- There’s more riding on March Madness than just the NCAA tournament. With the 68-team field officially set, The Crossover's Front Office breaks down one NBA prospect to watch on every team.
If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s March. If you like college basketball, you’ve probably already filled out a bracket and analyzed every obscure statistic in the process. But if you’re an NBA-only hoops fan, maybe you haven’t. Maybe your favorite team is in full tank. Maybe you need a handy guide breaking down which players to watch in the tournament. Or maybe you need one that examines one NBA prospect to watch on every single team.
As the road to the Final Four in San Antonio begins this week, The Crossover’s Front Office is diving deeper, and with the tournament on tap and a ton of talent on display, here are the players most worth keeping an eye on, from the obvious to the extremely obscure. These prospects are not created equal, and the further down the list you go, the weirder this gets. Lots of teams have more than one prospect—this exercise isn’t perfect. But if you need help scouting the tourney, look no further. We’ll start with the top seeds and work our way down.
VILLANOVA: Mikal Bridges, F | Junior
Bridges broke out in full as a two-way force this season and is pivotal to Villanova’s very real title hopes as both a secondary scorer and a shutdown defender. His ability to defend four positions on the perimeter and score at all three levels has led NBA scouts viewing him as a safe bet to have a long career. The only glaring hole in his game is creating his own shot. He’s looking like a late-lottery selection at this point.
VIRGINIA: De’Andre Hunter, F | Freshman (RS)
It can be difficult for individual talent to shine in Virginia’s well-oiled, disciplined offensive scheme, but Hunter’s glimpses as a 20-year-old redshirt freshman have already made him a draftable player in the eyes of the NBA. With a strong body, great defensive playmaking instincts and nice rotation on his ball, Hunter is the type of player who could swing games in the tournament, and see his stock rise accordingly. UVA hasn’t fully turned him loose, but Hunter’s substantial ability is clear.
KANSAS: Devonte Graham, PG | Senior
The engine that keeps the Jayhawks running, Graham tallied 18 points and 13 assists against West Virginia in the conference title game and is sitting on the cusp of the first round. While he may not evolve into a star, given his struggles as an isolation scorer (he’s shooting under 40% from the field) his contributions as a ballhandler are essential to Kansas’s three-point heavy attack. He profiles nicely as a rotation player and can help separate himself from a good pack of point guards in the middle of the draft.
XAVIER: Trevon Bluiett, SG | Senior
Based on pure production, Bluiett’s résumé is solid: he’s shot 42% from three this season, had a number of huge games and really maximized himself as a college star. Below-average athletic ability—not talent—has always been the issue with him. He may not be able to defend his position at the NBA level, but one of his heat-check games makes Xavier a threat to beat anyone on a given day.
DUKE: Marvin Bagley, PF | Freshman
Although Bagley is unlikely to be the draft’s top choice, he’s certainly lived up to the hype when it comes to numbers, putting together a prolific one-and-done season and propping up an elite offense. His offensive ceiling and aggressive rebounding are inarguably intriguing, but he’s been a ball-stopper in the post and a ball-watcher on defense. He has a ways to go in terms of learning the game in order to evolve into a star. Regardless, he’ll be one of the first names off the board in June.
NORTH CAROLINA: Cameron Johnson, F | Junior
In his first season with the Heels after grad transferring from Pitt, Johnson has been a key complementary floor-spacer and scorer, though he runs hot and cold. He has appealing size for a shooter and one year of eligibility left. Though he’s already 22, he may want to come back, diversify his offensive production and become a more consistent threat next season. But with his tools, Johnson will end up someone’s 3-and-D dart throw at worst.
CINCINNATI: Jacob Evans, G/F | Junior
Evans’s game embodies Cincy’s hard-nosed philosophy. He provides physical defense and good anticipation coupled with an offensive game that’s effective, despite being sort of a mixed bag. He can be highly inconsistent and does nothing on a truly elite level, but if his 40% three-point clip translates to the NBA, he should be able to fill a useful supporting role. The Bearcats are Final Four contenders.
