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March 24, 2008
Game Reax
March Madness Prospect Guide, Week Two

by Bradford Doolittle


Matchups and prospect reports for the week follow. Updated comments are notated with the date. New reports are also noted. As always, if there are other teams or conferences that you follow that have players you feel should be identified as an NBA possibility, drop me a line. My initial pool of prospects was compiled by combining the Top 100 rankings of Web resources that specialize in NBA prospect analysis.

After four days of NCAA tournament drama, the CBI and NIT tournaments are going to seem a little flaccid. But don't overlook these games these next three days if you're really interested in seeing some NBA prospects. The California/Ohio State game tonight features five guys who might attract attention from the league. I'm really looking forward to the Arizona State/Florida matchup on Tuesday, which will feature Gator point guard Nick Calathes and the Sun Devils' James Harden, the two most exciting freshmen outside of the NCAA bracket. Syracuse, who plays UMass on Tuesday, is always interesting to watch if only to see if somebody flips Donte Greene's "On/Off" switch. If all that isn't enough to get you to follow the NIT, consider this: a possible final is Florida versus Ohio State.


Thursday's games

Washington State (26-8) vs. North Carolina (34-2), 7:27 p.m.

Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
Ellington is the perfect spot-up shooter to play alongside a top playmaker in Ty Lawson and interior player in Tyler Hansbrough. He's an efficient shooter but has turned out to be sort of one-dimensional. He doesn't attack the basket nor does he create much offense for his teammates. Defensively, he's just adequate. A little undersized for his position, any hopes of being a designated shooter in the pros will depend on his ability to hit the NBA three-pointer.

Danny Green, North Carolina
Green made a lot of strides as a junior but is still a longshot pro prospect. A swingman at the college level, he won't be able to play forward in the NBA. He's an efficient shooter at Carolina but not particularly adept at getting his own shot or getting to the foul line. Defensively, he has nice steal and block rates and displays good instincts.

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Possibly the most high-profile player in the NCAA, Hansbrough's father went to Mizzou and his failure to follow in dad's footsteps is the stuff of Greek tragedy. Hansbrough finished 14th nationally in Pomeroy's offensive rating, with his best trait being an ability to get to the foul line. Hansbrough plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor and you can't argue with the production he's had playing against pretty good competition. Still, he's not considered an elite prospect because of limited athleticism. So what kind of pro will he make? He always makes me think of Shane Battier. Remember, Battier played on the block as a collegian before becoming a three-point shooting/perimeter defending glue player as a pro. I could see Hansbrough developing a face-up game and following a similar path.

Ty Lawson, North Carolina
If only he were taller...the 5'11" sophomore had some injury woes this season. He was 35th in the NCAA in assist percentage and posted an excellent steal rate. He makes the Carolina engine hum, picking spots to get his own shot and getting to the line when he needs to. Why can't he be another Chris Paul? The answer lies in usage rate and turnover percentage.

Derrick Low, Washington State
During his four years for the Cougars, Low has developed into a terrific outside bomber. But 6'2" guards with that low of an assist rate don't make it in the Association.

Kyle Weaver, Washington State
Weaver is another four-year player for the Cougars. He has a well-rounded floor game and an inconsistent shot. He's long enough to be a factor defensively but needs to get stronger. Should get drafted.

Tennessee (31-4) vs. Louisville (26-8), 9:57 p.m.

Derrick Caracter, Louisville
There's a lot to like in the 6'8" sophomore's game, such as his offensive rebounding and shot blocking. He's very strong but has a lot of rough edges to his game. He LOOKS like an NBA player but, after all, we're not selling jeans here. And Caracter hasn't even emerged as a full-time starter at the college level.

Earl Clark, Louisville
A long, lean swing forward, Clark has tried to improve his perimeter game with mixed results. He's an inefficient shooter and struggles from three-point land but excels at getting to the foul line. He's a solid rebounder and very active defensively. His much ballyhooed passing skills have yet to manifest themselves in the form of assists. He's a work in progress with exceptional upside.

David Padgett, Louisville
Padgett is a former transfer from Kansas who hit the gamewinning shot in the last game at Mizzou's old arena. For that, he probably should be banned from the pro game. Padgett is a skilled and extremely efficient (67.5 eFG%) inside scorer. He's not a great rebounder or defender, however. Padgett is already 23 years old and has struggled through injury woes. He probably doesn't have the range of skills or the athleticism to play at the next level.

Juan Palacios, Louisville
Palacios' playing time and production have slipped in his senior season. A 6'8" banger, he's probably dropped off of any draft lists that he was on.

