Who are the Top Prospect of Each Final Four Team?
And then there were four.
The 2017 NCAA Tournament is starting to wind down and as always, it has been a spectacular showcase of college basketball’s best. Fans have truly received what they were hoping for and now are patiently waiting to watch a new champion get crowned. As the dust from the Elite 8 has settled, it will be between the Oregon Ducks, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Vegas favourites North Carolina Tar Heels to duke it out for the title of best college basketball team in the country.
Four schools who share one goal, and reaching it cannot be done unless a few star prospects show up for the next two games. Each one of the four teams have their own style, but each team also has their own leaders who will look to lead them into the Final Four.
Let’s get familiarized with those top NBA-Draft eligible prospects!
South Carolina – Sindarius Thornwell
Who would of thunk that the Gamecocks could even hang with the NCAA’s best? Hell, the country was split between them and Maryland in the Round of 64, yet here they are still standing against two one seeds and a three seed.
Simply put, there may be no player who has had a better tournament than Sindarius Thornwell. As long as he’s around, South Carolina can beat anyone who stands in their way. First and foremost, with his strength and toughness, the two-guard sets the tone for the entire game for his squad as the Gamecocks have been physically bullying their opposition all tournament long.
While not as explosive as most of the big-name guards in March Madness, Thornwell brings intensity to both ends of the floor. He has proven to be a very potent scorer off the dribble, a solid shooter, and a good playmaker who can work through contact.
The Gamecocks will be underdogs yet again as they are set to go up against Gonzaga, but odds will be thrown out the window once Thornwell is on the court, ready to lead the South Carolina charge.
Darkhorse Players: Chris Silva (F), P.J. Dozier (G)
Gonzaga Bulldogs – Nigel Williams-Goss
The Bulldogs have reached their first ever Final Four and a lot of their success can be attributed to Nigel Williams-Goss, the tournament’s premier Swiss army knife. While a guy who will not be fought over in the NBA Draft, Williams-Goss does present quite a bit of upside, despite often struggling to stay consistent.
The Gonzaga point guard, although streaky, is a very good shooter no matter where he stands on the floor. A great defender and playmaker, he is also a great rebounder, despite his 6’3”, 185-pound frame.
While he will have to do much more to succeed on the NBA level, Williams-Goss has a good feel for the game and is a smart player who understands when to force shots and when to get teammates involved. He knows what to do to help his team win and quite frankly, that mentality may be one of the best qualities to have in a winner-goes-on tournament.
Darkhorse Players: Przemek Karnowski (C), Zach Collins (C)
Oregon Ducks – Tyler Dorsey
There is no surprise that Ducks scoring leader Dillon Brooks was getting most of the hype entering the tournament, but for as good as he has been for this surging Oregon team, Tyler Dorsey has continued to make a name for himself as knockdown shooter and an incredibly clutch player.
As the Ducks prepare to take on the Tar Heels, they will need every bit of Dorsey’s brilliance to make it to the NCAA Tournament finals. A bit of a no name for most of his college career, the sophomore has come on like no one could have expected. In his last seven games, he has averaged 23.6-points per contest while also shooting 57% from beyond the arc. That is a remarkable pace.
The Ducks never came into the tournament as underdogs, nor as favourites like their Final Four blue-bleeding counterparts, yet the story of Dorsey has been quite the underdog tale. Leading Oregon back from a double-digit deficit against an extremely good Rhode Island team, Dorsey hit four huge three-pointers, while making nine of his ten baskets on the evening.
Against the “team of destiny” Michigan Wolverines, Dorsey hit five of his seven threes, and dropped a clutch, game-winning shot off a spin move to lead the Ducks past Michigan by a score of 69-68.
If UNC hopes to prevail, they better hope they can slow down the hottest shooter in the entire tournament.
Darkhorse Players: Dillon Brooks (F/G), Jordan Bell (C)
North Carolina Tar Heels – Justin Jackson
Justin Jackson is an incredibly rare prospect who has continued to get better the longer he has stayed in college. Now, he has the chance to lead UNC back to last year’s stage, only with the goal of getting the job done this year.
The 6’8” forward has continued to trend upwards on mock drafts as the Tournament has gone on. Averaging nearly 20-points per game in March Madness, the 22-year old is a long, lanky, but fluid athlete who has shown the ability to defend multiple positions. Over the years he has smoothened out his offensive game, that comes along with great court vision as well.
There may no longer be any Lonzo Balls or Malik Monks in this tournament, but this is Jackson’s time to show the world what he is capable of before he enters the NBA Draft. Oregon may have Tyler Dorsey, and South Carolina may have the hottest player in the tournament, but Justin Jackson may just be the best player in the country left standing.
Darkhorse Players: Joel Berry (G), Kennedy Meeks (F)