PURDUE: Carsen Edwards, PG | Sophomore
The Boilermakers will go as Edwards does in March, and his plucky, high energy game has begun to turn heads among NBA scouts. He’s a dangerous three-point shooter off screens and constant threat to attack off the bounce despite being undersized. Edwards plays with a lot of poise for a sophomore, and has an appealing toughness about him that can be contagious. He’s the primary shot-creator for Purdue, and is a prospect of interest, though more likely for next year’s draft.
MICHIGAN STATE: Jaren Jackson, C | Freshman
Jackson struggled at the Big Ten tournament, but will be among the first six or seven players drafted in June thanks to his defensive versatility and clear offensive potential. He’s inherited high expectations with his flashes of brilliance, able to shoot from outside and displaying hints of ability off the dribble. On the other side, Jackson blocks and alters shots, defends ably in space and is a great fit for the modern NBA. To make it to San Antonio, the Spartans need him to step up.
MICHIGAN: Moritz Wagner, C | Junior
After helping guide the Wolverines to nine straight wins and a Big Ten tournament title, Wagner is making another case for himself as a prospect after earning a combine invite last year. His variety of offensive skills at center stands out, as he’s able to pick and pop, hit threes and attack closeouts. His defense and rebounding are another story. Wagner is likely in the second–round mix if he comes out this year.
TEXAS TECH: Zhaire Smith, SG | Freshman
A virtual unknown coming into the season, Smith emerged as the standout prospect on a tough Red Raiders team. He’s had his fair share of nice moments, capable of highlight-reel athletic plays and explosive dunks while displaying nice agility on defense. Smith doesn’t create much of his own offense at all right now, which is not insignificant. But as a high-energy utility guy, he’s off to a good start. He’s probably best off returning for another year, but is an intriguing name for the 2019 draft.
TENNESSEE: Kyle Alexander, C | Junior
Though Alexander only plays about half his team’s minutes, his shot-blocking presence and ability on both ends of the glass can be a major game-changer. At 6’11” with a 7’5” wingspan and 9’2” standing reach, well, you can see why the NBA is interested. He’s still a project, probably for next season, but his impressive tools could make him a nice defensive-oriented role player in due time.
ARIZONA: DeAndre Ayton, C | Freshman
The likely No. 1 pick in June’s draft and rail-to-rail the top prospect on our Big Board all season, Ayton was downright transcendent on Saturday night before the tournament, leading the Wildcats to a conference title with 32 points and 18 rebounds against USC. It goes without saying he’s playing his best basketball at the right time, able to dominate with a rare combination of physicality and skill. The Wildcats have been inconsistent defensively all season, but if Ayton is at his best, and it seems he will be, they’ll be an extremely difficult out. Enjoy his final college games.
WICHITA STATE: Landry Shamet, PG | Sophomore
Shamet’s savvy playmaking and knockdown shooting (44% from outside) have him on the cusp of the first round, and have Wichita State hoping for another deep tournament run. He’s not an elite athlete, but has few holes in his game otherwise. He’s an extremely efficient scorer and quality jump shooter with nice size for a ball-handler. He can really help his stock if the Shockers get hot—a scenario that has historical precedent.
GONZAGA: Rui Hachimura, F | Sophomore
Hachimura has come off the bench all season, but he’s a huge spark when he’s playing aggressive and is a potential X-factor for another deep March run for the Zags. His body, athleticism and scoring instincts are strengths, but his jumper (4 of 24 from three all year) is a major work in progress. He may be best suited for the 2019 draft, but don’t rule out a breakout tournament making things interesting.
AUBURN: Chuma Okeke, F | Freshman
Okeke has supplied the Tigers with a bit of everything this season, averaging a double-double per-40 minutes and leading the team with a 41.8% three-point clip. With Anfernee McLemore sidelined, Okeke will need to hold down the interior and offer some balance, and he’ll have a major platform to raise his profile. The former four-star recruit is an interesting long-term name to track.
