NBA Prospects To Watch During NCAA March Madness Tournament

March Madness is amazing; it provides everyone, even the casual viewer, with a look at some of the NBA’s next best stars! There are plenty of players that you could point to that have stepped up on the national stage and made themselves a household name, seemingly overnight, from this tournament: Steph Curry, C.J. McCollum, Gordon Hayward, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and many others.

That leads us to the ultimate question, which is, “What player(s) in the NCAA Tournament should we be keeping our eyes on?” I will look at a few players from both larger and smaller schools, some of whom you may know, while others, you may not! Check out my list below of some NBA prospects to watch during March Madness!

NBA Prospects To Watch

Chet Holmgren

What He Does Well: Holmgren’s unicorn-style of play is what has made him a consensus top-three pick.

What Scouts Want To See: During this tournament, scouts will get to see more of Holmgren against the premier, top-notch competition. He needs to make better reads in the open floor and not force passes that are not there.

Jabari Smith

What He Does Well: As it stands today, Smith is one of the best shooters in college basketball and stands at 6-foot-10. With his size, he doesn’t have to worry about getting his shot blocked and even has a rare ability to hit shots with a hand in his face.

What Scouts Want To See: Smith needs to improve his decision-making on the offensive end: knowing when to make certain passes and not force looks that are not in rhythm.

Jaden Ivey

What He Does Well: Ivey’s explosiveness rivals players like Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant. He’s difficult to defend because he can also knock down shots from the perimeter, so he already projects as a primary, three-level scorer in the NBA.

What Scouts Want To See: The main knock on Jaden Ivey is decision-making and basketball IQ. Scouts will want to see him perform at a high level during the tournament and make sound decisions with the ball, especially in crunch time.

Paolo Banchero

What He Does Well: Paolo Banchero was born to score in basketball, and at 6-foot-10, he could become an NBA team’s main source of offense.

What Scouts Want To See: Banchero has struggled at times on the defensive end this season, and if he can turn it on when it matters in these games, that would alleviate concerns.

Keegan Murray

What He Does Well: Like Banchero, Keegan Murray is an absurdly gifted scorer who has every intangible that an NBA team looks for.

What Scouts Want To See: Scouts will want to see Murray take this team deep and create for others off the dribble. His scoring upside is clear, but his playmaking for others is in question.

AJ Griffin

What He Does Well: Griffin’s efficiency is superb for a perimeter player. He has playmaking upside, and his strength and finesse allow him to convert at the rim when guys run him off the line.

What Scouts Want To See: Defensive consistency on the ball can be a concern, and this tournament is a phenomenal opportunity for him to prove he is improving on that end of the floor.

Johnny Davis

What He Does Well: Davis is arguably the best “tough shot-maker” in this draft, and while questions about his range and three-point shooting have come up, his pure-scoring ability overrides it all.

What Scouts Want To See: If Davis can improve from deep, then he has primary scoring potential in the future at the next level.

TyTy Washington

What He Does Well: Washington is crafty, shifty, has a solid floater, and will fill an NBA team’s need at point guard well due to his high basketball IQ.

What Scouts Want To See: Washington hardly gets to the line or finish through contact at the rim and lacks vertical athleticism for a slightly undersized guard.

Benn Mathurin

What He Does Well: Benn has terrific shooting mechanics, a knack for scoring, and freak athleticism for his size.

What Scouts Want To See: For Benn to become a true playmaker at the NBA level, he will need to continue improving his ball-handling and bag/craft around the rim.

Jalen Duren

What He Does Well: Duren is an explosive athlete with incredible physical gifts, and his size and wingspan make him a lock to be a starting NBA center in the future. Additionally, he projects as a superb shot-blocker.

What Scouts Want To See: Duren is a one-dimensional offensive player, and the way the NBA is trending, bigs without multiple skills will eventually become obsolete. If he can develop some semblance of a post game, that will help him stick.

Tari Eason

What He Does Well: Eason’s a versatile scorer on the offensive end, especially for his size. His strength is impressive and should be something he can continue to build over time.

What Scouts Want To See: There are two main knocks on Eason: perimeter shooting and consistent defense. If Eason can knock down some shots and really lockdown during the tourney, his draft stock will rise even higher than it already has.

Mark Williams

What He Does Well: Williams is an explosive athlete and finisher and might be one of the best rim protectors in this draft. Additionally, Williams can finish with both hands fairly well and is fast, especially as a straight-line rim runner.

What Scouts Want To See: Williams is fairly limited offensively outside of the paint at the end of the day. If he can expand his game, he becomes a surefire NBA player.

Late First and Second Rounders

EJ Liddell

What He Does Well: Liddell’s game is polished; he knows exactly who he is as a player, and scouts have very few questions about his overall game. His upside is limited due to size and athleticism, but he’s a solid scorer and has improved his three-point shooting drastically.

What Scouts Want To See: As an undersized four, Liddell will need to continue to improve upon the intangibles (think Draymond Green.) If Liddell continues to learn and improve, he could fill a role like that at the next level.

JD Davison

What He Does Well: Davison is a once-in-a-forever athlete who sometimes shows a Russell Westbrook ceiling.

What Scouts Want To See: There has been a serious consistency issue with Davison, and his defense, three-point shooting, and decision-making will have to improve drastically.

Zach Edey

What He Does Well: Edey is a superb prospect that I don’t think gets enough credit for his age and size. He’s powerful, fairly coordinated, and has great skills around the basket, and his offensive efficiency and upside on that end make him worth drafting.