Terrence Williams, Louisville
Williams is an athletic 6'6" (maybe) swing man with an excellent floor game and a questionable outside shot. He only hit 41.2 percent from the field but shoots so many threes that his eFG% of 48.4 is not quite so unsightly. A fantastic leaper and athlete, Williams will not reach his ceiling unless he become more aggressive at taking the ball to the basket. Fundamentally, he's improved but still has a long way to go, as evidenced by his 56 percent mark from the foul line. Williams would do well to hone his decision making during his senior season next year.

Chris Lofton, Tennessee
A fine shooter and scorer, Lofton's percentages were actually down in his senior season. Not terribly physical and doesn't create opportunities for others. Since he's 6'2", that probably means he won't get drafted. But he could fill a similar role to Louis Williams of the 76ers if his ability to get his shot translates.

Tyler Smith, Tennessee
Smith displays a full package of skills in a prototypical swingman's body, though he could stand to add a few pounds. He's an efficient midrange scorer, gets into the lane and is a good rebounder for his size. A sophomore, he's a tremendous athlete and if he develops his three-point shot, he could be a solid lottery pick. Heck, he may be one anyway….3/24: Seems to have a little bit of megalomania working. Needs to make better decisions, especially at crucial points of the game.

JaJuan Smith, Tennessee
ADDED 3/22: Tennessee fans felt I was giving short shrift to Tennessee on the prospect front. As good as they are, they're probably right. Smith, a 6'2" senior off-guard, is primarily a perimeter player without the size or playmaking skills I like to see in NBA guard prospects.

Wayne Chism, Tennessee
ADDED 3/22: The 6'9" sophomore banger, Chism has a nice build, is a solid interior defender and shot-blocker, and displays an ability to step outside and take the jump shot. He's inefficient as a scorer and shooter and probably not big enough to get by on defense alone at the next level.

Note: Washington State/North Carolina winner will play Tennessee/Louisville winner in East Regional final on Saturday

West Virginia (26-10) vs. Xavier (29-6), 7:10 p.m.

Joe Alexander, West Virginia
Became much less of a perimeter player under Bob Huggins. Alexander has solid, if not spectacular, all-around indicators. His NBA-build and athleticism should get him picked in the first round....3/24: Alexander's stock is rising with each round West Virginia advances. He's really shown surprising playmaking skills and a high degree of competitiveness so far in the tournament. A player with his size and skill set is going to get a long look from NBA teams.

UCLA (33-3) vs. Western Kentucky (29-6), 9:40 p.m.

Darren Collison, UCLA
Tremendous defender and outside shooter, Collison still needs to improve his playmaking abilities to become the dynamic point guard he has the potential to be as a pro.

Kevin Love, UCLA
One of the premier freshman and overall rebounders in the land. Love has a full range of skills and a body mature beyond its years. Projects as a late lottery pick, he'll be a steal if he really drops that low in the draft….3/24: Love's 19 points, 11 boards and eight blocks against Texas A&M in a game where only 100 points were scored was awfully impressive. He made lottery-bound DeAndre Jordan look helpless at times when they went head-to-head.

Luc-Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
Still far more potential than production, he has tremendous upside, particularly as a Tayshaun Prince-type defender.

Josh Shipp, UCLA
Became more of a three-pointer shooter this season but is still better from the midrange. Shipp is highly regarded but really doesn't standout amongst his talented teammates.

Russell Westbrook, UCLA
Emerged as the Bruins' best playmaker and overall best prospect. Westbrook needs to improve his shooting but can take it to the hoop with the best of them and like most of his UCLA teammates, he's an excellent defensive player.

Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky
A 6'5" shooting guard, Lee is a long-range gunner with no conscience on offense. Rest of his game and physical attributes are pedestrian but his shooting ability could get him a pro opportunity....3/22: Hill scored 15 points in the game and disappeared during Drake's late-game run. He seemed pretty passive, though you don't want to draw too much from one game when it comes to intangible qualities....3/24: Hill bounced back with a 29-point performance against San Diego, propelling the Hilltoppers into the Sweet 16. He only needed 15 shots to compile those points. There are two mid-major guards who have helped their teams go this far that also finished in the top 10 of Pomeroy's offensive rating. Hill is one, Stephen Curry is the other. Hill now faces the stifling defense of UCLA with a golden opportunity to put himself on the map in a big way.

Note: West Virginia/Xavier winner will play UCLA/Western Kentucky winner in West Regional final on Saturday

Friday's games

Texas (30-6) vs. Stanford (28-7), 7:27 p.m.