KENTUCKY: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG | Freshman
Less-heralded than some of his freshman peers, Gilgeous-Alexander has been a revelation, emerging mid-season as the Wildcats’ steadying force. He has great size for his position, fantastic defensive instincts and a good feel for finding the open man. His jump shot is still questionable, but his sense of pace and creativity attacking the rim have really come on as strengths. He’s a likely first-rounder and can continue helping himself here, on the heels of a sublime SEC tourney showing.
WEST VIRGINIA: Jevon Carter, PG | Senior
The heart of the Mountaineers’ high-pressure scheme, Carter is already viewed as a plus–NBA defender (3.2 steals per-40). He has the mentality and chops to step in as a specialist early in his career, but needs to round out his offensive game and continue shooting threes at a quality clip to make it happen. He’s a gritty player, and it’s easy to fall in love with Carter’s intangibles. West Virginia’s offense will often sink or swim with him.
OHIO STATE: Keita Bates-Diop, PF | RS Junior
Opinions are mixed on Bates-Diop’s NBA potential, but he’s been outstanding as the focal point of the Buckeyes’ offense and a major reason for the program’s quick revival under Chris Holtmann. He can step out and shoot the three or utilize his length and footwork in the mid-post, making him a tough cover. He’s the key to Ohio State’s hopes for a deep run.
CLEMSON: Elijah Thomas, F/C | Junior
The Tigers’ best pro prospect, senior forward Donte Grantham, is sidelined with an ACL injury. They’re thin up front as a result, and the 6’9” Thomas, an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, is the key to winning the interior battle. He needs another year of college to really emerge as a prospect, but his toughness and defensive numbers stand out.
MIAMI: Lonnie Walker, SG | Freshman
An eye-popping athlete, Walker excels at attacking the basket and making acrobatic plays and will be a first-round pick should he turn pro. His contributions have been inconsistent and his overall offensive feel needs to progress, but his potential as a slasher is evident, and he has the strength and length to be a useful defender on the wing. A breakout tournament would help his case as a lottery pick.
FLORIDA: Jalen Hudson, SG | Junior
Hudson became more than just a three-point specialist this season, excelling in spot-up situations and attacking closeouts. He’s capable of swinging games when he gets hot from outside (41% from three) and has to be accounted for at all times. Defensively he’s not a standout. The Gators are reliant on their potent attack, and will need him to do some damage to punch their ticket to the second weekend.
TCU: Kenrich Williams, F | Senior
Though Williams is already 23, his well-rounded contributions and overall feel for the game haven’t gone unnoticed by scouts, and he’s a potential creative sleeper pick late in this year’s draft. He’s the glue that holds the Horned Frogs together, pacing the team on the glass, shooting 40% from outside, tallying up assists as a secondary playmaker and defending a wide range of opponents. He’s sneaky good.
HOUSTON: Rob Gray Jr., PG | Senior
Gray’s natural scoring talent and improved setup skills have Houston looking like a threat to reach the second weekend. While he regressed as a three-point shooter, his overall offensive profile remains strong, particularly for a 6’1” guard. He turns 24 before draft night and will likely have to take a long route to the NBA, but a good showing in the tournament certainly won’t hurt.
TEXAS A&M: Robert Williams, C | Sophomore
Blessed with tantalizing physical ability but a frustrating habit of disappearing on offense, Williams will be a first–round pick in June but is far from a sure thing. He plays above the rim as easily as anyone in college hoops and can really dominate the glass, but is a tertiary scoring option for the Aggies and often fades entirely when not involved offensively. It’s not the best situation for him, but his team needs him to get it going.
