Patrick OBryant announced his presence to the national audience with a career high 28 points and an unlikely Sweet 16 berth. Two players by the name of Marcus Williams help their draft stock out with terrific individual performances, one in a winning effort and one for the losers. Rajon Rondo likely finishes up his career at Kentucky with a solid all-around performance concluding in a loss. LaMarcus Aldridge comes up extremely flat for Texas but still sees his team win emphatically without him. Those and much more in our fourth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Up prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Patrick O'Bryant, 70, Sophomore, Center, Bradley
28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 10-17 FG, 8-9 FT
O'Bryant was very impressive offensively, posting up Gray for most of his 28 points. He had no problem establishing position, receiving the ball very deep in the post on multiple occasions. He had a few easy lay-ins and dunks from the good positioning, but also showed he can work for his baskets from further out in the post. Over the course of the game, OBryant exhibited a turnaround jumper from a few feet out, a drop-step move on the baseline, and a jump hook across the lane, which seems to be his weapon of choice.
Defensively, OBryant had a pretty strong impact, showing bursts of good man and weakside defense. He was outplayed by Gray on a few plays in the post, but also blocked him once, stole the ball from him on another occasion, and contained him on quite a few other possessions. There were a few instances where he lost Gray in the possession, letting him get deep under the basket for an easy dunk or lay-in. He also played some pretty solid weakside defense, altering a few shots and making most of the necessary rotations. He uses his length and mobility especially well on the defensive end.
It should also be noted that OBryant stepped up huge in the clutch with the game hanging in the balance. He had a crucial rebound as the game was getting close with 2:11 remaining. He then hit 6-of-6 free throws as time winded down, helping secure the win for Bradley.
While there were a lot of positives for OBryant today, he has some significant weaknesses he needs to work on. He has no mid-range game to speak of, as he scores all of his points around the basket. He could be a much more effective player if he added this element to his game. OBryants effort also wavers throughout a game, not consistently showing the fire to be as good as he could. He seemingly never boxes out on rebounds and doesnt fight very hard for them in general. He also seems to take a lot of plays off, simply going through the motions and not giving it his all. This could in part be due to conditioning as well as motivation, though.
OBryant has a great set of physical tools, possessing excellent mobility, length, and size. His athleticism wont blow you away, but hes very fluid and mobile and has all the tools one could want from a center. OBryant also has a sort of misleading strength. He looks pretty thin, but he makes good use of his frame. That said, his frame could stand to add quite a bit more bulk, and he could definitely use the extra strength. OBryant would probably be best served spending another year in college getting into better shape and developing a mid-range game, but considering the market for athletic and long 7 footers in a draft like this and the likelihood of ever getting the type of exposure hes receiving right now after an unlikely Sweet Sixteen berth, it wouldnt surprise anyone at DraftExpress to see him declare for this years draft.
Marcus Williams, 63, Junior, Point Guard, UConn
20 points, 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 6-10 FG, 0-1 3P, 8-9 FT, 30 minutes
He started off the game calmly and in control, getting everyone around him involved and doing a wonderful job (as usual) of getting inside the lane and finding the open man with ease. His knack for penetrating Kentuckys tight zone with his outstanding ball-handling skills was likely the difference maker in this closely contested and high-scoring contest. Unlike what weve been accustomed to in the past, though, Kentuckys frontcourt appeared to have been instructed to not rotate over and instead forced him to finish the play himself. Williams did not have much of a problem doing so, using his excellent strength to score with the glass or getting to the free throw line once Kentuckys big men did rotate over after it was clear that he was going all the way. 16 of his 20 points came in the 2nd half when UConns big men were struggling with foul trouble and/or mediocrity.
Williams mixed up his scoring with his passing as well, dishing out 5 or 8 assists depending on which boxscore you believe, making a number of sensational full-court pinpoint passes with the greatest of ease. His huge hands allowed him to just whip passes all over the floor with his trademark quick release and delivery, whether it was sideways to a shooter spotting up on the wing or forwards into the post to one of his bigs.
He was poised in the clutch as well, knocking down four big free throws to ice the game for his team. All in all Marcus Williams is having a phenomenal NCAA tournament so far.
Marcus Williams, 67, Freshman, Shooting Guard, Arizona
24 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 6-18 FG, 12-15 FT, 0-6 3P
Defensively, despite spending the bulk of his minutes matched against players with point guard quickness, Williams did an admirable job containing the Nova guards. What he lacked in quickness he compensated for with length and intelligence, doing well to stay in front of whomever he was assigned to. Even when he lost his man, he could use his wingspan to poke the ball away from behind. He also managed to get his hands on a lot of passes and loose balls over the course of the game. Early in the second half, Williams was getting assigned to whichever guard was hottest, at one point shutting down Villanova guard Randy Foye for a few consecutive plays.
