While the NCAA tournament is hardly the end-all for scouting college players, it does serve an important purpose. For one, it is often the last chance NBA teams have to watch college players in live competition, which can create a lasting impression. It also creates some unique matchups on neutral courts in high-stakes, pressure-packed situations that take players out of their normal routines and comfort zones.
Miles Bridges has boosted Michigan State’s NCAA tournament hopes. A month ago, Michigan State was 4-4 in the Big Ten, 12-9 overall, and on the verge of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years.
Lonzo Ball is one of the top players in this draft class. The homestretch of the college basketball season is upon us with the NCAA tournament tipping off in mid-March. Once the trade deadline passes Feb. 23, decision-makers from all 30 teams will finally be able to shift their full attention to the 2017 NBA draft, which is generating quite a bit of excitement from scouts and talent evaluators.
1. Boston (from Brooklyn): PG Markelle Fultz Freshman Age: 18 Ht./Wt.: 6-4/195 Washington The Celtics cash in once again with a top-three pick and land the player most teams consider to be the most talented prospect in the draft. Fultz will have the luxury of being able to ease his way into the NBA alongside some talented guards.
Although not yet old enough to be draft-eligible until 2018, NBA personnel have been making the trek to Madrid to watch one of the biggest phenoms to emerge in European basketball in quite some time. Doncic showed how far ahead of his age group he is this week by scoring 17 points in 19 minutes on just six field-goal attempts in a Euroleague win against Milan. Eyebrows were raised when Real Madrid paid a significant buyout in 2012 to secure the rights of the then-12-year-old Doncic from his Slovenian team, but it apparently knew what it was doing.
With more than half the college season over, DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony examines some notable 2017 NBA draft prospects. Coming off an exhilarating 96-85 road win over then-No. 3 UCLA on Saturday, it’s a good time to recognize the outstanding freshman season by the Finnish power forward, who posted an efficient 18 points on 10 shots and seven rebounds against the Bruins. Markkanen already ranks fourth all time in 3-pointers made by a collegiate 7-footer in a single season with 48 and is likely to set the record in the next few weeks.
The Vertical’s Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress looks at five prospects whose profiles are rising among scouts. Lonzo Ball-mania has engulfed college basketball the past few weeks, making UCLA must-watch TV for draftniks and traditional NCAA fans. UCLA is off to a great start and is the first team to beat Kentucky in a non-conference game at Rupp Arena in more than four years.