ARKANSAS: Daniel Gafford, C | Freshman
Capable of vicious slams and out-of-nowhere rejections, Gafford burst onto the scene as a one-and-done candidate after coming in as a lesser-known recruit. He’s got an NBA frame and is a nice fit as a rim-protecting dive man at the next level, finishing top-20 nationally in block rate and shooting 61% from the field. His offensive skills are rudimentary and he’s a poor free throw shooter, but there’s a lot to like about the framework of his overall game.
NEVADA: Caleb Martin, G/F | Junior
Not to be confused with identical twin and teammate Cody (you’ll confuse them anyway), Caleb is regarded as the superior prospect to his brother. He was outstanding in just about every type of offensive situation this year, showing some playmaking ability and good scoring instincts using ball screens. Teams are figuring out what to make of his massive uptick in three-point shooting, but Martin has an outside chance at getting drafted either this year or next.
RHODE ISLAND: Jared Terrell, G | Senior
A burly ballhandler, Terrell paces the Rams offensively, shooting 41% from deep this season. He only shot 45% on two-pointers, but his mix of size and smarts has some appeal, and he was a useful secondary playmaker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he earned an invite to Portsmouth.
MISSOURI: Michael Porter Jr., F | Freshman
It’s unclear how healthy he actually is, but Porter Jr. has the talent to swing a game or two in the tournament. His decision to return from back surgery will give scouts a useful window into where he’s at physically and mentally, although his first game back against Georgia yielded mixed results. Watch him closely, hope he stays healthy, and don’t hold a poor performance against him. Barring bad medicals, he’s still going to be an early draft selection.
CREIGHTON: Khyri Thomas, SG | Junior
With a strong body and ideal length for his position, Thomas made his name as a high-end defensive player and coupled that with 42.5% shooting from deep. He’s an explosive athlete and an obvious candidate to fill an NBA supporting role, with the main knocks on him being shot creation and change of direction off the bounce. Marcus Foster leads the Bluejays in scoring, but Thomas is the better long-term prospect and a potential first-rounder.
VIRGINIA TECH: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G | Freshman
Alexander-Walker was a hot name coming into the season as a potential one-and-done, but despite some nice skills he’s far from ready physically or mentally to make the NBA leap. He’s a big, strong, fundamental combo guard with a good understanding of the game, but can be extremely passive and doesn’t always pop at a glance. The Hokies win by committee, but it would be nice to see him take a step forward when it matters.
SETON HALL: Desi Rodriguez, SF | Senior
Rodriguez is a capable, hard-nosed scorer likely to receive interest from the NBA in summer league. Though his body needs some work and he missed time with injuries, he can be a load when he gets going toward the basket. He’s a dangerous college matchup, though at 6’6” it’s unlikely all of his strengths translate at the next level. He’s a fun watch when he has it going and plays with a definite edge.
ALABAMA: Collin Sexton, PG | Freshman
Sexton’s mini-tear through the SEC tourney has become a bit of a storyline, and he’s one of the few players in the tournament capable of swinging a game with his solo act. The by-himself nature of his game is where scouts’ opinions are split. Whether Sexton can become more of a setup man for others will help determine his eventual role, but he’s a likely lottery pick thanks to his scoring ability and toughness.
NC STATE: Omer Yurtseven, C | Sophomore
Undoubtedly the Wolfpack’s top pro prospect, Yurtseven is a frustrating player to watch at times but has a lot of talent as a low-post scorer. His body improved this season and he’s a capable finisher with either hand, but lacks much on-court fire and doesn’t play physically, struggling to get to the foul line as much as he probably should. He earned a combine invite a year ago, but his stock has trended down since.
KANSAS STATE: Dean Wade, PF | Junior
The other D-Wade finished top-10 in the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding, steals and three-point percentage. His versatility and size are certainly interesting from an NBA perspective, and while he was held out of the conference tourney semis due to a foot injury, he’s expected to be healthy in time to face Creighton. If he’s out, keep an eye on Barry Brown instead.
