Through NBA Eyes: Round 2 of the NCAA Tourney

Originally posted Mar 20, 2010 9:42 AM PDT

This is a follow-up to the first installment of Through NBA Eyes. This weekend's matchups feature a few more key head-to-head matchups between potential NBA draft picks. I'll try to keep it brief this time since we only had a whopping four comments last time, one of which was spam!

Here's what to watch for this weekend -- please note, I've found that game times can change on a whim, so while CBS has published these tipoff times, they are very likely to change, most likely delayed. Assuming the Warriors get the 3rd pick in the NBA Draft and are looking for big men (two assumptions that could very well get blown out of the water in due time), we most likely need to keep an eye on...

  • DeMarcus Cousins (6'11") of Kentucky, and
  • Derrick Favors (6'11") of Georgia Tech

Saturday, March 20, 2010

  • 11:05am PDT: #2 Villanova vs #10 St. Mary's. Big man local boy (out of San Ramon) 6'11" 260 Omar Samhan finally gets to go up against some Big East frontline talent, with freshman 7'0" 250 Mouphtaou Yarou. Also, Villanova has fringe draft prospect Scottie Reynolds (6'1") at the point, to be guarded by St. Mary's tall freshman point, 6'4" Matt Dellavedova, who is not a draft prospect at the moment. Reynolds tends to manufacture his points in crafty veteran ways, but I'm not sure he's been D'ed up by someone as scrappy as Dellavedova. Anyways, all these guys are truly fringe draft prospects, but I thought I'd list it since there's nothing else to watch this early on.
  • 2:50pm PDT: #3 New Mexico vs #11 Washington. Another battle of up-and-coming small forwards. I haven't seen him play, but New Mexico has 6'7" 205 Darington Hobson, a junior who's on DraftExpress at #51 and not listed on NBAdraft.net. A great head-to-head matchup against the aforementioned (in the previous installment) Quincy Pondexter of Washington. Both players have a chance to improve their draft stock, mostly Hobson because of Pondexter great performance on Thursday.
  • 5:10pm PDT: #2 Kansas State vs #7 BYU. Here's another overlap. I might need to rant on another blogpost, but I simply cannot comprehend how the NCAA and CBS can end up directly overlapping games. We have sixteen arenas, three time zones, and only sixteen teams to deal with now. Is it really mathematically impossible to have games overlap by halves, as opposed to entirely? Anyways, the key matchup here really only involves one NBA prospect: BYU's Jimmer Fredette, point-shooter and, as I described previously, a bigger, slower Stephen Curry. However, Kansas State's point guard Jacob Pullen, while too short and not explosive enough to be an NBA prospect, has a lot of heart and plays great defense, so it will be a good test for Fredette, especially considering that he's made enough waves for opponents to take notice and prepare against. Overall, Fredette probably has already played his way onto the draft board. He's such a unique player, I don't see an NBA GM or owner passing him up. In fact, I'll bet a few owners made some phone calls to their minions after being enamored by Fredette the other day. He's also a crowd favorite, very hard to root against.
  • 5:15pm PDT: #1 Kentucky vs #9 Wake Forest -- POTENTIAL FUTURE WARRIOR ALERT! (DeMarcus Cousins). Interestingly, the ballyhooed (in the previous installment) Al-Farouq Aminu will be matched up against Kentucky's weakest link, at small forward. But then he'll have to face DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson at the rim (also, Daniel Orton off the bench). NBA scouts will be salivating over this game, but it will be from the perspective of evaluating Aminu against bonafide NBA bodies and talent. This is a huge opportunity for Aminu, and Wake Forest doesn't even have to win. Team-wise, this is one of the few NBA-level athletic games you might see in the NCAA Tournament. Definitely a can't-miss.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

  • 9:10am PDT: #1 Syracuse vs #8 Gonzaga. What a matchup at point guard and small forward, particularly small forward. Wes Johnson goes straight up against Elias Harris. Johnson is freaky athletic and long, aside from being talented, which makes him a lottery pick, while Harris has shown flashes this year and needs a breakout game against bonafide talent. Harris is still probably not ready for the Draft. In the backcourt, Syracuse's Andy Rautins (6'4") goes up against Matt Bouldin (6'5"). They have similar heights and both aren't particularly fast, so nothing to gain in the athleticism department, but plenty to observe in the basketball IQ department.
  • 11:20am PDT: #2 Ohio State vs #10 Georgia Tech -- POTENTIAL FUTURE WARRIOR ALERT (Derrick Favors)! It'll be interesting to see how Georgia Tech D's up Evan Turner. Georgia Tech's backcourt has a proportion similar to Ohio State's, whereby the tallest player in the backcourt is the one who brings up the ball, Iman Shumpert for GT and Turner for OSU. Down low, it will be interesting to see Derrick Favors up against OSU's big man David Lauderdale, who has a 7'4" wingspan despite being only 6'9". The best part about this matchup is that there's Favors and Gani Lawal to meet Turner at the rim. If Turner has a big game, expect his draft stock to, even if momentarily, surpass that of John Wall -- but only if Wall doesn't bust out against Wake Forest.
  • 2:20pm PDT: #1 Duke vs #8 California. Jerome Randle's a little man (5'10") with a big heart. He was named Player of the Year as a reward for leading Cal to the Pac-10 regular season title, and he wound up on NBAdraft.net's board, albeit barely, at #59. He is not on DraftExpress's board. He'll be matched up by height against Duke's Nolan Smith, who is widely regarded as a great college player, though not NBA-caliber. Meanwhile, you have Jon Scheyer, 6'5" point-shooter, who will likely be matched up against Patrick Christopher (6'5"). And 6'9" junior Kyle Singler, who is surprisingly up at #28 on DraftExpress, but not listed on NBAdraft.net, matched up against Theo Robertson (6'6"). Scheyer was ESPN's early-season #1 All-American while helping Duke up the polls. Christopher debuted on the NBAdraft.net board late in the 2nd round, but has slipped off. This is because he has become a bit one-dimensional as a trey-happy shooter. Meanwhile, Robertson is at #52 on NBAdraft.net but not on DraftExpress. Scheyer is not on either board and it's probably because he got his layups blocked multiple times against non-athletic ACC rival Maryland, not too long ago. So it's a bunch of shooters against another bunch of shooters, all late draft picks. Nevertheless, they are still potential NBA Draft picks.

