2015 NCAA Tournament: First Weekend NBA Prospect Breakdown

2015 NCAA Tournament: First Weekend NBA Prospect Breakdown
Mar 16, 2015, 12:34 am
With the 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket officially set, we take a look at how the first weekend is shaping up from a NBA Draft perspective. Who are the prospects and what will NBA teams be looking for in each pod?
-NCAA Tournament NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Thursday
-NCAA Tournament NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Friday
-DraftExpress NCAA Tournament Schedule Grid

Note: The numbers listed next to players' names is their standing in the latest iteration of our Top-100 prospect rankings.

Full Bracket, TV Guide and Tip Times

First Four
Dayton (Tuesday 3/17 and Wednesday 3/18
#16 Hampton
#16 Manhattan
Tuesday 3/17, 6:40 PM - truTV
#11 Dayton Dyshawn Pierre, Jordan Sibert
#11 Boise State Derrick Marks, James Webb
Tuesday 3/17, 9:10 PM - truTV

Analysis: Fun matchup between a Boise State team who had a number of prospects emerge this season as they flew under the radar against a Dayton squad with many returnees from last seasons' magical run. Both of these teams weathered significant personnel losses as Boise State lost Anthony Drmic early in the year and Dayton has played small the entire season after two of their big men were dismisses midseason.

This will be a great test to see how James Webb, an extremely athletic 42% 3-point shooting 6'9 sophomore whose potential as a Wilson Chandler-esqe 3'n'D small forward has flown under the radar playing in the Mountain West, stacks up against Pierre and Sibert who man the forward spots for the Flyers. If will be interesting to see if Derrick Marks can get rolling against Dayton's scrappy backcourt as he looks to end his career on a high note, after tallying off somewhat the past few weeks. Both Sibert and Pierre have seen their outside shooting numbers fall off this season, which has tempered much of the enthusiasm around their pro outlook.
#16 North Florida
#16 Robert Morris
Wednesday 3/18, 6:40 PM - truTV
#11 BYU Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth
#11 Mississippi Jarvis Summers, Sebastian Saiz
Wednesday 3/18, 9:10 PM - truTV

Analysis: BYU's fast paced offense is always worth watching. Kyle Collinsworth has been a triple-double machine for the Cougars, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against a very good high major half court defense. The 23-year old Collinsworth does everything except shoot effectively from the perimeter (29% 2P%), which is a major flaw in today's hyper 3-point shooting landscape of the NBA. Ole Miss' average defense could help him have a good outing.

Jarvis Summers, an athletic combo guard who distributes very effectively at his size, has regressed badly offensively after a breakout season, seeing his TS% fall from a stellar 60% to a mediocre 46%. He'll get a chance to bounce back on a national stage against the high-scoring, but underwhelming physically Tyler Haws, who would be a coveted NBA prospect if he shared Summers' enviable tools.

South Region
Charlotte (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#1 Duke #1 Jahlil Okafor, #9 Justise Winslow, #27 Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Grayson Allen
#16 Robert Morris See First Four Above
Friday 3/20, 7:10 PM - CBS

#8 San Diego State Winston Shepard, Malik Pope, Dwayne Polee, Angelo Chol
#9 St. John's #87 Chris Obekpa (suspended), Sir'Dominic Pointer, D'Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan
Friday 3/20, 9:40 PM - CBS

Analysis: San Diego State's aggressive man to man defense facing off with St. John's undersized and positionless frontcourt inside should make for a fun matchup. Obekpa's untimely suspension will mean that St. John's will have to give minutes to the untested duo of Amar Alibegovic and Joey Delarosa. Sir'Dominic Pointer has helped himself considerably this season with his terrific athleticism, intensity and versatility, making plays all over the court. He sees most of his minutes at the power forward position despite standing 6-5, but his lack of perimeter shooting ability (he's only 2/23 for 3 on the season) has hampered his draft stock from taking off. Similar things can be said for San Diego State's Winston Shepard, who is much taller, but far less productive and reliable.

