This is one of the most exciting times in all of sports as the NCAA Tournament aka March Madness is set to begin. The passion and excitement of this event is unlike any other in sports.
Of course, the tournament also gives basketball fans the opportunity to watch many of the top prospects in college basketball on a big, high-pressured stage and this year’s draft is expected to be one of the deepest in a long time.
At the very least, the Los Angeles Lakers will own two draft picks: the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick that they acquired in the Lou Williams trade, as well as their own second-round pick. It’s well known by now that they will only retain their own first-round selection if it lands in the top-3.
So now we are going region by region to give you players to keep an eye on during the tournament. Next up is the West region.
Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
When it comes to upside, very few people in this draft have as much as Jonathan Isaac. His size and length (6’10, 7’1 wingspan) will allow him to play both forward positions at the next level and his defensive potential is through the roof as he can be lockdown on the perimeter. He still needs to add some strength as he has a thin frame and offensively he can disappear at times. His jumper is inconsistent though he has flashed range out to the three-point line. But he is extremely athletic and has shown the ability to score off the dribble. Showing more consistency, especially on offense, could potentially propel him into that Josh Jackson/Jayson Tatum level.
Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona
A legit seven-footer with his type of offensive versatility is almost unheard of, and that’s why so many scouts are drooling over Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen is an outstanding shooter with deep range who is equally comfortable spotting up, or handling the ball and creating shots off the dribble. He moves very well for his size and presents matchup nightmares. There are some worries for Markkanen however, as he operates mainly on the perimeter and he must improve his post-game. He also needs to round out the rest of his game, namely becoming a better rebounder and defender. This is one of those cases where Markkanen brings a skill set that is very difficult to duplicate.
Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
He doesn’t get as many minutes as some, but the raw talent for Collins is evident. He can score in a number of ways and is comfortable operating down low or stepping out on the perimeter. He runs the floor well for a seven-footer and has proven to be a capable rim protector as well. He is young so he still needs to fill out his frame and add some strength. He has also struggled with foul issues as is to be expected, but he makes an impact when he is on the floor. You can’t teach size and if he continues to play a big role for a Gonzaga team that can win the entire tournament, he could see himself rise into the lottery.
Bonzie Colson, PF, Notre Dame
Bonzie Colson is one of those players who can dominate the college ranks, but his questionable physical profile makes projecting an NBA career difficult. Colson is a 6’5 power forward, but he is an extremely good one. His wingspan (7’0) makes up for his lack of height and he is a very efficient scorer who finds ways to finish in the paint, and can step out shoot from deep. His wingspan helps him on the boards as well as on defense where he blocks shots as well. The challenge for Colson will be convincing scouts that his lack of size won’t keep him from contributing at the next level.
Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona
Allonzo Trier is a true shooting guard in every sense. He can score with just about anyone in the country and in a variety of ways. He is a great outside shooter, and can finish at the rim just as well. He’s got an NBA-ready body and isn’t afraid of the big moment. Trier is a good, but not great athlete and has just average length for the position. He also dealt with a positive PED test that kept him out for much of the early season that teams will surely want to hear about. Nonetheless, he needs to prove that he can do more than just score to rise into a first-round possibility.
Others to keep an eye on: Melo Trimble (Maryland), Dwayne Bacon (Florida St.), Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga), V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame), Justin Jackson (Maryland)