NCAA Tournament: First Round NBA Prospect Breakdown

NCAA Tournament: First Round NBA Prospect Breakdown
Mar 11, 2012, 11:55 pm
With the 2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket officially set, we take a look at how the first-round match-ups shape up from a NBA Draft perspective.

Note: The players listed next to each team are those appearing in our current rankings of the top-100 prospects for the 2012 draft.

Thursday Games


1 Kentucky: #1 Anthony Davis, #2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, #11 Terrence Jones, #35 Doron Lamb, #38 Marquis Teague, #88 Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer
16 Mississippi Valley State/Western Kentucky

8 Iowa St.: #72 Royce White
9 Connecticut: #4 Andre Drummond, #12 Jeremy Lamb, #91 Alex Oriakhi, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, DeAndre Daniels


6 Murray State: Isaiah Canaan
11 Colorado St.

3 Marquette: #44 Darius Johnson-Odom, #52 Jae Crowder, Vander Blue
14 BYU/Iona: #50 Scott Machado (Iona)


This pod is all but certain to draw NBA scouts (particularly those representing lottery-bound teams) en mass on Saturday should UConn manage to knock off a talented Iowa State squad in round one on Thursday. Anthony Davis vs. Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are matchups made in heaven for professional talent evaluators and could go a long ways in helping UConn's prospects improve their slumping draft stocks.

On the other side of the bracket, NBA teams would surely appreciate the opportunity to see Scott Machado and Iona go up against a staunch and tough Marquette defense that should challenge them far more than they're normally accustomed to in the Metro Atlantic Conference. They'll have to get by BYU in Dayton first.

The same can be said for productive combo guard Isaiah Canaan and Murray State regarding a potential matchup with Marquette should they meet in the second round.


6 UNLV: #29 Mike Moser, Chace Stanback
11 Colorado: #64 Andre Roberson

3 Baylor: #8 Perry Jones, #14 Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy, Deuce Bello
14 South Dakota St.: Nate Wolters


5 Vanderbilt: #20 Jeff Taylor, #34 Festus Ezeli, #46 John Jenkins, Dai-Jon Parker
12 Harvard: Keith Wright

4 Wisconsin: #78 Jordan Taylor
13 Montana


This pod gives NBA scouts the opportunity to see two of the most athletic power forwards in college basketball—Colorado's Andre Roberson and UNLV's Mike Moser—matching up head to head. Both sophomores could surely use the boost in their NBA stock that a strong tournament run can provide if they are hoping to enter the draft this spring.

Immediately afterwards, scouts will be treated to a highly intriguing matchup between one of the best point guards coming from the mid-major ranks—South Dakota State's Nate Wolters—and the uber-athletic Baylor frontcourt. Tucked away in the Summit League, scouts rarely get to evaluate how Wolters fares against NBA level size and length, making this a terrific test for the creative sophomore. If Wolters can show that he can continue to get to spots on the floor and make plays at the same rate, that would go a long ways in convincing them that his production is legit.

The potential second round matchup on Saturday between Vanderbilt and Wisconsin is an interesting contrast in styles and a rare opportunity for scouts to see four of the best upperclassmen in the NCAA in Jeff Taylor, Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins and Jordan Taylor on the court at the same time.


1 Syracuse: #23 Dion Waiters, #49 Fab Melo, #60 Kris Joseph, Michael Carter-Williams, Rakeem Christmas, C.J. Fair, Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche
16 UNC-Asheville

8 Kansas State
9 Southern Miss


7 Gonzaga: #98 Robert Sacre, Elias Harris
10 West Virginia: #39 Kevin Jones

2 Ohio St.: #5 Jared Sullinger, #59 William Buford, Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas
15 Loyola (Md.)


The matchup between Gonzaga's Elias Harris and West Virginia's Kevin Jones appears to be the best one in this pod from a NBA draft perspective on Thursday. Plenty of scouts would love to see West Virginia pull the upset to set up a second round matchup between Jones and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, as few NCAA big men are as capable of giving Sullinger as tough of a time as Jones can on both ends of the floor.

NBA scouts will have interest in watching Syracuse's talented squad, but they may have to wait until the Sweet 16 to see how they stack up against NBA-level competition, should they make it that far.


5 New Mexico: #90 Drew Gordon
12 Long Beach St.: Casper Ware

4 Louisville: Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear, Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan
13 Davidson
: De'Mon Brooks, Chris Czerapowicz


5 Wichita St.: #100 Garrett Stutz
12 VCU: Bradford Burgess

4 Indiana: #18 Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo
13 New Mexico State: Wendell McKines

Portland doesn't look like a hot-spot for NBA scouts relative to some of the other pods featuring higher concentrations of prospects, but there will certainly be some good basketball being played there nonetheless. A very intriguing second round matchup looms between Wichita State senior Garett Stutz and Indiana freshman Cody Zeller as well as another between New Mexico senior Drew Gordon and Louisville sophomoreGorgui Dieng, should the favorites all advance on Thursday.