Brook Lopez, Stanford
Lopez's usage went up and his efficiency went down as a sophomore but the seven-footer still projects as a top-five pick….3/24: The competitiveness Lopez displayed in scoring 30 points and hitting the game-winning shot of Stanford's OT comeback win over Marquette will only heighten the already-glowing reviews of his potential as a pro.

Robin Lopez, Stanford
Robin is the Jarron Collins to brother Brooks' Jason Collins in the Stanford twin big man canon. He's not ranked as high as his brother but has a similar skill set and is actually a little bit better shot blocker.

DJ Augustin, Texas
A 6'0" pure point guard, Augustin is a dynamic ballhandler and distributor. He's also better shooter than he's often given credit for and draws a lot of fouls by getting into the lane. Athletically, he's not really a standout, which could undermine his chances to translate his considerable skills to the next level.

Damion James, Texas
James ventured out to the perimeter more often as a sophomore but needs to get better in that regard to play in the NBA as he's only 6'7" He also happens to be one of the nation's best rebounders, especially among players his size. If he makes it as a pro, it'll be because of his defense….3/24: A reader felt that I was selling James' offensive game short. After watching him during the second round, I'm not sure my opinion has changed much. His shooting still needs a lot of work. However, it should be noted that he upped his three-pointers made total from 1 to 34 from this freshman to his sophomore year. If he can continue to develop that shot, he can play his way into the middle of the first round in the 2009 draft.

Memphis (35-1) vs. Michigan State (27-8), 9:57 p.m.

Joey Dorsey, Memphis
Dorsey, a senior, is a burly, defensively-oriented big guy who is efficient at converting the opportunities others create for him. He's one of the best percentage rebounders in the college game. Can't shoot, especially from the line, but he'll have a pro career.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
A nice spot-up shooter in the midrange to play off of Derrick Rose, Douglas-Roberts may lack the athleticism and strength to get his own shot at the pro level. He doesn't shoot a lot of threes and his eFG% is over 60.

Robert Dozier, Memphis
Dozier is a long, lean forward with not much of an offensive game but defensive skills good enough to land him a bench role at the next level.

Derrick Rose, Memphis
The nation's best point guard prospect, some think the 6'3" freshman could go first in the coming draft. He's an athletic marvel, with topflight leaping ability and quickness. Turnover rate was a little high and his numbers don't exactly leap off the page, most likely due to the balance of the talented team on which he plays. The bottom line is that as a freshman, he nearly led his team to an undefeated season.

Shawn Taggart, Memphis
Memphis followers insisted Taggart be added. The raw 6'10" , 22-year-old sophomore is banger of the bench for the nation's No. 1 team.

Raymar Morgan, Michigan State
A solid swingman type whose progression as a sophomore has been somewhat marred by a late-season fade. He takes the ball to the hoop with abandon but needs to improve his outside shot. If he shows the ability to guard NBA perimeter players, he could stick.

Drew Neitzel, Michigan State
Neitzel is a premier outside gunner but lacks the size or athleticism to get enough shots or to defend adequately in the NBA.

Note: Texas/Stanford winner will play Memphis/Michigan State winner in South Regional final on Sunday

Davidson (28-6) vs. Wisconsin (31-4), 7:10 p.m.

Stephen Curry, Davidson
The son of former NBA designated shooter Dell Curry, Stephen is one of the nation's most exciting players and prolific scorers. Despite posting the 18th-highest usage rate in the land, his eFG% this season was 60.9. That's a lethal combination. Of course, he did it against less than top-notch competition and is only 6'2" -- not the kind of shooting guard you want to construct your NBA roster around. His shooting ability should land him a role at the next level. He could be used in a role similar to the way Philadelphia uses Louis Williams. Or if his abilities really translate to the pros, he could have a larger role playing alongside a bigger point guard, in the same way Golden State pairs Baron Davis with Monta Ellis....3/22: A dynamic scorer. Lit up Gonzaga for 30 second-half points and 40 overall in Davidson's first-round win. Has what coaches always call the "it" factor….3/24: After torching Georgetown for 30 points, 25 in the second half, and lifting Davidson into the Sweet 16, Curry is the talk of the tournament. Can he play in the NBA? I say yes. And if he can play the point, which he may have a chance to do next season after assist-man-deluxe Jason Richards graduates, he may even start. His quick release will help his scoring to translate and his passing skills are a lot better than I realized.

Kansas (33-3) vs. Villanova (22-12), 9:40 p.m.

Darrell Arthur, Kansas
Arthur is a probable lottery pick if he comes out. He's got NBA size for a power forward at 6'9" and the frame to add to his 230 pounds. Has a nice midrange game but needs to learn how to improve his ability to drive to the hoop and get fouls.