SDSU freshman Malik Pope has the size, tools and talent to develop into an intriguing draft prospect down the road, as a Quincy Miller-esqe 6-10 sweet-shooting small forward, but currently lacks much in the way of polish, experience or awareness.
Portland (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#5 Utah #20 Jakob Poeltl, #30 Delon Wright, Brekkott Chapman
#12 Stephen F. Austin
Thursday 3/19, 7:27 PM - truTV

#4 Georgetown #90 Joshua Smith, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Paul White, L.J. Peak, Isaac Copeland
#13 Eastern Washington Tyler Harvey
Thursday 3/19, 9:57 PM - truTV

Analysis: Some very intriguing matchups right away in San Diego, with one of low major basketball's truly elite scorers Tyler Harvey and Stephen F. Austin's tremendously efficient offensive attack facing off against quality high major opponents in Utah and Georgetown.

Tyler Harvey is one of the best shooter-scorers you'll find, an absolutely lights out marksman who is liable to pull-up off the dribble from half-court if given even the slightest glimmer of daylight. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, and he isn't blessed with great size, but he is a better athlete and a more versatile shot-creator than most of the shoot-first gunners we see coming out of the low-major ranks. With a strong Tournament showing, he could very well put himself on the NBA Draft radar in a serious way, if he wasn't there already.

The second round promises to be intriguing if the favorites get the job done as a Joshua Smith-Jakob Poeltl matchup would be a very interesting contrast in styles.
Louisville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#6 Southern Methodist Yanick Moreira, Markus Kennedy, Ben Moore
#11 UCLA #14 Kevon Looney, #59 Norman Powell, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton, Thomas Welsh
Thursday 3/19, 3:10 PM - truTV

#3 Iowa State #95 Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Dustin Hogue, Jameel McKay
#14 Alabama-Birmingham
Thursday 3/19, 12:40 PM - truTV

Analysis: UCLA sneaking into the NCAA Tournament will give NBA scouts a chance to see Kevon Looney face off with one of the nation's most underrated frontcourt pairings. Moreira and Kennedy may not be elite NBA prospects, but they've been terrific for Larry Brown's Mustangs this season and will be a real test of UCLA's highly regarded freshman. Looney's production has dropped off significantly in Pac-12 action, to the point that his status as a sure-fire lottery pick is very much in question at this stage. A strong Tournament showing could help him erase the negative momentum he's suffered with his draft stock as of late.

Regardless of who emerges from the UCLA-SMU scrum, a challenging matchup is likely in the form of Iowa State. While Georges Niang gets most of the accolades, Monte Morris and Jameel McKay have emerged as their most likely NBA prospects over the course of the Big 12. Both are likely a year away from testing that theory, but have much to gain with a strong NCAA Tournament showing. Morris is one of college basketball's best playmakers, while McKay is a long-armed athletic role-player who does a little bit of everything.
Seattle (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#2 Gonzaga #18 Domantas Sabonis, Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer, Byron Wesley, Kevin Pangos, Josh Perkins
#15 North Dakota State
Friday 3/20, 9:50 PM - TNT

#7 Iowa #85 Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Gabe Olaseni, Adam Woodbury
#10 Davidson
Friday 3/20, 7:20 PM - TNT

Iowa senior Aaron White has always been one of the most efficient offensive players in college basketball, doing yeoman's work in transition and finishing explosively around the basket off lobs. But he's started to expand his game more frequently out to the perimeter as of late, making nine 3-pointers in the past six games, which is much needed considering his average frame standing 6-9. He'll likely never be considered a great defender with that body type, but his ability to make shots makes him far more intriguing considering how athletic he is, so continuing to do so for as long as he can will help him make a late push towards possibly getting drafted. He's got the right matchups to do so against Davidson and then likely Gonzaga should both teams advance.
West Region

Omaha (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#1 Wisconsin #10 Frank Kaminsky, #22 Sam Dekker, #44 Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Duje Dukan
#16 Coastal Carolina
Friday 3/20, 9:20 PM - TBS

#8 Oregon Joseph Young, Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell
#9 Oklahoma State LeBryan Nash, Michael Cobbins
Friday 3/20, 6:50 PM - TBS

Analysis: Lebryan Nash went from top-10 recruit to persona non grata over the course of four years at Oklahoma State, never quite developing the requisite perimeter skill-set or all-around game NBA teams look for at the small forward position. He has one last chance to impress with a strong showing against Oregon, and then a monster matchup against Wisconsin should his team advance.
Jacksonville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#5 Arkansas #16 Bobby Portis, #60 Michael Qualls, Moses Kingsley, Rashad Madden
#12 Wofford
Thursday 3/19, 9:50 PM - TNT
#4 North Carolina #39 Kennedy Meeks, #47 Justin Jackson, #50 Brice Johnson, #55 J.P. Tokoto, #63 Marcus Paige, Theo Pinson, Isaiah Hicks, Joel Berry
#13 Harvard Siyani Chambers, Wesley Saunders
Thursday 3/19, 7:20 PM - TNT