Williams never let up in effort the entire game. He was constantly hustling and fighting for boards, getting to the line a few times because of it. Williams does have some things he needs to work on, though, and should definitely come back for his sophomore season at Arizona. He would do himself well to improve his shot-creating ability, allowing him to play a greater role in the offense. He also could improve both his mid-range and outside shot. He had quite a few horrible misses from the outside today, though he is a 48% shooter from behind the arc on the season, on a very limited number of attempts. He also has a very thin frame and should work to add some extra strength, which would make him even harder to contain in the lane. All in all we are talking about a player with terrific potential both as a college player as well as an NBA prospect, and it will be fascinating to see what kind of role he assumes next year in Tucson.
Rudy Gay, 69 Sophomore, Small Forward, UConn
19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 7-14 FG, 0-2 3P, 5-6 FT
Gay looked much more aggressive in this particular game, taking 14 shots and being willing and able to step up and take responsibilities when the situation called for it.
He elevated high off the dribble for a smooth high-arcing mid-range jump-shot on numerous occasions, attacked the glass relentlessly and played decent defense inside the paint defending power forwards. He also ran the floor extremely hard to help his team push the tempo of the game and showed off his incredible athleticism with an exhilarating dunk in transition
With most of UConns big men either in foul trouble or playing poorly, Gay was forced to slide over to the power forward spot for large stretches of the 2nd half, which he handled satisfactory fashion. Hitting two clutch free throws with 3 seconds remaining in the game was a very nice way for him to finish off the day.
All in all this was not a performance that Rudy Gay fans will cherish for years to come, but it was certainly not a disappointing one either. Currently projected as the #3 pick, this game didnt do much to sway us one way or another about where he might end up being drafted.
Roy Hibbert, 7'2, Sophomore, Center, Georgetown
20 points, 14 rebounds, 7-13 FG's, 6-7 FT's, 3 blocks
Ohio State is a perimeter-oriented team, and Thad Matta is really only comfortable playing one big man in his rotation. Terence Dials is a crafty veteran that makes the most out of his physical gifts, but he was no match for the massive Hibbert. The Hoyas looked for Hibbert in the paint consistently throughout the game, and in most cases he simply overpowered his man for easy looks around the basket. However, there were flashes of brilliance. A spin move past Dials down the middle of the lane would normally be foolish for a player the size of Hibbert, but he had the awareness to recognize that no help defense was coming. His footwork has steadily improved throughout the season, and for a player of Hibbert's size, a strong drop step is all one needs sometimes.
There is a lot to like about Roy Hibbert right now. He's got the size that will make any scout drool, and is improving at a rapid rate. He still has a long ways to go in terms of athleticism and getting used to the speed of the game, but one gets the feeling that this will come with time considering his intelligence, intangibles and the feel for the game he has shown throughout the year. Keep in mind that Hibbert has faced ideal matchups in his past two games, and that this is about to change against Florida. The Gators have the horses to contain the latest Hoya behemoth, and it will be interesting to how Roy Hibbert responds.
Allan Ray, 6-2, Senior, Shooting Guard, Villanova
25 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 rebound, 7-16 FG, 4-9 3P, 7-8 FT
Things didnt start off all that well for Ray in the 1st half, as he was clearly forcing the issue a bit by over-handling the ball, taking some extremely tough contested shots (that he would later make with ease in the 2nd half) and not showing the best decision making in half-court sets.
All of that was quickly forgotten once the 2nd half started, as Ray put up 20 points and carried Villanova on his back to victory over a very talented and athletic Arizona team. Ray was unguardable both on and off the ball, hitting almost every shot he took from different spots on the floor, both in catch and shoot and off the dribble fashion from mid-range or behind the arc. Ray did an excellent job creating shots for himself, but never really with the intent of creating for anyone else besides himself, clearly showing us that he is still very obviously a shooting guard in a point guards body, but a very dangerous one at that. When Villanova needed someone to step up and knock down clutch free throws, it was Ray that calmly did the job with 4 big ones down the stretch.
These are the type of streaky performances weve become accustomed to seeing all year long from Villanovas flamboyant guard, and if he keeps this up there is no reason to believe he wont get a shot to do the same next year in the NBA as well.