Friday Games


7 Notre Dame: Jerian Grant
10 Xavier
: #57 Tu Holloway

2 Duke: #16 Austin Rivers, #27 Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry, Miles Plumlee
15 Lehigh: C.J. McCollum


1 North Carolina: #6 Harrison Barnes, #9 John Henson, #10 Tyler Zeller, #19 Kendall Marshall, #26 James McAdoo, #65 Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston
16 Lamar/Vermont

8 Creighton: #71 Doug McDermott
9 Alabama: #80 JaMychal Green


All season long NBA scouts have been watching the exploits of Lehigh junior C.J. McCollum, one of the top scorers in college basketball, wondering how to evaluate his numbers. His matchup on Friday with Austin Rivers and Duke should provide some very interesting insight into that, even though Duke's perimeter defense has been pretty flimsy at times this season.

The same can be said for All-American Tu Holloway and Xavier regarding a potential matchup with Duke, should they meet in the second round.

After McCollum's matchup with the Blue Devils, another top-scoring mid-major star will get a major test when Creighton's Doug McDermott goes up against the staunch defense of JaMychal Green and Alabama. Despite putting up huge numbers early this season, McDermott hasn't been generating a great deal of NBA buzz, but he has a chance to change that with strong outings against Alabama and potentially North Carolina should Creighton advance.


6 Cincinnati: #87 Yancy Gates, Dion Dixon
11 Texas: #32 Myck Kabongo, #62 J'Covan Brown

3 Florida St.: #85 Bernard James, Michael Snaer, Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Okaro White, Jon Kreft, Ian Miller
14 St. Bonaventure: #41 Andrew Nicholson


5 Temple: Juan Fernandez
12 California/South Florida: Jorge Gutierrez, Allan Crabbe (Cal), Augustus Gilchrist (USF)

4 Michigan: Trey Burke
13 Ohio

No player has helped his draft stock this March as much as St. Bonaventure senior Andrew Nicholson, who willed his team to an automatic bid with a phenomenal Atlantic-10 tournament performance. NBA scouts who were caught off-guard will likely descend on Nashville to see how he's able to perform against one of the most athletic teams in college basketball in Florida State, who happens to be one of the strongest defensive squads as well. Bernard James, Xavier Gibson, Okaro White, and Jon Kreft will likely look to deny Nicholson the ball as much as possible and force his teammates to beat them. It will certainly be interesting to see how Nicholson responds to that challenge.


1 Michigan St.: #99 Draymond Green, Keith Appling, Adreian Payne
16 Long Island

8 Memphis: #33 Adonis Thomas, #40 Will Barton, Tarik Black, Joe Jackson
9 St. Louis


6 San Diego State
11 N.C. State
: #42 C.J. Leslie, #67 Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell

3 Georgetown: #66 Henry Sims, #70 Hollis Thompson, Otto Porter
14 Belmont


Columbus probably won't be a prime destination for scouts looking to take in high-level matchups between NBA prospects on Friday, but the second round on Sunday could be a different story depending on how things play out. N.C. State will likely be heavily picked to upset San Diego State, and should they be able to advance along with Georgetown, a very interesting matchup could be in store for NBA scouts. Seeing C.J. Leslie vs. Otto Porter and Richard Howell vs. Henry Sims would certainly catch their attention.

Memphis will have its hands full with St. Louis, but should they prevail, they look like exactly the type of deep and athletic roster that can give #1 seed Michigan State a run for their money considering how well they've been playing as of late. Will Barton needs to continue to gain momentum if he's hoping to launch a successful draft campaign this spring, while super productive Draymond Green always has something to prove to scouts considering his limited physical tools.


7 Florida: #7 Bradley Beal, #22 Patric Young, Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton
10 Virginia: #69 Mike Scott

2 Missouri: #53 Marcus Denmon, #58 Ricardo Ratliffe, #86 Kim English, Phil Pressey
15 Norfolk St.: Kyle O'Quinn


7 St. Mary's
10 Purdue: Robbie Hummel

2 Kansas: #3 Thomas Robinson, #31 Tyshawn Taylor, #76 Elijah Johnson, #94 Jeff Withey
15 Detroit: #81 Ray McCallum, Eli Holman, LaMarcus Lowe


Virginia's Mike Scott is one of the most productive big men in college basketball, and his matchup with Florida's Patric Young should be one of the better frontcourt standoffs in the first round. While not blessed with Young's frame or athleticism, Scott is extremely skilled both in the post and on the perimeter, and presents a unique matchup problem. If Young can find a way to contribute offensively, and possibly even get Scott in foul trouble, Florida will have a much better chance of advancing.

A win for Florida could set up another extremely intriguing matchup with plenty of NBA draft implications on Sunday with #2 seed Missouri. The Tigers have a couple of prospects of their own who could surely use the stock boost a strong NCAA tournament performance could provide. Marcus Denmon would likely go head to head with projected lottery pick Bradley Beal, while Ricardo Ratliffe would match up with Patric Young.

Missouri will first need to get past Norfolk State and their talented big man Kyle O'Quinn, who could certainly pose a matchup problem for Ratliffe with his high skill-level. For O'Quinn, this represents a rare opportunity to prove he can produce against a NBA prospect big man.

While the Kansas-Detroit matchup on paper may look like just another chance for a two seed to beat up on a lowly 15 seed, this could very well turn into an interesting contest with legit NBA draft implications. Detroit is led by former McDonald's All-American point guard Ray McCollum, a sophomore who could have gone to virtually any school in the country. Their frontcourt features two extremely athletic, 6'10 big men in Eli Holman and LaMarcus Low. Both are seniors and are more than capable of putting a body on Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. While it may not necessarily be realistic to expect Detroit to win this game, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they at least give Kansas a scare.

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