FLORIDA STATE: Phil Cofer, F | Senior
There’s no surefire NBA player on the Seminoles’ roster, but Cofer has the physical ability to compete at the next level, standing 6’8” with long arms and a thick upper body. He should be a better rebounder, and it’s doubtful his three-point shooting translates fully to the longer line, but a summer league invite certainly isn’t out of the question.
TEXAS: Mohamed Bamba, C | Freshman
The most imposing shot-blocker in college hoops, Bamba returned from his toe injury during the Big 12 tourney and will have had another week to recover by the time Texas faces Nevada. When he’s at his best, it’s must-watch basketball, and his sheer length and developing skill set makes him a coveted draft prospect. He’s projected to be a top-five pick.
OKLAHOMA: Trae Young, PG | Freshman
Young’s historic first half of the season tailed off drastically as defenses began to key on him, but he’s still a highly dangerous three-point shooter and playmaker and will make opponents’ film sessions miserable, beginning with Rhode Island. He’ll be a lottery pick regardless, but this will likely be his last chance to get loose as a Sooner, and should make for great theater.
BUTLER: Kamar Baldwin, PG | Sophomore
There’s no high-end pro talent on the Bulldogs’ roster, but Baldwin’s youth, toughness and scoring ability make him a player to follow over the next couple seasons. He’s a good rebounder and tough defender, but regressed as a three-point shooter while taking on a bigger share of the offense this season.
PROVIDENCE: Kyron Cartwright, PG | Senior
After sparking the Friars to a surprise run to the Big East finals, Cartwright will be pressed to keep that momentum rolling in the tournament. He’s just 5’11” and can play a bit out of control at times, but he’s a good passer, capable shooter and adds a degree of unpredictability to an otherwise uninspiring rotation. He may have punched his ticket to some NBA workouts, but is still a long shot.
UCLA: Aaron Holiday, PG | Junior
The younger brother of NBA guards Jrue and Justin, Holiday has been on a tear as a scorer of late, potent from outside (43%) and a smart facilitator who knows how to pick his spots. His lack of ideal height and explosiveness creates some limitations, but he’s played his way into first-round conversations among scouts. A big tournament could really help him.
SYRACUSE: Tyus Battle, SG | Sophomore
Seen as a potential second-round pick, Battle can fill up a box score, but he takes a lot of bad shots, and his numbers are a bit inflated by playing essentially 40 minutes per game all season. Some of it is situational, as Syracuse chooses to run an inordinate amount of offense through him. He’s athletic and can definitely score the ball, and placed in a different context will be worth re-assessing.
SAN DIEGO STATE: Malik Pope, F | Senior
A skilled 6’10” combo forward, Pope has been on NBA radars seemingly forever. A history of knee issues have hampered his college career. He’s inconsistent as a scorer and plays as more of a big for the Aztecs, but rebounds well and has the ability to stroke threes. Given his unique tools, he’ll end up with a chance to make the league. On the heels of a surprise run in the Mountain West tourney, Pope has a nice opportunity to leave a final impression before heading into pre-draft workouts.
ST. BONAVENTURE: Jaylen Adams, PG | Senior
If you want a sneaky guard-anchored team that can pull an upset or two, look no further than the Bonnies. Adams is a heady playmaker and deadly three-point shooter who has a chance to get drafted in the second round, having displayed growth and consistency over his four years in the A-10. He’s a fun watch, and could carve out a backup role at the next level.
ARIZONA STATE: Tra Holder, PG | Senior
The Sun Devils snuck into the tournament thanks largely to Holder, who led them to both their pivotal résumé wins with 40 points against Xavier and 30 against Kansas. He’s probably too small to make it long-term, but he’s a good decision-maker with the quickness to get to the foul line and get himself open off the dribble. He’s still an NBA longshot, but he’s the kind of guy you want to root for.