Well, that's it for this weekend, watching the NCAA through NBA eyes.

If you're interested, here's a recap of the first round:

First of all, if I'm a scout for the Warriors, after watching the first two days of the tournament, I still like Derrick Favors, I know that Al-Farouq Aminu will be gone before our 2nd pick of the Draft, and I'm intrigued by Quincy Pondexter.

  • #11 Washington d. #6 Marquette: What a coming out party for Quincy Pondexter, who won the game on a strong penetration drive using his left hand, that probably had NBA scouts nodding in approval. Wait till you see the next matchup against New Mexico (read on). Pondexter outplayed Lazar Hayward. I'm not sure that Hayward belongs on the draft board. He a big body, 3-4 tweener, and is aggressive and solid, but expending one of your two draft picks on someone who isn't terribly mobile or fast? I'm not sure.
  • #9 Wake Forest d. #8 Texas: Al-Farouq Aminu solidified his higher status as an NBA prospect over Damion James. It pretty much played out as expected. The long, rangy, athletic Aminu showed off some raw physical talent, while James struggled a bit, but didn't show us anything new. James is strong, mobile, and can rebound, but he'll definitely have to come off the bench and work his way up on an NBA roster. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley showed some good defense, but didn't have a breakout game. I hope he does not declare for the draft. He's far from ready. Notice how I did not mention 6'10" Dexter Pittman. He spent last year overweight but worked hard during the summer, got in shape, and had high expectations. But he has underperformed. The problem I have is, if it was that easy to lose the weight, it's as easy to regain it. He had a terrible game against Wake Forest and was no factor. He had trouble handling the ball inside. He may have played himself off the draft board.
  • #6 Tennessee d. #11 San Diego State: Wayne Chism played like a poor man's Damion James, who is a poor man's something-or-other (I haven't thought about that too much, so can't offer a comparison right now). The point being, he's still an NBA prospect, but he didn't do anything extraordinary to move his stock up (or down). Meanwhile, I remain intrigued by Kawhi Leonard. He's a muscular physical specimen and likes to grind down low, but because he's a freshman, you'd like to see what he can do next year. Coming out for the draft this year is too premature and he doesn't quite have the numbers that would make an owner think twice before firing the GM that picked him.
  • #8 Gonzaga d. #9 Florida State: I completely missed this game, so cannot offer any new information about Matt Bouldin, Elias Harris, or Florida State's center Solomon Alabi.
  • #10 Georgia Tech d. #7 Oklahoma State: While James Anderson didn't necessarily have a great game in terms of numbers, he did display extraordinary athleticism and hang time. I think his game will translate very well to the NBA. Meanwhile, Iman Shumpert really made some strides as a defender against Anderson, but Shumpert's offense revealed an inability to "will" the ball in. And he still runs around with his head cut off on offense. I'm starting to think that he's better suited to play small forward, even though he's 6'5" and has decent handles. Finally, Derrick Favors lived up to his billing. Gani Lawal was solid.
  • #1 Syracuse d. #16 Vermont: I missed this game, so am not able to offer anything new about Wesley Johnson nor Marqus Blakely.
  • #2 Ohio State d. #15 UC Santa Barbara: Sophomore strong forward Orlando Johnson showed his potential, not backing down from contact down low, while Evan Turner took the night off (figuratively speaking). Thankfully I spent more time watching the other games overlapped with this one.
  • #4 Maryland d. #13 Houston: It was clear that Greivis Vasquez's stock went down after this one. He was continually beaten to the hole by Aubrey Coleman, who isn't even that high on the draft chart. Vasquez has developed a reputation as a gunslinger and unless he breaks out head-to-head against yet another NBA prospect in this tournament, his stock will continue to go downward. His next matchup is against Michigan State, who also has a gunslinger in 6'0" 180 Kalin Lucas. However, I don't think Lucas will get drafted, so I didn't bother to put it up as a matchup to watch.
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