Analysis: Should the favorites emerge in the Round of 64, we could see one of the most entertaining matchups of the opening weekend between Arkansas and North Carolina, both featuring some extremely interesting draft prospects who could use a boost to their stock. Bobby Portis will be tested in a major way with Kennedy Meeks, and while he's made a living as one of the most efficient post-up threats in college basketball, his ability to take him (and Joel James) to the perimeter will be a huge key to this up-tempo contest.

First, the athletic and versatile Wesley Saunders will have a chance to show that his production at the Ivy League level can translate against better competition when he goes up against J.P. Tokoto and Justin Jackson. Saunders has never needed to incorporate a 3-point shot into his game in a major way to find production for Harvard, only making 47 3-pointers in 116 career games, and NBA scouts will want to see how he looks against more athletic players.
Portland (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#2 Arizona #5 Stanley Johnson, #23 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, #68 Kaleb Tarczewski, #100 Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, T.J. McConnell, Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright
#15 Texas Southern Chris Thomas
Thursday 3/19, 2:10 PM - TNT

#7 Virginia Commonwealth Treveon Graham, Terry Larrier
#10 Ohio State #4 D'Angelo Russell, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Marc Loving
Thursday 3/19, 4:40 PM - TNT

Analysis: Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the first round from a draft prospective will pit D'Angelo Russell against VCU's “havoc” defense. Given that he frequently brings the ball up for the floor for the Buckeyes, how will the freshman respond to the ball pressure he'll face against the Rams? Russell sports a laid-back and often methodical style of play, so it will be fascinating to see how he reacts when his mettle is tested in scrambled settings.

Whether it's the Buckeyes or the Rams who advance, they'll likely face a stacked Arizona team. NBA scouts will likely be rooting for the Buckeyes to advance to the round of 32 as the potential matchup between Johnson with Russell would be a tremendous chance for them to see two potential top-5 picks on the floor at the same time. Arizona would likely sic Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on Russell for extended stretches, which would be arguably the toughest test the young freshman has seen in his career to date. Many questions have arisen the past few months about Russell's average athleticism and how his game will translate against bigger and more physically gifted competition, so all NBA eyeballs will be on Portland should this matchup materialize.

Jacksonville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#3 Baylor #80 Ricardo Gathers, Taurean Prince, Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Royce O'Neal
#14 Georgia State #24 R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow, Kevin Ware
Thursday 3/19, 1:40 PM - TBS

#6 Xavier Jalen Reynolds, Trevon Bluiett
#11 Mississippi See First Four Above
Thursday 3/19, 4:10 PM - TBS

Analysis: R.J Hunter will get a chance to bounce back from a dismal 3-15 shooting performance in the Sun Belt championship game against Baylor's zone. Hunter is shooting a career worst 30% from beyond the arc this season as opposing teams have keyed in on him. Baylor's zone has been more active and aggressive than it has been in recent seasons when the Bears have had more size and they won't make things easy for the Georgia State standout. Given that the Panthers often play small, Baylor's Ricardo Gathers could have a field day on the offensive glass where he's been nothing short of tremendous this season. Baylor's Taurean Prince has quietly strung together a tremendous season, and a strong Tournament showing in March could help him gain recognition for his efforts as a 6-7 sweet-shooting role-player who does a little bit of everything, despite not being incredibly gifted athletically.
East Region

Pittsburgh(Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#1 Villanova Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston, Daniel Ochefu, Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart
#16 Lafayette
Thursday 3/19, 6:50 PM - TBS

#8 North Carolina State Anthony Barber, Trevor Lacey, Beejay Anya, Abdul Malik-Abu
#9 LSU #28 Jarell Martin, #79 Jordan Mickey
Thursday 3/19, 9:20 PM - TBS

Analysis: This season has been a roller coaster ride for N.C. State, but they've done a consistently stellar job protecting the rim on the defensive end. That will provide a terrific litmus test for Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, who were both tabbed All-SEC 1st team members earlier this month. Martin has been a breakout star of sorts, and it will be interesting to see how effectively he's able to score inside against the Wolfpack's length, size, and strength inside.

