Joakim Noah has himself another Andrei Kirilenko-type statline in a dominating all-around performance to propel Florida into the Sweet 16. Brandon Roy does the same for UW, but in much more discreet fashion. James Augustine appeared to be on his way to a career night but was stopped short in so small part due to his teammates. The Dukies click on all cylinders and all find themselves amongst many others in the Stock Up department.
The Stock Down and Neutral prospects for this round can be found HERE.
Joakim Noah, 611, Sophomore, SF/PF/C, Florida
17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 4 blocks, 2 steals, 5-10 FG, 7-9 FT
Time after time Noah would do things with the ball that 6-11 players are just not supposed to do; starting off a play with an emphatic blocked shot or rebound, handling the ball and igniting the fast break himself 60 feet down the floor, and then delivering a pin-point no-look pass to a streaking teammate. With Corey Brewer in foul trouble or slightly dazed after a hard fall mid-way through the first half Coach Billy Donovan decided to play Noah at the small forward position to let the NBA scouts salivate some more. And salivate they did as Noah broke his man down off the dribble and passed off wonderfully to a teammate for an easy basket. When the full-court press came in the back-court Noah went to help his point guard out and calmly broke it himself. If that wasnt enough to start drawing the Kevin Garnett comparisons, he promptly stepped outside and pulled up off the dribble for an 18-foot mid-range jumpshot, which he swished.
In half-court sets he showed that hes capable of playing like a big man too, utilizing his quickness for a beautiful drop-step move and a thunderous one-handed dunk, or posterizing two rivals at the same time by just exploding over the top of them for the tomahawk jam. His jump-hook shots werent really falling for him today as much as they usually do, struggling a bit with the strength of his UW-Milwaukee opponents who refused to give him any space in the paint, but Noah found other ways to make his presence felt. Just to show off his toughness, Noah took a hard shot to the mouth just a month after having oral surgery in the same place, but brushed it off as if nothing happened and kept on fighting.
At half-time a phone call from an NBA talent evaluator told much of the story about how Noah drove the dozens of scouts present in Jacksonville ballistic with his play. Top 10? he sneered Hes going to get consideration for #1 overall when its all said and done. The stories they missed on TV about the incredible growth spurt he went through between his sophomore and senior years of high school (going from being a 6-2 point guard to a 6-11 center) probably wouldnt do much to change their minds, considering what that means for his upside.
Brandon Roy, 6'6, Senior, Shooting Guard, Washington
21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 block, 5-11 FG, 11-14 FT
Like we have seen from Roy all season, his 21 points weren't of the "loud" variety. Aside from an occasional slash to the basket, Roy was content to sit back and run the offense. He scored most of his points from the free throw line, and never really took over offensively. He was quiet for much of the second half, as Illinois made their run. With the Illini up eight and threatening to pull away completely, you could see that assertive light go on. Roy began attacking the basket relentlessly, usually finding an open teammate after drawing the defense. It was Roy's beautiful slashing layin that tied the game with 3:26 to play.
If Roy was being looked at as a potential star at the next level, the fact that he only took 11 shots might be a little disturbing. However, today's performance just shows how effective Roy is going to be in a supporting role for an NBA team. He doesn't need a lot of shots to be effective, and actually appears more comfortable fitting into the flow of his team's offense.
A likely matchup with Connecticut looms, and Lorenzo Romar will likely need a heroic effort from his senior to advance.
James Augustine, 610, Senior, Power Forward, Illinois
19 points, 9 rebounds, 7-9 FG, 5-6 FT
He showed off his outstanding agility time after time, putting the ball on the floor and taking it emphatically all the way to the hoop for a two handed slam., setting terrific screens and getting himself open right at the rim, doing an excellent job on the glass as well as moving off the ball and getting to the free throw line repeatedly. There was nothing soft or passive about the way Augustine was playing in this game, two things that have consistently been the biggest knocks against him in his four year career. At one point he grabbed a defensive rebound and pretended he was going to swing his elbows right in the face of Washington point guard Justin Dentmon if he didnt get out of the way, a move wed usually never dream of seeing from the usually meek and mild-tempered senior.
It was in fact Augustine that got Illinois back in the game when they started off the first half 4-25 from the field and down 28-14 with 5 minutes left to go in the half. His athleticism was just too much for the Huskies to handle, to the point that Lorenzo Romar was forced to put his best and most athletic defender in 6-7 Bobby Jones on him.
With 15 minutes to go in the first half that all came to an end for some strange reason that even Bruce Weber couldnt explain. Augustine, 7-9 from the field at that point, didnt get another field goal attempt the entire game. A small part of that had to do with Augustine losing a bit of his fire and not moving off the ball quite as well as he had previously, but you could count the number of actual touches he got in those fifteen minutes on one hand. His body language looked a bit timid down the stretch, but his teammates should have done a much better job of getting him involved in the game considering how hot he was earlier.
So where does that leave Augustine as far as the NBA draft goes? He clearly helped his cause in this game, as well as down the stretch during the regular season. 6-10 athletic big men with long arms and a decent frame dont grow on trees, especially when they have a nice touch both around the basket and from mid-range. From what weve been told hes accepted his invite to Portsmouth in a few weeks and now that his season is over should have no reason not to attend If he comes out with some fire and a chip on his shoulder he could very easily work himself into being a solid first round pick, despite the fact that hes not even projected as a draft pick anywhere else besides DraftExpress.
