Sophomore for FSU and is averaging 1.5 BPG.
BRADLEY VS MICHIGAN ST
- Players to Watch: Cassius Winston (MSU)
- Winston has been a great guard for Michigan State this year. It will be interesting to see if he returns to Izzo Land for another year, which I would assume, but keep an eye on him.
BELMONT/TEMPLE VS MARYLAND
- Players to Watch: Bruno Fernando (Maryland), Jalen Smith (Maryland)
- Bruno Fernando is the one you want to pay attention to but Jalen Smith can also gain your attention for the future. I wasn't impressed by Fernando last year as a rookie, he looked heavy-footed with poor awareness in the post. Fast forward to this year, and you see flashes of a completely different player. Fernando is a beast on the boards and his passing ability and vision out of the post has been impressive. I would like to see some more consistency from him, but he's got the ability to play at the next level. Jalen Smith is a bit of a combo forward still developing, and I expect him to spend another year at Maryland.
NORTHEASTERN VS KANSAS
- Players to Watch: Dedric Lawson (Kansas), Quentin Grimes( Kansas)
- After transferring from Memphis, Dedric Lawson has been impressive for the Jayhawks all season. He's most likely going to end up in the 2nd round, but he could find himself falling into the perfect situation. Lawson is a 4 that can hurt you from outside. Quentin Grimes came into this year with big expectations and hasn't produced on a consistent level. Some might say that it's because of an awkward fit at Kansas, but he's got first-round talent. His shot-creating ability is going to be his Achilles heal moving forward. Still, despite a down year, someone is going to take a flier on him in the first-round.
MURRAY ST VS MARQUETTE
- Players to Watch: Ja Morant (Murray St), Markus Howard (Marquette)
- This will have all of the attention of Draft fanatics across the nation. Ja Morant has skyrocketed up the draft boards this year, and some have him as the consensus number 2 overall selection behind Zion Williamson. Morant is thin framed but incredibly explosive with good size at 6'3. He also possesses elite vision for a ball-handler and is averaging 10.0 assists per game. On the other side for Marquette is point guard Markus Howard who is a threat from anywhere once he crosses half court. Honestly, he might be a threat from beyond half-court. Howard has a couple of memorable performances this year including a 53 point game against Creighton. It will be interesting to see the two point-guards go at it. Expect Howard to flirt with late first-round talks in the draft.
FLORIDA VS NEVADA
- Players to Watch: Jordan Caroline (Nevada), Caleb Martin (Nevada), Cody Martin (Nevada), Andrew Nembhard (Florida)
- The Nevada Wolf Pack aren't going to be full of potential first-round picks, but they have some intriguing players that might have potential to make some noise as second-round picks. Caleb and Cody Martin will draw the attention, but keep an eye on Jordan Caroline as well. Caroline is very active around the basket and is a high energy forward with athleticism. When it comes to the Florida Gators, don't expect Andrew Nembhard to be in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he has scouts talking about his potential. Nembhard plays tough on both sides of the ball and his offensive game is developing nicely.
ABILENE CHRISTIAN VS KENTUCKY
- Players to Watch: (Basically everyone on Kentucky)
- (Okay fine...)
- PJ Washington (Kentucky), Ashton Hagans (Kentucky), Keldon Johnson (Kentucky), Tyler Herro (Kentucky), Reid Travis (Kentucky)
- Kentucky has a lot of intriguing prospects...what a shocker. PJ Washington decided to return for another year and it was the right call. He's developed into a stretch 4 that can stretch defenses from outside. Ashton Hagans is a point guard with size and elite defensive ability. Hagans is developing his offensive game as well, but still displays a promising feel for the game. I wanted to see more of an offensive versatility from Keldon Johnson this year, but the talented freshman wing is going to have some fans in NBA Front Offices come draft time. Expect Johnson to be a late lottery selection due to his NBA body and ability to play above the rim. Reid Travis is the "veteran" of the group after transferring from Stanford and could draw some second-round interest as a flier. The most intriguing one here is Tyler Herro. After a slow start to begin the year, Herro has started to blossom as of late. He has the ability to become a lethal shooter from downtown, and he's starting to show flashes of his offensive versatility. He's projected to be a late first round pick, but don't be surprised if he climbs during the draft process.
SAINT MARY'S VS VILLANOVA
- Players to Watch: Eric Paschall(Villanova)
- Eric Paschall is a bruiser of a stretch 4 that is a seasoned veteran at Villanova. He's a high IQ player that will get overlooked come draft time due to his age (Senior). Paschall might not have the highest NBA Ceiling, but he definitely has the potential to be a solid role player for years to come.
