The last few seasons during Tournament time in March we have seen some spectacular performances by several players. In all actuality at the end of every season there is more than a handful of college players who standout like men among boys during the NCAA Tournament and make NBA scouts drool over potential.
Some names who come to mind in recent memory could be a guy like Kenneth Faried in the 2011 tourney playing for the thirteenth seeded Morehead State Eagles and upsetting #4 Louisville. Faried dominated the game, not so much offensively behind just 12 points, but everywhere else with 17 rebounds, 2 steals, one block, and just 2 turnovers. That would be the only win for the Eagles in the 2011 tournament but it definitely showcased Faried to NBA scouts who didn’t quite know his talents. Another name that comes to mind, that would have lived on in College Basketball history if only he hit the half-court shot to beat Duke in the 2010 National Championship game, is Gordon Hayward who played for the then 5th seeded Butler Bulldogs during their historic run in 2010. The Bulldogs came up short in the Tournament Final 61-59 to the Blue Devils but prior to, they did win five big games against big time coaches and programs including knocking off the one seed in their region in Syracuse and then in the Final Four they beat another Hall of Fame coach in Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Hayward, who was just a Sophomore, was instrumental in every game during Butlers 2010 run averaging over 15.5 points, 7 rebounds, one assist, and one steal per game on his way to an eventual All-Tournament Team selection.
Both Kenneth Faried and Gordon Hayward experienced success in their NCAA Tournament games as well as success during their college careers. Faried and Hayward share another rare achievement following their play in March they were both drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft.
So with the 2013 Final Four almost here, let the debate begin of who has helped or hurt their draft stock. This time around there is no shortage of standouts with NBA talent playing in March. Below is a list of four players who have done nothing but help their shot at playing in the NBA after playing great in the 2013 tournament. The list in in no particular order.
Trey Burke PG Sophomore Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines finished the regular season with 26 wins overall making it the most for Michigan since 1992-93. Thanks in large part to the consensus All-American point guard Trey Burke averaging just under 19 point, seven assists, and 3 rebounds a game. For Burke, the regular season statistics alone would have sealed his first round fate, but now after a stellar tournament so far, he may end up being more than just the first point guard taken in June, he could land in the top five. The Ohio native is averaging over 15.5 points and 8 assists thus far and put on perhaps one of the most memorable late game performances on his own to take down the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks 87-85 to go to the elite eight. Michigan was down 14 points with under 7 minutes left, then Trey Burke started dominating scoring 23 second-half points and forced overtime with a NBA length three-pointer with 5 seconds to go.
Michael Carter-Williams G Sophomore Syracuse Orange
Carter-Williams is a 6’6” point guard who is a match-up nightmare at the next once he polishes his skills all-around. During the season there were times you could see that the moment was a little too big for Carter-Williams, like during the Oranges final stretch of the regular season losing 4 of their last 5. Yet, then you see his athleticism and tenacious defensive ability on display during their run to the Final Four this season and you think “Wow, this kid is gonna be a star”. During Cuse’s current run, Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 13 points, 4.75 assists, 5.75 rebounds, and just over two turnovers a game. His defense in the 2-3 zone because of his length has also been key to Syracuse’s success. If Michael Carter-Williams decides to go pro he should be a first round lock now after his play in the tourney.
Gorgui Dieng C Junior Louisville Cardinals
Dieng was influential in the Cardinals not only receiving the number overall seed in this seasons NCAA tournament, but he also has been key in Louisville’s current 13 game winning that started in early February. Louisville won the Big East Tournament leading into the big tourney with Dieng averaging just under a double-double. In three convincing wins, the 6’11” center from Senegal is averaging 10 points, over 6 rebounds, 2 block, and over 1 steal a game. His surge in the tourney on defense and the low-post offensive efficiency he has showed should give him a shot at being selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
Vander Blue G Junior Marquette Golden Eagles
The Golden Eagles lost in demoralizing fashion to Syracuse in the Elite Eight 55-39. The Orange defense was just too much after Blue and Marquette won three games against teams who didn’t play the type of defense that gives them fits offensively. For Vander Blue though, his clutch play, grit, and determination was showcased throughout. Blue averaged over 18 points, 3 rebounds, and just under 2 steals in four games and showed his clutch ability to score when the game is on the line with his game-winning lay-up to beat Davidson in the first round, as well as hitting a big three-pointer to tie the game against Butler with under a minute and a half to go. Blue overall on offense and defense throughout the season showed he is a sound player and should be drafted in June after a productive March.