PJ Tucker, 6-5, Junior, Small Forward, Texas
17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 7-14 FG
Throughout the season, Tucker has been the first option and the most consistent player on Texas. He has expanded his perimeter game, and is starting to look more and more like a power 3, rather than a power forward trying to play the small forward position. Many people remain skeptical about how his game will translate to the NBA, but he continues to show more of a perimeter game each time he steps on the court.
For players like Tucker there is nothing better that can be done to improve their stock by putting up outstanding numbers on a consistent basis and leading his team to success. With each round he advances, his exposure to top-level NBA executives increases and his fans in those ranks multiply. Traditional scouts might find a tough time projecting him to a certain position or role because of his size and non-existent 3-point shot, but youd be hard pressed to find a coach who doesnt love his style of play. They often have just as much influence if not more in NBA war rooms on draft night anyway.
Mustafa Shakur, 6-4, Senior, Point Guard, Arizona
21 points, 5 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 7-11 FG, 4-4 3P, 3-3 FT
Shakur once again ran his team quite well, slashing confidently to the hoop and finding teammates on the drive and dish. He was outstanding in transition and pushed the tempo of the game quite well, looking very focused as extremely well prepared by his legendary coach that made a name for himself partially with his ability to develop outstanding lead guards for the NBA. The revival of his outside shot might have been the best sign of this tournament, nailing all 4 of his attempts in this game and 7 of 9 overall. 3 of those came in the 2nd half in impressive fashion, stepping back confidently off the dribble and looking very comfortable knocking them down. He used the threat of his outside shot to penetrate the lane with his excellent first step, and looked terrific all game long finding the open man after drawing the defense in.
It wasnt a flawless performance from Arizonas much maligned and highly touted point guard coming in from high school, but he again showed most of the skills NBA scouts look for in point guards as well as a huge upside to improve. Shakur doesnt have anywhere close to the body of work he needs to consider coming out this summer, but if he continues to play this way in his senior year there is little doubt that he will find himself as a first round pick when its all said and done.
Daniel Gibson, 6-3, Sophomore, PG/SG, Texas
17 points, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 6-13FG
Throughout this season, Gibson has built up the reputation of being a shoot first point guard who takes bad shots, and doesnt involve his teammates much. Though he still didnt look like the best floor general against NC State, he didnt force any shots either, and made some nice passes on drives to the hoop. This time he was burned on defense more than weve been accustomed to seeing from him, though he did get his hands in the passing lanes on a couple occasions. It doesnt appear that Gibson will ever be a pass first point guard, or somebody whos great at running a half court set. But if he continues to take good shots, and pass the ball inside more during the rest of the NCAA Tournament, Daniel Gibson could really help his draft stock which might have reached rock bottom leading up to March.
Rajon Rondo, 6-2, Sophomore, Point Guard, Kentucky
11 points, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 8 rebounds, 5-10 FG, 1-2 3P, 29 minutes
Rondo started off the game extremely aggressive, slashing his way to the hoop repeatedly thanks to his outstanding ball-handling skills, finding the open man from both static positions as well as off the dribble, and generally running his team with the type of confidence and poise we havent seen enough of from him this season.
If Kentucky had anywhere near the talent that their opponent did today in terms of knocking down open shots and finishing around the basket, he likely would have finished with double-digit assists at the very least. He also played pretty good defense for large stretches of the game, clearly bothering Marcus Williams with his length and quickness, but struggled to get around the numerous screens UConn set to help him get by him and into the lane. The way he rebounded in traffic time after time showed a lot about just how tough and athletic he is going after the ball. And just when you thought you could completely write off any chance he has of ever developing a perimeter stroke, he nails a contested 3-pointer from NBA range to beat the shot clock.
All in all this probably isnt the way Rondo thought his career at Kentucky would end when he decided to commit to the most successful program in college basketball history, but considering the dearth of point guards in this draft and the way he was micromanaged and underutilized this season, its a little bit difficult to envision him returning.
Hassan Adams, 64, Senior, Small Forward, Arizona
20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover, 9-19 FG, 2-2 FT, 0-3 3P
Defensively, Adams had a pretty solid game, not gambling as much as he often does. He did lose Villanova guard Randy Foye on a few occasions, but hes a tough cover for anyone. He spent most of the game playing smart, solid defense while still playing the passing lanes, getting three steals as a result. Some of these led to transition opportunities, where Adams did well as always.
Adams neither hurt nor helped his draft stock in the tournament this year. He still has a questionable perimeter game and questionable ball-handling, to go along with a tendency to play too aggressively on the defensive end. He is a fringe first-rounder at this point, though he could still improve his stock at the pre-draft camp and workouts.