LOYOLA-CHICAGO: Donte Ingram, F | Senior
A crucial role player for a Ramblers squad with legitimate second-weekend potential, Ingram is a useful floor-spacer and all-conference player with a nice level of versatility to. He’s smooth, has a nice lefthanded stroke and led Loyola in rebounding, too. His effective, low-maintenance game should play overseas somewhere.
DAVIDSON: Peyton Aldridge, F | Senior
The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams around after rolling to an A-10 tournament title, and Aldridge’s superbly efficient scoring is a big reason why. He’s a deadly shooter from outside, a willing rebounder and makes few mistakes, making him a great candidate for a Portsmouth invite and a shot to make the NBA. He lacks a ton of athleticism at 6’8”, but he’s definitely talented and makes Davidson an interesting sleeper pick.
MURRAY STATE: Ja Morant, G | Freshman
Morant, an 18-year-old true freshman, logged a massive chunk of Murray State’s minutes this season as a lead guard. He’s got a long build with nice change-of-direction ability off the dribble and averaged 12 points, six rebounds and six assists in an inarguably impressive start to his career. File his name away for later.
NEW MEXICO STATE: Zach Lofton, G | Senior
The Aggies are as legit as small-conference teams come, having tallied some impressive wins, and Lofton is their go-to guy when buckets are needed. He’s a streaky but potent shooter and was highly efficient in a variety of situations this season. Lofton took a big step forward as a senior, and hopes of a tourney run rest largely on his shoulders.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: Mike Daum, F/C | Junior
The Jackrabbits are back in the tourney for the third year in a row, and so is Daum, who remains a deadly inside-out scorer and the focal point of the offense. Still a junior, he’s a sure bet to earn a Summer League invite whenever he comes out, and there’s been speculation he could grad transfer and become a hot commodity for high major programs. We showed the nation’s sixth-leading scorer some love earlier this season on our list of mid-major stars to watch.
MARSHALL: Ajdin Penava, F/C | Junior
Born in Bosnia, Penava is a sneakily interesting pro prospect, averaging an impressive 21 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per-40 while making 33% of his threes. He’s not explosive, but he’s long and skilled at 6’9” and gave Xavier 25 points back in December. Penava is on the fringe, but his production alone warrants a look, and the tourney is a nice opportunity to raise his profile.
CHARLESTON: Joe Chealey, PG | Senior
Chealey was the CAA’s Preseason Player of the Year, and at 6’4” has nice size for his position. His shooting percentages were way down this season, but he can hit tough shots, has a nice frame and degree of athleticism, and gets to the foul line at a high rate. He could be an NBA summer league candidate if things break right.
BUFFALO: CJ Massinburg, G | Junior
Averaging 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists coming into the tourney, Massinburg is the Buffalo player to track. He’s undersized for an off-guard, but he’s a good offensive rebounder and a tough finisher with a quick first step. He earned a first team All-MAC nod and could be a candidate for Portsmouth in a year’s time.
UNC GREENSBORO: Francis Alonso, G | Junior
A three-point specialist from Spain and UNC Greensboro’s leading scorer, Alonso (41.% from downtown) is about as fringy as it gets. Nope, this isn’t a perfect exercise.
BUCKNELL: Nana Foulland, C | Senior
A legitimately intriguing player at 6’9”, Foulland has nice length and good touch with either hand on the block and was the Patriot League Player of the Year in 2017. He’s not exceptionally athletic, but he’s the type of player who can give high-major opponents fits if they don’t have the size to handle him in the post. His offensive game likely isn’t diverse enough for the NBA, but there’s definite talent here.
MONTANA: Ahmaad Rorie, PG | Junior
In his second season with the Grizzlies after transferring from Oregon, Rorie regressed a bit statistically but remained a crucial player. He’s a crafty scorer using ball screens and gives Montana some playmaking juice, rarely leaving the floor as much of the offense runs through him. He has his team poised to play spoiler.