FARLEIGH DICKINSON/PRAIRIE VIEW VS GONZAGA
- Players to Watch: Rui Hachimura (Zags), Brandon Clarke( Zags), Killian Tille (Zags), Zach Norvell Jr (Zags)
- Expect to get a good long look at the numerous NBA Prospects playing for the Bulldogs in the tournament. Rui Hachimura is a long lengthy wing that can has the ability to be a weapon defensively at the next level. He's shown an impressive ability off the dribble to get to the rim, and he's made strides in his outside shooting. Brandon Clarke is a favorite sleeper of ours here at Backcourt Violation. Clarke is an extremely talented defender who is the anchor for Gonzaga. He has the potential to be a phenomenal stretch 4 at the next level, as well as a great small ball 5 weapon. Killian Tillie had a rough year recovering from an injury, but he could be the crucial weapon to get the Bulldogs to the final four. He's a big that has the ability to score from outside. Don't be surprised if Zach Norvell Jr gains some fans in NBA Front Offices with his athleticism and 3 point ability. The lefty is an important part of Gonzaga's success and has 3 and D potential at the next level.
MONTANA VS MICHIGAN
- Players to Watch: Charles Matthews (Michigan), Jordan Poole (Michigan), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan)
- The Wolverines have some interesting prospects for June. Some of them could use a long impressive tourney run for their draft stock. Charles Matthews is the veteran of the team (Senior) and has great athleticism at 6'6. Matthews is still a work in progress when it comes to offensive versatility. He's going to be a desired draft pick because of his defensive ability. Jordan Poole has been struggling as of late for the Blue and could use a strong tournament.
SETON HALL VS WOFFORD
- Players to Watch: Myles Powell (Seton Hall), Fletcher Magee (Wofford)
- I'm not expecting to hear of any of these names come June, but Myles Powell might have the best shot in this game of an NBA career. He's going to be a liability on the defensive side of the ball, but Powell can flat out light it up as a shooter. Fletcher Magee will have a longshot chance to make the league, but he has breakout player potential for the tournament.
OLD DOMINION VS PURDUE
- Players to Watch: Carsen Edwards (Purdue)
- If you want to watch a game featuring an absolute bucket-getter...then look no further than Purdue and Carsen Edwards. With all due respect to Purdue, they would not be in their current position if it wasn't for Edwards play this year. Edwards is a stocky 6'1 200-pound ball-handler that can score in bunches. He's a threat from outside and does a great job of using his body to get into bigger defenders at the rim. Expect to hear his name in the late first/early second round this June.
BAYLOR VS SYRACUSE
- Players to Watch: Tyus Battle (Syracuse)
- The Orange have some rough spots in their team, but Syracuse's talented wing Tyus Battle can take over any game at any point. His shot selection is a bit wild, but he has the ability to score from multiple levels. Battle has been banged up in the last several games for Syracuse, but if he's 100% he will be a player to look out for.
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
IOWA VS CINCINNATI
- Players to Watch: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
- When it comes to this game, Cincinnati's Jarron Cumberland will gain the attention in this one. Cumberland is a 6'5 guard that is averaging 18.8 points per game for the Bearcats. He's a Junior, and most likely test the NBA waters after the season, but Cumberland
OKLAHOMA VS OLE MISS
- Players to Watch: Terence Davis (Ole Miss)
- Davis is averaging 15 ppg for the Rebels and has good size for a guard at 6'4 200+ pounds. I expect him to get a look by an NBA team when it comes time for Summer League/Training Camp, but not sure he gets his name called in June.
NORTHERN KENTUCKY VS TEXAS TECH
- Players to Watch: Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech)
- For any Draft Fantatics, you should have your attention on Jarrett Culver as much as possible during the tournament. After taking a back seat to fellow Texas Tech and current NBA players Zhaire Smith and Keenan Evans, Culver's time has come for the Red Raiders and he has blossomed. Culver has the potential to be a top 7 selection come June thanks to his ability offensively off the dribble.
UC IRVINE VS KANSAS ST
- Players to Watch: Xavier Sneed (KSU)
- Sneed is an undersized Forward for Kansas State at 6'5 but he is only a Junior. Kansas State is very deep with experienced and feisty players, but they might not have anyone that is on draft radars.
COLGATE VS TENNESSEE
- Players to Watch: Grant Williams (Tennessee), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Jordan Boone (Tennesee)
- The Volunteers have a wide amount of impressive talent that should be playing at the next level for a long time. "Veterans" Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield likely won't hear their name called early on Draft Day, but they have the potential to be steals for certain teams. Schofield is a big bruising guard with a respectable shot from outside. He has the potential to develop into a solid role player if he falls into the right hands. Grant Williams most likely will hear his name in the second round, but his overall fit will be crucial to carving out a long career in the league. Don't expect point guard Jordan Boone to declare after this season, but he might have the best NBA potential out of anyone on the roster.
GARDNER-WEBB VS VIRGINIA
- Players to Watch: De'Andre Hunter (Virginia), Ty Jerome (Virginia), Kyle Guy (Virginia)
- This is a public service announcement...start to fall in love with De'Andre Hunter. Virginia has a team full of talented players that all could make some noise at the next level in some way. Hunter will be the touted prospect. De'Andre is oozing with potential and might be one of the most impressive all-around defenders in College Basketball. He has the ability to guard positions 1 through 5 and has great size at 6'8 230 pounds. Ty Jerome is a combo guard with size that can light it up from deep. If Jerome has a great tournament, he could gain some steam when it comes to a late first-round selection. Kyle Guy has the ability to score in bunches and could be a potential second-round pick.
