Even though it is just one game or a few games, the NCAA Tournament can do wonders to either help or hurt a college basketball player’s NBA Draft Stock; especially on the big stage of the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. Here are some players who have seen their stock rise and fall this past weekend. Click here for The Sports Bank’s 2011 NBA Mock Draft. You can also check out the list of underclassmen who have already declared for the draft or announced their intention of returning to school.
By: David Kay
Derrick Williams, F, Arizona, Soph.
He was absolutely beastly in helping Zona upset top seeded Duke, scoring 25 of his 32 points in the first half, hitting five of his six triple tries, and hauling in 13 rebounds. Even though he had foul trouble against UConn and forced a lot of three-point attempts, he still managed to score 20 points in 26 minutes thanks to his aggressiveness and ability to finish around the tin. He is an all-around threat on offense and a legit candidate to be the top overall pick in the draft.
Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke, Fr.
If there was any doubting his skill, try scoring 28 points in your third game back after missing more than three months of the season with a toe injury. That is what Irving did against Arizona, pretty much single-handedly keeping the Blue Devils somewhat alive in the game. He is very much in the discussion for the top overall pick if he ends up declaring for the draft.
Jamie Skeen, PF, VCU, Sr.
Skeen has helped anchor one of the most improbable Final Four runs in the NCAA Tournament. He more than held his own in the Elite 8 against three first round prospects in Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Thomas Robinson, pouring in 26 points and grabbing ten rebounds. In a matter of weeks he has gone from barely on any draft radars to a second round candidate.
Matt Howard, PF, Butler, Sr.
Due to his hustle, energy, and toughness, I am beginning to sell myself on the fact that some team will take a second round flyer on Howard. He dominated his Sweet 16 match-up against Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer and just knows how to make winning plays. Even if he is the 15th player on a roster, he will bring a tremendous energy to the practice floor and will get his chance somewhere. Let’s just hope it is not in Boston because Kevin Garnett would probably punch him at some point of the season… or maybe we should hope it IS Boston…
Alex Tyus, PF, Florida, Sr.
Add Tyus to the Skeen/Howard category of players who may have played themselves into the second round. Tyus put up 19 points and 17 boards against BYU and 14-10 versus Butler. He is a bit under-sized to be an NBA power forward but has solid athleticism and good strength. The headband rocking, balding Gator is still a long shot to be a second round pick but definitely opened some eyes this past weekend.
DeAndre Liggins, G/F, Kentucky, Jr.
It will not be this year, but Liggins could have helped his chances of being a second round prospect in the 2012 Draft. Liggins is an improved outside shooter and hit some big shots in helping the ‘Cats advance to the Final Four. However, it is ability to D’ up that makes him attractive for the next level, and at 6’6”, has the ideal size to an effective role player. He gets overshadowed playing alongside first round prospects Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, and that will not change next year when Kentucky welcomes four McDonald’s All-American aboard. Still, he is someone who could find his way into the draft based on his defensive prowess alone.
Jon Leuer, PF, Wisconsin, Sr.
Leuer played his worst game of the season on a huge stage when matched up against Butler’s Matt Howard. He was held to three points, the first time he scored in single digits all season long, on 1-12 shooting. His lack of physicality remains his biggest obstacle as he tries to transition to the NBA. There is still a chance he ends up being taken in the first round, but more than likely slides into the second.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a fomer contributor at The Washington Times Communities. You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.Follow paulmbanks