WRIGHT STATE: Loudon Love, C | Freshman
A former high school football player, Love had quite a freshman year, finishing top-20 nationally in defensive rebound rate and posting nine double-doubles. He anchors the Raiders in the post and can be quite a load to deal with. Love is probably too much of a throwback big to be considered a true NBA prospect, but hey—time is on his side.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN: TJ Holyfield, F | Junior
Though undersized for a big, Holyfield’s defensive mobility, shot-blocking and three-point shooting at least give him a semblance of a modern skill-set. He’s an athletic finisher around the basket and the Lumberjacks’ linchpin on the inside. SFA is the best team in the country when it comes to forcing turnovers, and his ability to protect the basket in an uptempo game is all the more critical.
GEORGIA STATE: D’Marcus Simonds, G | Sophomore
Make no mistake, Simonds is a legitimate NBA prospect, with a great blend of athletic slashing skills, size and playmaking. He’s coming off a dominant showing (27 PTS, 4 AST, 5 REB) against UT-Arlington to win the Sun Belt tournament and can keep helping himself from here. He’s far from consistent and needs to mature as a player, so another year of school is probably on tap. You’ll be hearing his name again, regardless.
CAL STATE-FULLERTON: Kyle Allman, G | Junior
Allman, a Brooklyn native, sealed Fullerton’s bid with a 26-point showing after leading the conference in scoring (19.4 per game). He’s a 43% shooter from deep and adept at drawing fouls and getting to the line. After dropping 34 on Georgia and 30 on Cal earlier in the season, he’s a player worthy of real defensive attention at the very least.
IONA: E.J. Crawford, F | Sophomore
Crawford was highly efficient in a combo forward role this season (1.109 points per possession placed him in the 94th percentile of scorers nationally) and is already one of the Gaels’ go-to guys. A nimble lefthanded slasher, he has a nice inside-out game and some time to develop his game over the next couple years. He’s the most projectable guy on the roster.
LIPSCOMB: Garrison Matthews, SG | Junior
After demolishing Florida Gulf Coast with a 33-point to win the A-Sun tourney, Matthews and his smooth three-point stroke leads the Bisons into the tournament. He’s a volume threat from outside and drew an inordinate number of fouls this season (7.4 per-40 minutes) on his way to leading the conference in scoring.
TEXAS SOUTHERN: Trayvon Reed, C | Junior
Reed, who stands 7’2”, finally got some burn this year after transferring in from Auburn. He’s huge and managed some nice statistics (10% block rate and 71% shooting on twos), although you have to consider the competition. His blend of size and production makes him a pro prospect on some level, at least.
UMBC: Jairus Lyles, G | Senior
To call Lyles (who hit the buzzer beater against Vermont to get the Retrievers into the dance) a go-to guy is an understatement. He takes nearly a third of the team’s shots when on the floor. A huge game from Lyles, who started his career at VCU, isn’t out of the question.
NC CENTRAL: Jordan Perkins, PG | Freshman
Perkins’s 36.4% assist rate ranks him among the best in the country, and while some of that has to be scheme-related, it’s certainly an outlier number for a freshman. He could be a name to file away for way, way later.
PENN: AJ Brodeur, F | Sophomore
Back-to-back double-doubles from Brodeur boosted Penn to an Ivy League tourney title, and he’s been an important piece for the Quakers all season, with a strong build and some ability as a passer and shot-blocker. He can be a force on the block and can command double-teams. Improving his three-point shooting is the next step.
RADFORD: Leroy Butts, F | Freshman
After a bizarre, wayward path that included committing to Rutgers, signing with Rhode Island and academic issues that sent him to Coastal Carolina (where he never played), Butts wound up at Radford. The former three-star recruit hardly got off the bench this season, but if you have to pick one prospect here…
LIU-BROOKLYN: Joel Hernandez, G | Senior
Hernandez’s 32 points against Wagner in the NEC final was his fifth straight game with 20-plus points, and he’s paced the Blackbirds all season with high-volume scoring. He’s streaky and not always efficient. Yeah, we’re reaching here.