Villanova may not have any elite prospects this season, but Jay Wright's squad won't be an easy out as they're one of the most prolific perimeter scoring teams in all of college basketball.

Seattle (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#5 Northern Iowa Seth Tuttle
#12 Wyoming Larry Nance
Friday 3/20, 1:40 PM - TBS

#4 Louisville #18 Montrezl Harrell, #40 Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku
#13 UC Irvine Mamadou Ndiaye, Luke Nelson
Friday 3/20, 4:10 PM - TBS

Analysis: Montrezl Harrell is a the headliner in one of the weaker regions for NBA prospects. It is always interesting to see how teams matchup with the 7'6 Mamdou Ndiaye, who Harrell will see in the first round before he runs into either Larry Nance or Seth Tuttle in the second round. Louisville has struggled at times offensively in the absence of Chris Jones, but their defense could be enough to earn them a spot in the Sweet 16.

Playing against Louisville would be a great chance for Seth Tuttle to show that his terrific offensive skill-level and feel for the game can translate against better competition than he's faced in the Missouri Valley Conference. Tuttle is an extremely versatile player, but his average frame, athleticism and defensive prowess has made it difficult for him to gain serious momentum as a draft prospect.

After an injury plagued season Mamadou Ndiaye could very well look to jump to the NBA if he can find a way to have a strong outing against Louisville. Ndiaye is one of the biggest and longest human beings on this planet, and his presence alone inside the paint will pose a serious challenge for Harrell and company to score efficiently. Ndiaye's mobility, conditioning and ability to step away from the paint will be challenged by Rick Pitino's group, and the results should be fascinating to watch.

Charlotte (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#2 Virginia #25 Justin Anderson, #75 Mike Tobey, Malcolm Brogdon
#15 Belmont
Friday 3/20, 3:10 PM - truTV

#7 Michigan State #97 Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine
#10 Georgia
Friday 3/20, 12:40 PM - truTV

Analysis: A Virginia-Michigan State matchup in the Round of 32 would be one of the most anticipated of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, pitting two of the top coaches in the game against each other in a slow and physical affair.

NBA scouts will be keeping an eye on the health of Justin Anderson in anticipation of a potentially interesting round of 32 matchup between the battered swingman and Denzel Valentine, who nearly willed Michigan State to a win in the Big Ten Tournament Championship over Wisconsin. Anderson was obviously limited by the broken left pinky on his shooting hand during Virginia's short ACC Tournament stint, and will want to avoid a prolonged slump in order to not damage his stock as well as his team's chances of making the Final Four.

Columbus (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#3 Oklahoma #52 Buddy Hield, TaShawn Thomas
#14 Albany
Friday 3/20, 7:27 PM - truTV

#6 Providence #17 Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris
#11 Dayton See First Four Above
Friday 3/20, 9:57 PM - truTV

Analysis: Whomever comes out of the Dayton/Boise State matchup will make for a solid guard matchup for Kris Dunn. The 6'4 point guard has ranked among the most prolific passers in the country this season and has solidified himself as one of the top point guards in the country after missing most of last season. A potential Round of 32 meeting with Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners' Transition-heavy offense would give Dunn another chance to leave a strong final impression on scouts as he looks to propel himself into lottery consideration.

Hield, who is reportedly strongly considering declaring for the draft, will want to go out on a good note, which means not getting bounced out of the tournament in the first weekend.
Midwest Region

Louisville (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#1 Kentucky #2 Karl Towns, #7 Willie Cauley-Stein, #15 Devin Booker, #26 Trey Lyles, #38 Dakari Johnson, #61 Andrew Harrison, #88 Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee, Aaron Harrison,
#16 Hampton See First Four Above
Thursday 3/19, 9:40 PM - CBS

#8 Cincinnati Gary Clark, Octavius Ellis
#9 Purdue #57 A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards
Thursday 3/19, 7:10 PM - CBS

Analysis: There will be no shortage of scouts following Kentucky throughout the NCAA Tournament, which should come as no surprise considering the Wildcats' roster includes no fewer than 10 players in our various class rankings, and 7 players in our top-100.

They could be in for a real treat if Purdue is able to overcome Cincinnati's stifling defense as A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas would provide one of the best measuring sticks for Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein that can be found in the NCAA this season. Purdue is one of the few teams in the country that can match Kentucky's size at the center position.

