The 2015 NBA Draft is just a couple of months away and for many eligible prospects their dreams will finally be fulfilled. These prospects are either playing in colleges or in leagues overseas. For NBA prospects playing in college, the entire season can help determine whether or not the player will get drafted. However, the NCAA March Madness Tournament can change all of that.
The NCAA Tournament is the college basketball tournament in which 68 teams play to win the national championship. It is one of the famous and biggest annual sporting events in the United States. It’s also called or referred to as “March Madness” because teams are eliminated from the tournament after just one game. “March Madness” has grown tremendously throughout the years and it is watched in many countries. For college NBA prospects, the tournament provides a national platform for them to showcase their abilities to both college and NBA fans. The tournament also can increase or lower the draft potential of a prospect depending on how well they perform.
With so many people watching the tournament including NBA scouts, coaches, general managers and executives the college prospects have a golden opportunity to ensure that they will be drafted in June. Many prospects have played well during the college basketball regular season but there are 10 that have stood out. These 10 NBA prospects featured are mostly talented freshman and a majority of them are from University of Kentucky or Duke University. Listed below are the top 10 NBA prospects in college that fans should watch during “March Madness.”
10. Devin Booker, G – Kentucky Wildcats
The University of Kentucky continues to be a hotbed for future NBA talent. Devin Booker has emerged as one of them. He is a 6-foot-6 freshman guard who is currently averaging 10.9 points per game and is the top scorer on the team even though he comes off the bench. He has been named to the SEC Freshman of the Week honors five times this season. Devin Booker was also recently named as a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale Award. The award is given out to the best college basketball freshman. He is a scorer for the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats (31-0) so expect to see a lot of Devin Booker if Kentucky goes far in the tournament.
9. Frank Kaminsky, F – Wisconsin Badgers
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team had a stellar season last year and Frank Kaminsky was a huge part for the success. He is a 7-foot senior forward who is currently averaging 18.4 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. His junior season was his break through season and he could’ve entered the NBA draft last season but chose not to. Frank Kaminsky has since elevated his level of play and has been named as a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy. He is also been named to the watch list for other top college basketball awards. He has become a college basketball star and is one to watch should Wisconsin advance in the tournament.
8. Kelly Oubre Jr, G – Kansas Jayhawks
Like the University of Kentucky, the University of Kansas is another college where top NBA prospects go to play. Kelly Oubre Jr. is a 6-foot-7 freshman guard who is currently averaging 9.0 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is one of the players that has gotten better as the season has progressed. He was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week twice this season. Kelly Oubre Jr. was also recently named a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale Award. Kelly Oubre Jr. is already on many mock drafts as a top 10 selection however he could go higher if he plays well for the Kansas Jayhawks in the tournament.
7. Myles Turner, C – Texas Longhorns
The University of Texas has had many great NBA prospects who have gone to become NBA players such as Tristan Thompson or Cory Joseph. The latest promising prospect set to make the jump to the NBA is Myles Turner. He is a 6-foot-11 freshman center who is currently averaging 10.8 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. The Texas Longhorns haven’t had a ton of success this season and will most likely be playing for a bid in the tournament. If the Longhorns succeed in securing a spot and advance it will be due to Myles Turner’s performance against elite teams.
6. Justise Winslow, SF – Duke Blue Devils
It’s no surprise that there would be multiple Duke players on this list, as the school constantly recruits top-tier talent. The latest Blue Devil with a promising future is Justise Winslow. He is a 6-foot-6 freshman small forward who is currently averaging 12.4 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. In the last 10 games Justise Winslow has averaged 15.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. He was a part of the gold medal team at the under 18 FIBA Americas Championship in 2014. Like Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr. he was also named a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale award. Fans will get to see a lot of Justise Winlow should Duke go far in the tournament.
5. Willie Cauley- Stein, F – Kentucky Wildcats
The second NBA prospect on this list from the University of Kentucky is Willie Cauley-Stein. He is a 7-foot junior forward who is currently averaging 8.9 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. He is known for being a defensive specialist and has been one of the primary reasons why the Kentucky Wildcats are still undefeated. He is the only player in school history with 200+ blocks and 100 steals. He has had a great career at Kentucky and has impressed many prominent NBA analysts with his defense. If the Kentucky Wildcats win the national championship it will be because of Wille Cauley-Stein’s ability to defend the opposing star players.
4. Stanley Johnson, SF – Arizona Wildcats
The University of Arizona has one of the top 10 NBA prospects in Stanley Johnson. Stanley Johnson is a 6-foot-7 freshman small forward who is currently averaging 13.9 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. He leads the team in scoring and in rebounding. He was the MVP of the gold medal team at the under-18 FIBA Americas Championship team in 2014 averaging 14.0 points and 2.2 steals per game. Stanley Johnson is one of the many college freshmen on this list to be named a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale Award. He is also on the award watch for the Naismith Trophy, the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year and the Wooden award. He has made quite an impact on the top ranked Arizona Wildcats and is one of the prospects fans should watch for in the tournament.
3. D’Angelo Russell, G – Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State University has one of the top-3 NBA prospects in D’Angelo Russell. He is a 6-foot-5 freshman guard who is currently averaging 19.2 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 5.2 assists per game. D’Angelo Russell has been one of the best college freshmen to watch and is the highest scoring one. He has been named to the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors seven times and been the Big 10 Player of the Week twice. He is also one of two freshmen players to be named as a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy. D’Angelo Russell is already making headlines in the NBA after Phil Jackson, the Knicks GM, called Russell a great prospect. His style of play is why NBA fans should keep an eye out for during the tournament as he has the potential to be a NBA star.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, F – Kentucky Wildcats
Of course a list of top prospects would be dominated by an undefeated team. The final Wildcat on our list is Karl-Anthony Towns. Karl-Anthony Towns is a 6-foot-11 freshman forward who is currently averaging 9.7 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. He has been named to the SEC Freshman of the Week honors three times this season. He is on the award watch for the Naismith Trophy and named as a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale Award along with the other NBA prospects.
He has been ranked in many mock drafts as the no.2 draft pick (behind our final entry). He could potentially move up to being the first overall draft pick if he plays well and Kentucky goes far in the tournament. Regardless of whether or not Karl Anthony Towns is the no.1 or no.2 overall draft pick NBA fans should watch him as he could potentially become a great NBA player.
1. Jahlil Okafor, C – Duke Blue Devils
The overall consensus number one draft selection on many mock drafts is Duke University’s Jahlil Okafor. Jahlil Okafor is a 6-foot-11 freshman center who is currently averaging 17.6 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. He has been dominant this season and ranks among the nation’s leaders in a number of categories this season, including field goal percentage (.668-2nd) and offensive rebounds (4 ORPG- 7th), and ranks as the nation’s second-highest scoring freshman.
He is the other college freshman to be named as a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy. Like many of the top 10 NBA prospects he was also named a finalist for the Wayne Tisdale award and is the front runner to win. He is also on the award watch for the Wooden award and the Naismith Trophy. NBA fans who have heard so much about Jahlil Okafor will finally be able to see him play during the tournament and his performance will determine if he indeed does get drafted as the no.1 pick.
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