March Madness: Stock Up, Stock Down After Opening Weekend
When talking about the top prospects in the NBA Draft, Randle always seemed to be viewed as a level below the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Now Randle is the only one who will be playing next weekend.
Randle led the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 by virtue of a defeat of previously unbeaten Wichita St. in arguably the game of the year, and Randle was an absolute monster for Kentucky in both of their wins.
He posted double-doubles in both victories, and added six assists against a Wichita State defense that focused everything towards stopping him.
With a rivalry game against Louisville looming, Randle has a shot to move ahead of some of the guys who have been listed ahead of him on draft boards across America.
While Aaron Gordon is far from a finished product, he continues to do a lot of things well, especially on the defensive end. Gordon showed everything he can do on that end, while showing some development in his offensive skill set as well.
Gordon has been excellent all-around for the Wildcats, averaging 17 points, seven rebounds, and over four assists this weekend. He also recorded five blocks in their win over Weber State, and four steals in the victory over Gonzaga.
Gordon is an exceptional athlete with a great motor, but he is learning to really apply it to the basketball court. He made two of his three shots from long range and shot over 71 percent from the field this weekend.
Gordon has shown the things we knew he can do, like defense and rebounding, as well as an improved offensive arsenal from the beginning of the season.
He is already a top-10 pick right now, but he has a chance to play himself into possibly the top five.
The only player who will make this list without a victory in the tournament, Marcus Smart had an absolutely phenomenal game in the Cowboys loss to Gonzaga.
Smart’s big calling card is that he is a true two-way player, and he showed that against the Bulldogs. Smart finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and six steals.
Smart was everywhere on the floor, doing everything he could to will his team to victory and it is that kind of effort and passion that you want to see in a young player. You can’t teach heart.
He also showed his top notch athleticism in grabbing 13 rebounds, and six steals do not come by accident.
Smart’s season started out disappointing, especially after his incident in the middle of the season. But ever since coming back, Smart showed the talent and skill that made teams fall in love with him. His one tournament game was another showcase of that, and he will be one of the top picks in this draft.
To be fair, Wiggins’ stock won’t drop too far, but in general, he did not have a good showing in this tournament.
Wiggins had been playing his best basketball of the season in the past couple of weeks, but in the tournament, he reverted back to his passive ways.
In the Jayhawks’ loss to Stanford, he scored only four points on 1-6 shooting. Down the stretch, when Kansas really needed a basket, Wiggins was nowhere to be found, which is probably more troubling than anything.
As someone who is believed to be an all-around player, Wiggins collecting only one assist and one steal in two games just isn’t going to cut it.
Wiggins has the skill set to be a star in the NBA, but this tournament did nothing but bring up more questions about whether Wiggins has the mindset to step it up when the time calls for it.
Hood’s calling card is his shooting ability. The NBA of this day and age is all about wings with good size who can shoot the ball and play defense. Hood did not show that off in Duke’s shocking loss to Mercer.
Duke had an excellent shooting night, especially from deep, but Hood seemed to be the exception to the rule. And to make matters worse, he fouled out of the game.
A 2-10 shooting night in the biggest game of the season is worrying for NBA teams. On the plus side, Hood was able to grab six rebounds and five assists, so he did show that he can help in some other areas.
But once again, Hood is a shooter, and when a shooter goes cold on the big stage, it looks very bad.
While McDermott had one of the more touching scenes of the tournament, sharing a hug with his father, coach Greg McDermott, as he walked off the floor for the final time.
The problem with McDermott is that he walked off the floor after a disappointing showing against Baylor. The Baylor Bears are chock full of long, athletic players. The exact kind that McDermott will see in the NBA.
McDermott struggled to find good shots, was a non-factor in every other facet of the game, and made no three-pointers against Baylor.
It is showings like these that give NBA teams pause about McDermott. His shooting stroke is undeniable, but if he can’t get that shot off against the kind of players he will see at the next level, then he is just the next Adam Morrison.
McDermott had an excellent season, and career, but he’s going to have to prove to scouts that he can thrive at the next level thanks to his final game.
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