March is a time of great opportunity for College Basketball’s best and brightest stars. For four weeks, the sports world shifts its focus onto the famous NCAA tournament and that stage provides the opportunity for players to show NBA teams what they are all about. Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker and many, many more have put on a show night after night in the tournament and were rewarded come draft night. Here are seven players who either need a great March to shift the narrative on their value or, are being provided with their greatest moment in the spot light.
Weight: 180 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 23 (2017)
Stats: 28.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 9.1 apg, 43 fg% and 37.5 3fg%
After being crowned the de facto national player of the year by ESPN and Social Media in November and December, Trae Young has cooled off. Although Young continues to lead the country in both scoring and assists, his efficiency has completely tailed off in the New Year. The concerns at the next level for Young are largely out of his control with size and athleticism much like his main comparison, Stephen Curry, coming into constant question. If Young wants to hold onto a top ten position in this year’s draft which is weak at guard, he must find a way to cut down on turnovers, shoot with more consistency and continue to get his teammates involved. Young is dazzling to watch and if he can find a way to bring back his early season magic, a long run into March could carry him to the top five of the draft.
Weight: 234 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 1 (2017)
Stats: 20.7 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 60.3 fg% and 35.4 3fg%
After reclassifying from the class of 2018 to 2017, Marvin Bagley III committed to Duke and headed to Durham. Since arriving on campus, Bagley has been largely as advertised but, questions still remain. Although Bagley has put up massive numbers, how they contribute to winning have come into question. The criticism is largely based on his tendency to stop the ball, scoring a high majority of his points on isos. NBA people have begun to ask whether the numbers he puts up from these isos are from sheer athletic dominance, something he won’t have at his disposal in the NBA or, superior skill. Other points of weakness are his poor to terrible defence and, the confusion on what position he fits into at the next level. Bagley is supremely talented and no one is denying that but, a long run in March would do a lot to quiet his critics and get him back into the discussion for the first overall pick.
Weight: 215 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 10 (2017)
Stats: 15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 app, 45.2 fg% and 35.3 3fg%
Kevin Knox has an NBA body, NBA athleticism and, an NBA skill set but, the one thing he’s missing is NBA consistency. Young players are expected to go through ups and downs in seasons but Knox’s ups and downs have been very emblematic of his Wildcats season. He put up 34 points at West Virginia but also has had games of 5 and 6 points in SEC play. Knox has the talent to score at the next level there is no question of that but, the question is will it be by him creating his own shot or, by others creating for him. This season he has shown great promise off the ball, in transition and especially off screens, largely playing off of teammates and the lanes they create. If Knox wants secure a top ten spot, he has to show he has the ability to create his own shot at this level in the half court. A long run for his Wildcats with him displaying all the skills we believe he has could very easily lead to a much better draft day for Kevin Knox.
Weight: 186 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 6 (2017)
Stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 43.0 fg% and 27.4 3fg%
Trevon Duval is a supremely gifted athlete with great size but, he can’t shoot. He has all the intangibles for success at the next level, with a great basketball IQ and makes consistent impressive anticipatory plays on defence. The problem is as great as all those things are, his inability to make a jump shot with any type of regularity is really hurting his draft stock. Once considered the number one point guard in the country, many wonder if Duval should even come out after this season or instead take a summer to refine the mechanics of his jump shot. Duval is in a similar position to former Duke guard Tyus Jones in 2015 who heading into the tournament, many questioned if he was a one and done but after a final four most outstanding player and a national title, Jones was a first round pick. Duval should still be a first round pick but, a run in March could drastically alter where in the round he lands or even if he comes out at all.
Weight: 190 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 7 (2017)
Stats: 18.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 43.8 fg% and 31.7 3fg%
Collin Sexton has all the skills to be a successful guard in the NBA in 2018. He possesses a superior first step, the ability to finish with both hands, great overall athleticism and great competitiveness on the defensive end. The areas of concern for Sexton though are his passing ability and his streaky shooting. In terms of passing, he is inconsistent at best at finding teammates but, with his ability to blow past defenders it shouldn’t be too much of an issue at the next level if he puts the necessary work in. Though he will likely never be near 10 assists, it isn’t unreasonable to expect between 6 and 7 per game with him running the offence. Sexton’s real major concern is his streaky shooting. Some nights, he can’t miss where as others he can’t make anything. Consistency should come especially based on his age but, a run in the tournament with him carrying the load for his team where he finds his stroke could shift the narrative from bigs and wings in this draft to the talented guard.
Weight: 190 lbs
ESPN 300 Ranking: 80 (2014)
Stats: 19.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 48.3 fg% and 36.4 3fg%
As the calendar turns to March for Chandler Hutchison and the Boise State Broncos, their season likely rides on the Mountain West Conference tournament. For Hutchison, a dynamic wing scorer with solid athletic ability and defensive upside at the next level, the conference tournament certainly won’t be the end of his basketball career but, if the senior wants to continue his career in Boise, it is likely championship or bust. The Broncos sit as a low end bubble team for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament right now but, a conference title automatically gets them in and, gives Hutchison an opportunity to perform on college basketball’s biggest stage. As a relative unknown to main stream basketball fans right now, a run in March could make the difference from a late first round pick to a potential lottery spot for Hutchison. He has all the tools to make it happen, the stage is set, game on.
Weight: 191 lbs
Class: Junior (RS)
ESPN 300 Ranking: 82 (2014)
Stats: 17.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 50.7 fg% and 41.9 3fg%
Mikal Bridges is what you would call a late bloomer. After arriving on campus at Villanova, head coach Jay Wright decided it would be in Bridge’s best interest to red shirt for his first season on campus. Now, in his third season of playing at ‘Nova’, Bridges has exploded. The tall wing has great size and athleticism but the difference between him and many other great wing defenders to come out in years past is Bridges can shoot. In fact, he can really shoot, currently connecting on over 40% of shots from behind the arc. He is the perfect “3 and D” fit in today’s NBA playing similar to another late bloomer who recently got paid, Robert Covington of the 76ers. If Villanova can go on a run like they clearly have the ability to do, it could give a player like the Bridges the stage and opportunity to show NBA scouts how far he has come and, what he offers for the future.