By: David Kay
With the NCAA Tournament, college basketball players are on the biggest national stage of them all. Everybody is watching including NBA scouts and general managers. Here is a list of players who made a name for themselves, thus helping their draft stock in the opening weekend.
Omar Samhan, C, St. Mary’s, Sr.
Samhan’s game reminds a little bit of what we have seen from DeMarcus Cousins this year. The Gaels senior is a force down low to his size, plethora of moves around the basket, and outstanding footwork. He won’t blow anyone away with his athleticism which hurts his chances of making it in the association, but just has a natural feel for scoring the basketball when he is around the rim. Samhan had 61 points on 24-32 shooting while grabbing 19 rebounds in the first weekend of the tourney which should not be surprising considering he is one of two players in the nation to average 20 points and 10 boards a game. A big man with his polished offensively ability is always in need at the next level which should certainly earn Samhan some possible second round looks.
Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU, Jr.
Anytime you score 37 points in an NCAA Tournament game, you are going to add some buzz to your draft status. Fredette had an outstanding season for the Cougars and proved he is one of the most dangerous shooters in college basketball. Besides being able to shoot the rock, Fredette has the smarts to use his strong body and ball fakes to get to the basket as well. I think he will entertain the thought of putting his name into the draft without hiring an agent thus leaving open the possibility of returning for his senior season. Due to his shooting ability alone, he would be a second round pick. With good work-outs and a strong tourney showing now on his resume, he could potentially sneak into the late first round.
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky, Fr.
Bledsoe blew up in the Wildcats’ opening round game hitting eight of nine from downtown. All the hype surrounding Kentucky this season has been centered around fellow freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, but Bledsoe is showing that he has lottery-pick skills as well. If he continues his high level of play and the Wildcats keep advancing, he too could turn pro and due to a weak class of point guards, possibly be a lottery pick.
Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier, Jr.
I covered the Musketeers’ second round game against Pitt and came away really impressed by Crawford’s play. He has a natural gift of scoring the basketball from the perimeter, off the bounce, and in transition. When he gets in the zone; watch out. Crawford made a name for himself prior to the season with his pick-up game dunk on LeBron James but this past weekend, showed he is one of the top scoring guards in the country. I doubt he enters the draft this summer, but will be looked at as a possible first rounder in 2011.
Armon Bassett, G, Ohio, Jr.
For as much college basketball as I watch (topped the 300 game mark this season) I did not even know Bassett played for Ohio. The Indiana cast-off from the Kalvin Sampson drama, Bassett let the basketball world know he was still playing when he dropped 32 points in the Bobcats’ shocking first round upset of Georgetown. He struggled in the second round match-up against Tennessee, scoring just seven points but stayed involved by grabbing five boards and dishing out six assists. He can initiate the offense, shoot the rock, and gets to the free throw line frequently which is odd for a player of his height and position. Bassett is already 23 years old so his basketball re-birth during the tourney could cause him to enter his name into the draft. In a year of weak point guard prospects, he could find himself taken in the second round, but even if he doesn’t; Bassett has garnered a lot of attention after this weekend.
Ryan Wittman, F, Cornell, Sr.
One of the Cinderella stories of the 2010 tourney has been Cornell who has been sparked by Wittman. He does not possess the athletic ability desired at the next level but he can shoot the ball and has a tremendous feel for the game. The Big Red run can only increase the possibility of Wittman getting drafted and with his father’s connections in the pro game, those chances are improving and will only continue to grow if Wittman can lead Cornell to a massive upset of top-ranked Kentucky.
Jon Leuer, PF, Wisconsin, Jr.
After missing nine conference games due to a fractured bone in his wrist, it took Leuer a little bit to return to his normal form. That was seen in the NCAA Tournament when he showed off his versatility. He scored 43 points while playing all but two minutes in the Badgers two games. The 6-10 Leuer, single-handedly kept Wisconsin alive in the first half against Cornell with his ability to hit outside shots, take defenders off the dribble, and variety of moves in the post. He won’t turn pro after this season but could have moved into the first round of the 2011 draft due to his solid showing.
Click here for David’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft
Click here for David’s 2011 NBA Mock Draft