Mario Chalmers, Kansas
Chalmers is one of the most skilled two-way point guards in the NCAA. He can flat stroke it from the outside and is a ballhawk on defense. He needs to cut back on turnovers and exhibit more lead-guard traits to make an impact in the NBA.

Sherron Collins, Kansas
Collins is a lightning-fast bowling ball as a 5'11", 200 pound point guard. He commits too many turnovers and lacks range on his outside shot. A former prep standout, Collins needs to hang around Lawrence until Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson depart, leaving him with his first chance to run the show full time.

Darnell Jackson, Kansas
Hard-working, high-character type whose size slots him as an NBA tweener and whose lack of athleticism will limit his ability to translate his skills to the pros. As a Jayhawk, the 6'8" senior has emerged as one of the NCAA's most efficient players.

Sasha Kaun, Kansas
A fringe, Brad Lohaus-type prospect at best, if he pulls an outside shot out of his hat. Could join the likes of former KU players Raef Lafrentz and Scot Pollard on NBA benches but don't count on it.

Brandon Rush, Kansas
Rush could still emerge as the best pro among the deep group of current Jayhawks. He's a gifted athlete and excellent defender. He needs to get far more aggressive, both in terms of being more selfish with his own shot and in taking the ball to the rim. His passivity is his biggest negative.

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Reynolds in an undersized combo guard, a description he shares with backcourt mate Corey Fisher. Reynolds is more of a scorer than a shooter. He's not a great athlete, either. Doesn't really add up to an NBA resume....3/24: Reynolds was special in helping the Wildcats into the Sweet 16, particularly against Siena in the second round. If he can duplicate that performance against Mario Chalmers and his Jayhawk cohorts...well, let's see what happens first.

Note: Davidson/Wisconsin winner will play Kansas/Villanova winner in Midwest Regional final on Sunday.


Monday's games

California (17-15) at Ohio State (20-13), 7 p.m.

Ryan Anderson, California
Anderson is an excellent inside/outside big man whose NBA upside is as a Clifford Robinson/Keith Van Horn type, when those players were reserves.

DeVon Hardin, California
Has the prototypical body for an NBA power forward, Hardin could stick as a rebounder/defender off the bench.

Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
Koufos, a 7'0" freshman, is the best prospect in action tonight, a first-rounder should he decide to come out. He's a nice face-up shooter and shot blocker but probably needs to get more physical....3/19: Koufos looks a little uncomfortable with his midrange game, something that I'd anticipated would be a strong point. In the paint, Koufos has a nice jump hook. I'd have to see more, but as nice as Koufos looks, he could use another year with the Buckeyes. Ohio State apparently has a stud seven-footer coming in next season who will allow Koufos to develop his game on the perimeter.

Evan Turner, Ohio State
Turner is a 6'6" freshman who needs more seasoning and bulk. Unless he improves his range and cuts way down on turnovers, he's unlikely to be more than a late second-round pick....3/19: Turner is pretty much a sideman to the Jamar Butler show. Turner seems to have exceptional quickness, especially on defense, but it's was hard to get a real good read on any of the Buckeye defenders because Thad Motta has them packed into a zone most of the time. I'll be eager to see Turner's game blossom next season after Butler graduates.

Jamar Butler, Ohio State
The 6'1" senior point guard stepped aside for Mike Conley's year as a Buckeye but re-asserted himself this season. Not really an NBA prospect.

Dayton (22-10) at Illinois State (25-9), 7 p.m.

No prospects

Note: California/Ohio State winner will play Dayton/Illinois State winner in quarterfinals on a yet-to-be-determined day from Tuesday through Thursday

UAB (23-10) at Virginia Tech (20-13), 9 p.m.

Robert Vaden, UAB
Vaden followed Blazer coach Mike Davis from UAB, explaining why he is a 23-year-old junior in a suitably mature body. He's a 6'5" swingman who can light it up from the outside at times. But he's limited athletically, which would hinder his ability to get quality shots as a pro...3/20: Mostly what I wrote about Vaden holds true. I am impressed by his ability to create offense for himself. I'd liken him to a European-style player in that he uses his perimeter threat to penetrate inside the arc and create three-point opps for his teammates. He has impressive strength but isn't very quick. Tries to be a little too nifty with his passes at times and, thus, is generally careless with the ball. His overall turnover rate isn't bad, though, so it might have just been the game I watched.....3/24: After wracking my brain for several days trying to think of who Vaden reminded me of, I finally figured it out--former Iowa player Kevin Gamble. Same build, same style of game.

Nebraska (20-12) at Mississippi (22-10), 9 p.m.