What Scouts Want To See: Edey’s next step is to continue working on foot speed and lateral quickness on the defensive end. He has to become a player who can be passable on defense to get consistent NBA minutes.

Jamaree Bouyea

What He Does Well: Bouyea is a talented shot-maker and creator with a high defensive upside.

What Scouts Want To See: Scouts want to see more consistency from Bouyea as he can disappear completely against elite competition.

Kofi Cockburn

What He Does Well: Kofi Cockburn is an unguardable physical specimen and projects to be a big who can come off the bench in the NBA and provide quality minutes to a starting center with a more expansive offensive game. Cockburn projects as an Andre Drummond type with potentially a bit more upside.

What Scouts Want To See: Referees in the NBA should reward Cockburn a bit more as he is objectively officiated differently than other players. He will become even more accustomed with the charity stripe, so improving his free throw shooting will be huge.

Trayce Jackson-Davis

What He Does Well: Jackson-Davis is insanely athletic for his size at 6-foot-9 and projects as a terrific rim protector at the next level. His post game is already excellent, and his combination of face-up attacks, spin moves, and baby hooks gives him an established arsenal already.

What Scouts Want To See: There is absolutely no doubt that the one thing holding Trayce back is his shooting. Scouts will want to see an improved jump shot, at least ranging out to 15-18 feet.

Hunter Dickinson

What He Does Well: Dickinson has a huge body, solid footwork, incredible strength, and a solid post game.

What Scouts Want To See: It’s clear that scouts want to see Dickinson improving his foot speed defensively, P&R defense, and his jump shot.

Johnny Juzang

What He Does Well: Juzang has a silky smooth jumper with terrific scoring instinct.

What Scouts Want To See: To become a consistent scorer at the next level, Juzang will need to improve his ability to get separation on defenders in 1v1 scenarios.

David Roddy

What He Does Well: Roddy is a crafty scorer at all levels and, due to his large frame, can bully opposing defenders on the interior to create space.

What Scouts Want To See: If Roddy becomes a strong enough ball-handler to become a perimeter threat, or at least a get-it-and-go threat off of a defensive rebound, then he should have a spot in the league.

Hyunjung Lee

What He Does Well: Lee is one of the best shooters in the NCAA and has great size to get shots over defenders effortlessly. His ability to back and front cut defenders to the rim has helped expand his game this season.

What Scouts Want To See: Lee has to continue improving his ability to take defenders off the dribble. If he does, then he could be a solid NBA player.

Jeremy Sochan

What He Does Well: Sochan has an incredibly high ceiling on both sides of the floor. His catch-and-shoot percentage from behind the arc is promising, and he flashes offensive upside.

What Scouts Want To See: There is no doubt that Sochan is far from polished as a scorer and has large strides to get there. If he can continue to penetrate and finish under control, he could be selected just outside the lottery.

Malaki Branham

What He Does Well: Branham is a bouncy athlete with NBA-level explosiveness and can shoot lights out in the mid-range and on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

What Scouts Want To See: Branham has wonderful shooting form, but scouts want to see him create more shooting opportunities from the perimeter for himself.

Kennedy Chandler

What He Does Well: Chandler is a high IQ point guard who can create for himself and others at a high level.

What Scouts Want To See: Chandler’s limitations are his physical profile and free throw shooting. Chandler struggles at the free-throw line for a player who has shot it so well from the floor this season.

Kendall Brown

What He Does Well: Brown is a terrific athlete with great size at 6-foot-8 and a natural feel for the game. One particular area where he projects especially well is on the defensive end.

What Scouts Want To See: Decision-making and knock-down three-point shooting are areas of improvement for Brown. During the NCAA Tournament, excelling in these two areas could help him climb into the lottery.

Caleb Houstan

What He Does Well: The upside for Houstan is undeniable; he’s been a solid spot-up shooter, especially for a 6-foot-8 freshman. Caleb has not had the freshman season he had hoped for; however, his scoring upside is still there.

What Scouts Want To See: Scouts definitely want Houstan to take that next step towards being a three-level scorer that he has shown flashes of for years.

Christian Koloko

What He Does Well: Koloko is a legitimate seven-footer with fluid movements for his body size, especially in a straight line rim run in transition. His defensive upside should have him selected in the late-first round alone.

What Scouts Want To See: If Koloko can continue to develop his offensive skill set, then there is no reason he cannot turn into an NBA starter down the line.

Blake Wesley

What He Does Well: Wesley is a tough shot-maker who can create for others, especially off of pick and rolls. His ability to slash and get to the rim projects well.

What Scouts Want To See: Wesley’s upside is high if he can continue to develop his three-point shot and improve on shot selection. At times, we see him struggle with consistency, and scouts will want to know he’s reliable to fill it up every night.

Ochai Agbaji

What He Does Well: Agbaji projects as a prototypical 3-and-D player in the NBA. His defensive upside is very high, and his shooting projects well.

What Scouts Want To See: While Agbaji does score a lot, he is not projecting as a primary scoring threat in the NBA, so if he can improve on creating his own shot and finishing around the rim, that will bode well for his draft stock and NBA potential.

Drew is a lead NBA writer at Lineups.com where he has been covering in-season basketball coverage to the NBA Draft. He is a former collegiate player who now spends time diving into NBA prospects and evaluating the analytics of the NBA.

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