Which Star Prospect’s are Trending Up? Who’s Stock Trending Down?
The NCAA Tournament, is by no means, a ‘be-all end-all, when it comes to evaluating prospects and their NBA futures. It does however offer an opportunity to see how athletes perform on the big stage and get a closer look at their strengths and weaknesses.
Like every year, some players have taken off and drastically improved their draft stock throughout the tournament while others have raised doubts and slid down mock drafts. Others meanwhile were stars heading into the tournament, with nothing changing afterwards; namely, RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson in this case.
Here is a look at how some of the main NBA prospect’s draft stocks have been affected by the tournament.
Draft Stock Risers
Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech): At the top of list has to be the Texas Tech star. He has led his team to their first ever NCAA Tournament finals appearance and has looked incredible doing so. At 6’ 6”, he has ideal size for a modern shooting guard, to go with eye-opening athleticism and natural scoring skills. His most translatable attribute, however, may be his on-ball defense. He is one of the most well-rounded prospects in the country. Prior to the tournament, Culver was probably going to be in the 9-12 range, whereas now he may well find him self going between 5-7.
Carson Edwards (Purdue) : Wow. Purdue’s run may have ended in the Elite Eight, but Carson Edward’s performance will forever be remembered, and indeed etched in the history books. Edwards put up James Harden-like numbers, averaging 34.8 points in the four tournament games. No other player has even manages to average 30 points per game in a tournament since Jimmer Fredette in 2011. Standing at barely 6’ feet, some scouts will worry about his defense, but this kid can score. Pegged to be a early second round pick earlier in the season, he may well find his way into the top 25 after his brilliant tournament run.
Ja Morant (Murray State) : Two games (but really one) in the NCAA tournament was enough for Ja Morant to prove that he is arguably the best prospect in the draft. After the Marquette game, Morant had scouts salivating, with his all-around dominance. Simply put, he looks like a can’t miss prospect. He looks like a Russell Westbrook, with a slightly better jump shot at this stage of his career. Prior to the tournament, he was seen as a top 3-4 pick, but now, should a team in desperate need of a point guard (Phoenix Suns), get the number 1 pick, don’t be surprised if Morant’s name is the first to be called in draft night.
Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga): Gonzaga’s tournament run ended in disappointing fashion but Brandon Clarke may well have emerged as the team’s best prospect. The Canadian showcased his all-around game, leading the team in scoring, dominating the glass and protecting the rim. His stock has certainly risen, and he is now a likely candidate to be drafted in the lottery.
Draft Stock Fallers
Cam Reddish (Duke) : Oh man; Reddish has gone from being in the top 5 of every mock draft to now slipping down to the end of the lottery with some NBA scouts wondering if he should return back to school. Now that’s rough. In his defense, the knee injury came at an unfortunate time, but even when he was on the court for the first few rounds, he looked way too passive and disinterested. When you share the court with RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, it is understandable that you won’t get as many touches as you deserve but at some point you need to take the initiative and find ways to make an impact on the court. Reddish didn’t do that and it may cost him quite a bit.
Nassir Little (North Carolina) : Probably the biggest disappointment from the beginning of the college basketball season to right now, is Nassir Little. A 5-star recruit, viewed right up there with Barrett and Williamson, Little had a poor season, resulting in him being demoted to a bench role. He failed to impress in the tournament and may well slip outside of the lottery. Don’t be surprised if he goes back to UNC for his sophomore season.
Ethan Happ (Wisconsin): This is a case of a player who actually made the wrong decision by returning to school for his senior season. Coming off a very strong showing last year, Happ was likely to be a first round pick. Now, after a sub-par season and a poor showing in Wisconsin’s first round loss to Oregon, it is unlikely Happ cracks the top 40.
Jordan Caroline (Nevada): Following Nevada’s run to the Elite Eight last season, Jordan Caroline’s stock was through the roof as he established himself as one of the more exciting players in the country. His choice to come back for his senior season to make a run at an NCAA title and further improve his stock has proven to be a poor one. He had a terrible end to the regular season, not only on the court but also finding himself involved in altercations off the court. In Nevada’s opening round loss to Florida, he shot a woeful 2-11 for only 7 points. His stock has tumbled down rapidly, somewhere in the second round. With that said, he may be a good ‘buy-low’ option for team’s picking in the later stages of the draft.