Aleks Maric, Nebraska
Maric emerged as one of the Big 12's best rebounders. A senior, Maric (6'11", 270 lb.) certainly has the size of an NBA big man but is painfully slow and doesn't have much of a game away from the basket. His prospects may depend on how strongly personnel staffs view his fine productivity.

Note: UAB/Virginia Tech winner will play Nebraska/Mississippi winner in quarterfinals on a yet-to-be-determined day from Tuesday through Thursday

Tuesday's games

Massachusetts (23-10) at Syracuse (21-13), 7 p.m.

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Another freshman, Flynn is strictly a lead-guard type who currently has decent, if not spectacular, playmaking skills. Defensive indicators are shaky and he's short.

Donte Greene, Syracuse
As a freshman small forward with excellent length (he's 6'10"), Green would probably go in the middle of the first round if he comes out this year. But he's too prone to hanging around the perimeter and firing threes at this point....3/19: Long, lean Syracuse freshman Donte Greene scored a career-high 27 points for the Orangemen but he looks like he has a lot of growing up to do. Greene, who went to the same high school as Carmelo Anthony, has the same tendency to bide his time floating around the three-point line. He's got a nice stroke, an easy release from well beyond the arc and, at 6'10", can get that shot whenever he wants. But his speed and ability to handle the ball, on display on breakouts, is rarely put to use. He also seemed pretty disinterested on defense. It sounds like he is a candidate to come out this season. He'll be a project but with his raw skills, he'll go pretty high, possibly in the lottery. But he would be best served by another year under Jim Boeheim.

Paul Harris, Syracuse
Harris is a fringe prospect on most lists, with an interior player's skills wrapped up in an unfortunate 6'5" frame....3/19: My thoughts yesterday on Paul Harris were pretty much right on. He's a nice college interior player but doesn't have the size to play there in the NBA nor the perimeter skills to move to another position at that level.

Gary Forbes, Massachusetts
A swingman player who would be an averaged-sized NBA small forward, Forbes is a scorer whose low percentage on threes doesn't stop him from hoisting them up.

Florida (23-11) at Arizona State (21-12), 9 p.m.<

Nick Calathes, Florida
Led the Gators in scoring and the SEC in assists as a freshman. Calathes has a polished all-around game with triple-double potential and a high steal rate on defense. His height (6'5") is great for a lead guard but he needs to fill out. His brother plays at St. Joseph...3/22: Triple-double potential fulfilled. Calathes had 11 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and 5 steals in a win over Creighton in the second-round of the NIT.

James Harden, Arizona State
Judging by his pre-college reports, Harden may have slightly underachieved this season. He's got terrific shooting percentages, especially for a freshman, good size for an NBA shooting guard and gets to the line. Needs another year but could be a first rounder if he comes out....3/19: Arizona State's James Harden has been the most impressive player I've seen in the NIT. The freshman lefty out of LA is a thick 6'5" and displays excellent quickness, strength and athleticism. He has a nice stroke from downtown, as was indicated by his eFG% of 59.3 and his TP% of 42.2 through the conference tournaments. But he's also adept at putting the ball on the floor and making plays in the lane, as evidenced by his FT rate of 62.1, 93rd in the country. He led the Pac 10 in steals and is very active on both ends of the floor, always moving, always disrupting. He looks like a complete package to me. The prospect lists slot him as high as a mid-first rounder but most have him in the second round. I'd argue for the more optimistic of those projections.


Monday's games

Valparaiso (22-13) at Houston (23-9), 9 p.m.

Rob McKiver, Houston
You gotta love senior guards in March. Well, maybe not so much in the CBI. McKiver has a shooting guard's game in a (skinny) point guard's body.

Old Dominion (18-15) at Virginia (16-15), 7 p.m.

Sean Singletary, Virginia
A small, quick senior point guard, Singletary is 30th in usage rate and 22nd in assist rate. In other words, he really dominates the ball. Upside is a Nate Robinson-type backup with better passing skills.

Note: Valparaiso/Houston winner will play Old Dominion/Virginia winner in semifinals on Wednesday

Utah (18-14) at Tulsa (21-13), 9 p.m.

Jerome Jordan, Tulsa
Seven foot and athletic, the mostly unknown Jordan is a player to watch. He's very raw but is one of the nation's premier shot blockers.

Ohio (20-12) at Bradley (18-15), 8 p.m.

Daniel Ruffin, Bradley
Tiny, tiny, tiny (5'10", 160), Ruffin is one of the best passers on the college level. His brother is former Indiana player A.J. Guyton. Ruffin is a longshot, at best.

Note: Utah/Tulsa winner will play Ohio/Bradley winner in semifinals on Wednesday

Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.

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