Randy Foye, 6-4, Senior, PG/SG, Villanova
24 points, 1 assist, 7 turnovers, 2 steals, 9-19 FG, 4-8 3P, 2-4 FT
Foye actually started off the game quite well, knocking down a number of contested 3-pointers created for him by Villanovas guards, as well showing outstanding tenacity and ball-handling skills slashing his way into the lane and finishing strong. He kept Villanova in the game in the first half mostly with what he did off the dribble, creating repeatedly and bullying his way into the lane while getting to the rim at will. He scored 18 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, and then capped off his outstanding first half by knocking down an extremely difficult jump-shot as time expired. Throughout the first half Foye looked strictly like a shooting guard, though, not getting anyone else involved in the game, driving with his head down and showing absolutely no point guard skills even when he was manning the position.
He was almost silent in the 2nd half, scoring only 2 points until he came up with a huge bucket off a slashing move in the paint with just over a minute left in the game. Not only did Foye look like a shooting guard in this game with his single assist compared with 7 turnovers, he looked like an extremely streaky one at that. Two huge free throws that he missed with 35 seconds remaining had the potential to end his fantastic career at Villanova on an extremely sour note, but his fellow streaky teammate Allan Ray would not let that happen by taking care of business over the remainder of the contest.
Terence Dials, 6'9, Senior, Power Forward, Ohio State
19 points, 4 rebounds, 6-11 FG's, 7-7 FT's
While Dials, the Big Ten Player of the Year, is certainly a formidable offensive weapon at the college level, there is much doubt as to how his game will translate on the next level. His size and strength advantage just won't be there in the NBA, and he will have to prove himself at the Draft Camps this spring.
Rashad Anderson, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, UConn
14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 5-10 FG, 4-9 3P, 15 minutes
LaMarcus Aldridge, 6-11, Sophomore, PF/C, Texas
10 points, 8 rebounds, 2-9 FG, 6-8 FT
Before the NCAA Tournament, we said that Aldridge would best help his draft stock by showing a bit of a mean streak and consistently showing up at the top of his game. He has done neither of these things thus far, and the spot atop the draft board looks as wide open as ever. If he can bounce back and become the main guy for Texas over the next couple of games, it would help Aldridge greatly, but more inconsistent play will leave his draft stock a bit up in the air.
Aaron Gray, 70, Junior, Center, Pitt
12 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 0 blocks, 5-11 FG, 2-2 FT, 4 fouls, 22 minutes
Gray was frustrated almost the entire game by OBryants superior length and athleticism, being too slow to react to his quick moves in the post and committing a number of foolish fouls that completely took him out of the game mentally. At one point in the 2nd half he was rightfully called for a five second violation after taking what seemed like an hour to do anything after receiving the ball with his back to the basket. Gray completely lost his composure immediately after the call and slammed the ball to the ground violently letting it bounce high above his head as the referee signaled for a technical foul, his 3rd of the game at a very critical juncture for Pitt.
OBryant went on to score a career high 28 points, slithering his way for many of his points around the plodding Gray who looked too slow, out of shape and uncoordinated to do anything to stop him. Offensively Gray managed to establish deep position on a number of occasions, but not nearly as much as weve become accustomed to watching him play in the Big East. His poor touch around the rim that weve seen all season came to play again at times, causing him to miss from point-blank range rather than just going up and dunking the ball strong.
Gray is a much better basketball player than he showed in this game for those who hadnt seen him before, but dedicating a full summer to getting his body in perfect shape to make up for his lack of athleticism will be needed before he is ready to show off his skills in front of NBA GMs in private workouts. He could very well still declare for the draft this year, but will have a tougher time finding a spot at the end of the 1st round after finishing his season in such a disappointing way.
Rodney Carney, 67, Senior, Shooting Guard, Memphis
10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 3-10 FG, 3-5 FT, 1-5 3P
On the defensive end, Carney was much more aggressive, especially in the later stages of the game. He still had a fair share of plays where he wasnt sticking his man, playing the lackluster D that got him in trouble earlier in the season. But for the most part, Carney was aggressive on the defensive end, using his length to disrupt in the passing lanes, starting a few fast-break opportunities because of it. This, in turn, led to some gambles where he lost his man, but at least he was putting in effort on this end of the floor.
Carneys problems with consistency, focus, and shot selection have been a recurring issue in his four years at Memphis, not showing many signs of going away. He could help his draft stock by increasing his focus and aggressiveness for the rest of the tournament, though hell likely be a lottery pick regardless based on his upside and the way we expect him to perform in workouts.