ARIZONA ST/ST JOHNS VS BUFFALO
- Players to Watch: (See previous game for ASU/SJ players) CJ Massinburg (Buffalo)
- A senior for the Buffalo Bulls, Massinburg has a good physical frame for a guard and has the production to back it up. He could hear his name in the 2nd round, but like most other 2nd round prospects, his fit is going to be important.
OREGON VS WISCONSIN
- Players to Watch: Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Louis King (Oregon), Kenny Wooten (Oregon)
- This should be one of the more interesting games of the first round. It would have been fun to see Bol Bol in tournament play, but unfortunately, his season was cut short due to an injury. Ethan Happ could be a force inside for Wisconsin although he struggles from the line. For the Ducks, pay attention to Louis King. The talented freshmen had a late start to the season after recovering from an injury, but he could gain some serious momentum in draft circles with a strong showing. I expect King to stay at Oregon for another year, as he could become an early first-round selection with a strong Sophomore campaign. It's almost a guarantee that Kenny Wooten will make your jaw drop with his athleticism. He's a 6'9 220 Sophomore and should be a name to monitor next year.
WASHINGTON VS UTAH ST.
- Players to Watch: Matisse Thybulle (Washington), Jaylen Nowell (Washington), Sam Merrill (Utah St), Neemias Queta (Utah St)
- Washington has a lot of talent and suffocates opponents with their Zone defense. Jaylen Nowell is where the Huskies get their scoring from but make sure you pay attention to Matisse Thybulle. The 6'5 wing is one of the best defensive players in the country and is averaging 3.4 steals per game. His offensive game is still developing, and NBA teams will cool off on his age (Senior) but Thybulle can contribute immediately at the next level on the defensive side of the ball. For Utah State, look for Sam Merrill to light up the box score when it comes to scoring. NBA evaluators have their eye on freshman big man Neemias Queta, although he might be another year away from making a huge leap into serious draft consideration.
NC CENTRAL/NORTH DAKOTA ST. VS DUKE
- Players to Watch: Do you really need to ask us?
GEORGIA ST VS HOUSTON
- Players to Watch: Dejon Jarreau (Houston)
- Houston has a fun College Team, but don't expect many notable prospects. If you want to zero your attention in on anyone...Sophomore Dejon Jarreau should be someone to circle for drafts down the road.
LIBERTY VS MISSISSIPPI ST.
- Players to Watch: Quinndary Weatherspoon (MISS ST)
- This game could be an upset, just because of how inconsistent Mississippi State has been all year, but Quinndary Weatherspoon should be a treat to watch. He's a tough versatile scorer that can also hit the deep ball.
IONA VS NORTH CAROLINA
- Players to Watch: Nassir Little (UNC), Coby White (UNC), Cameron Johnson (UNC), Luke Maye (UNC)
- Out of the numerous talented prospects that North Carolina has, no one needs a big tournament more than Nassir Little. The Freshman wing has everything on paper that you look for in a top 5 pick, but the transition to the college game just hasn't happened smoothly. Coby White, on the other hand, has exploded onto the college scene. He's proven that he can score at all levels as the primary ball-handler. Cameron Johnson is a prospect that deserves way more attention. Johnson can shoot the lights out and has good size at 6'8. His offensive versatility is coming along nicely. Luke Maye is a seasoned veteran for North Carolina and fills up the stat sheet in a hurry, but his NBA outcome doesn't look promising.
UCF VS VCU
- Players to Watch: Tacko Fall (UCF) is really tall.
OHIO ST. VS IOWA ST.
- Players to Watch: Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Marial Shayok (Iowa State), Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State)
- Iowa State is a team in the tournament that can ruin a lot of brackets. They have been up and down all year but have the talent to play with anyone. Marial Shayok is the experience on the team, and leads the scoring punch for the Cyclones. Shayok should draw some potential interest in the 2nd round this June. Lindell Wigginton was gaining some steam earlier this year as a potential draft pick, and he has the talent to play at the next level, but after an up and down year it's most likely will return for another year. The top NBA Prospects on Iowa State are Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton. Look for Horton-Tucker to be the top prospect for the 2019 Draft. He's a 6'4 230-pound guard with a freakish 7'0 wingspan. Haliburton most likely will be a highly coveted prospect in the 2020 draft. He's skinny and is still developing as a scorer, but his court vision is incredibly rare as he sees plays develop two moves ahead.
SAINT LOUIS VS VIRGINIA TECH
- Players to Watch: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (VT), Justin Robinson (VT)
- Virginia Tech is more than happy to get leading scorer Justin Robinson back for the tourney, and it's great news for Nickeil Alexander-Walker as well. Robinson is the leading ball-handler for the Hokies and should light it up from the field. Alexander-Walker is the notable NBA prospect and is being projected as a late lottery pick as of now. He's a three and D prospect as of now, but his offensive versatility is further along than most realize. Alexander-Walker could really benefit from a strong tourney run by Virginia Tech.