Hammons in particular has seen somewhat of a resurgence in his draft stock as of late behind some long-anticipated inspired play. The 7-footer is blessed with great length, offensive instincts and shot-blocking timing, but too often looked motivationally challenged in his first few seasons at Purdue. Turning 23 this summer, now is the time to show that he is serious about stating his case as a draft prospect, and there's no better team to do it against than Kentucky. First, Purdue will have to get by Cincinnati, though.

Columbus (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#5 West Virginia #92 Juwan Staten, Devin Williams
#12 Buffalo
Friday 3/20, 2:10 PM - TNT

#4 Maryland #34 Jake Layman, #62 Melo Trimble, Dez Wells
#13 Valparaiso Alec Peters
Friday 3/20, 4:10 PM - TNT

Analysis: A banged up Juwan Staten could mean trouble for West Virginia who relies heavily on his ability to pressure the ball and create off the dribble. The 5'11 point guard has taken the long road into our top-100. The 65th ranked player in the 2010 RSCI, the Dayton native made an immediate impact at his home town school as a freshman before transferring to West Virginia. After struggling as a sophomore coming off his redshirt year Staten exploded as a junior averaging 18.1 points per-game. Though his scoring numbers are down this year, his game has matured by leaps and bounds from his freshman year and his health is critical to the Mountaineers.

The Jake Layman – Alec Peters matchup in the first game between Maryland and Valpo should be very interesting, as Peters is one of the most skilled and efficient perimeter oriented big men in the college game these days. Layman is much more gifted physically, but is also a talented and versatile power forward, which should provide for an intriguing contrast of styles.

Should both West Virginia and Maryland advance, their matchup Sunday will be an interesting one as breakout freshman Melo Trimble will look to weather the storm that is West Virginia's full court press.

Omaha (Friday 3/20 and Sunday 3/22)

#2 Kansas #12 Kelly Oubre, #31 Cliff Alexander, #78 Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Brannen Greene, Landen Lucas, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Jamari Traylor
#15 New Mexico State Pascal Siakam
Friday 3/20, 12:15 PM - CBS

#7 Wichita State #51 Ron Baker, #84 Fred VanVleet,
#10 Indiana #42 Yogi Ferrell, #48 Troy Williams, James Blackmon, Robert Johnson, Hanner Perea
Friday 3/20, 2:45 PM - CBS

Analysis: The early games in Omaha will have a fair amount of draft intrigue. The Indiana/Wichita State matchup will feature three guards in our top-100, as Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker take on Yogi Farrell in what should be one of the second day's more entertaining matchups. Wichita always comes tremendously prepared in the postseason and it will be interesting to see how they look to pick apart Indiana's zone/man switching defense.

Kansas will be an obvious attraction as well with their litany of young players. Kelly Oubre has rallied from a slow start over the last few months, but his he scored just 3 points in 17 minutes in Kansas's disappointing loss to Iowa State in the conference tournament finals. A couple of strong performances in the NCAA Tournament would be a nice cap to what to what has been an otherwise inconsistent year for the star freshman.

Wichita State will not be lacking for motivation playing against their in-state rivals, who have consistently refused to schedule them over the years.

Pittsburgh (Thursday 3/19 and Saturday 3/21)

#3 Notre Dame #13 Jerian Grant, #43 Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton, Zach Auguste, Bonzie Colson
#14 Northeastern
Thursday 3/19, 12:15 PM - CBS

#6 Butler Kellen Dunham
#11 Texas #11 Myles Turner, #81 Jonathan Holmes, #83 Isaiah Taylor, Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh
Thursday 3/19, 2:45 PM - CBS

Analysis: Fresh off a run to the ACC Championship game, Notre Dame is faced with a potentially intriguing third round match up with Texas should the Longhorns manage to dispatch Butler and rebound from their recent struggles. A battle between Texas's big men and Notre Dame's guard heavy attack would be fascinating should they advance. Regardless, everyone will want to see how Myles Turner handles himself in what could be his last game at the college level.

Irish senior Jerian Grant has had a magical season and will obviously have a ton to play for with this being his last run at the NCAA Tournament. Texas would provide a nice showcase for him to match up against with their plethora of shot-blockers on the interior, as well as the extremely athletic Isaiah Taylor on the perimeter. But first, Texas will need to get past a very well coached and scrappy Butler team.

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