J.J. Redick, 64, Senior, Shooting Guard, Duke
20 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 7/14 FG, 4/9 3PT, 2/7 FT
Throughout the entire game, the sharp shooter was face guarded by a Colonial defender, essentially making it a game of four on four. Teammates Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts benefited greatly from this, as they only had one man guarding them in the post instead of the usual double team. Redick displayed amazing footwork coming off screens, forcing opposing defenders to stay right on his hip the entire time chasing him through screens. Once he had the ball in his hands, J.J. made some very sound decisions and showed that his ball handling is improving each and every time we see him step out on the floor. He attacked his man off the dribble on more than one occasion and pulled up from mid-range soundly using some very smooth looking offensive moves. Moving off the ball in his trademark fashion, he even showed some athleticism getting up for a very nice reverse lay-up at one point.
This was just another step in J.J.s journey of leading Duke to a national championship. As long as he is able to keep this type of play up, we will surely be hearing his name in the lottery when June rolls around.
Shelden Williams, 69, Senior, PF/C, Duke
17 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4-10 FG, 9-9 FT
As always, it started with his defense. Despite getting some favorable non-calls that he really didnt need, Williams dominated on this end of the floor with his outstanding combination of strength and fundamentals. He blocked 7 shots and altered countless others, hit the glass like a man possessed and made sure that any GW player that came in the post will be sorry about it when they wade up tomorrow.
Offensively, Williams was his regular super-solid self. He ran the floor hard in transition and was rewarded for it on numerous occasions by freshman stud point guard Greg Paulus, and either finished efficiently around the basket in half-court sets or got to the free throw line. Once at the charity stripe, he knocked down all 9 of his free throws.
Again, nothing new here, instead just reaffirming to us that Williams is on his way to a long and productive NBA career as a solid role-player who could help any team in the league right now.
Josh McRoberts, 611, Freshman, Power Forward, Duke
14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4/5 FG, 6/9 FT
While the NBA will definitely be knocking on McRoberts door this spring, he would be best suited to spend one more season at Duke before putting his name in the Draft. With the departure of Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick, he would be able to become the go-to-guy of the Blue Devil offense. Regardless of when he comes out however, Josh will likely see himself selected in the lottery portion of that respective draft.
Corey Brewer, 68, Sophomore, Small Forward, Florida
23 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 9-16 FG, 5-8 3P, 23 minutes
He started off the game extremely hot, swishing a picture perfect looking 3-pointer, knocking down a mid-range shot in transition and then knocking down yet another 3-pointer coming off a screen. Two fouls in the first 8 minutes of the game, the second of which came along with a mild concussion after hitting his head on the parquet, forced him to sit out for the rest of the first half. When he came back in the 2nd half he continued right where he left off, swishing 3-pointers and mid-range shots off curls, attacking the basket in transition and continuing to play outstanding defense on whoever he was asked to guard. His primary matchup Joah Tucker ended up going 4-14 from the field when he wasnt on the bench in foul trouble. One defensive play he made mid-way through the 2nd half really emphasized what a special athlete and tenacious player Brewer is. After falling to the ground he managed to get up and close out his man all the way on the opposite end of the floor to block a 3-point attempt.
Brewer didnt end up playing too many minutes in this contest, but made his presence felt throughout the game when he was on the court. At the moment he looks like more of a 2007 draft prospect until he finds a way to put more bulk on his skinny frame and improve his very shaky ball-handling skills, but hes likely a first-round pick whenever he decides to declare.
J.P. Batista, 6'9, Senior, Power Forward, Gonzaga
20 points, 9 rebounds, 10-18 FG
With Adam Morrison's recent inconsistency from the field, it has been Batista that has stepped up as Gonzaga's go-to guy. He was sensational in the WCC Tourney, and has continued his hot play on the biggest of stages. As undersized and grounded as Batista is, NBA teams are going to give him a long look this spring. Players with his size and effectiveness around the basket don't come along too often, and he will get a chance to prove that he can score on NBA sized big men when its all said and done.
Omar Williams, 69, Senior, SF/PF, George Washington
14 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 5-14 FG, 4-5 FT
Williams has all the physical attributes and then some to make an NBA team this summer. He has good size for a small forward at 6-9, including a very nice frame and some incredibly long arms, as well as outstanding quickness, leaping ability and overall athleticism. He used his strengths to the fullest today, being extremely active on both ends of the court (to the tune of 15 rebounds), taking Shelden Williams off the dribble time after time to try and get him in foul trouble (although the refs were having none of that), and intimidating defensively around the rim. He also looked like the most poised decision maker of any of GWs players today, indeed making some nice passes, playing a season-high 36 minutes and showing solid leadership skills both on and off the floor.
Despite being a college senior he appears to be nowhere near to reaching his full potential as a player at this point, which is a good thing considering that hes still fairly raw overall. His ball-handling could still use some polish and his jump-shot looks shaky at best, only hitting six 3-pointers all year long. The NBA has never shied away from taking a player with the raw attributes they look for at a certain position and trying to develop them on their own. Having the NBDL at their disposal only makes this all the more likely. With that said, it probably wouldnt shock anyone to see Williams get a late invite to Portsmouth to see what he can do in a new setting, as well as get some NBA workouts this summer.
Erroll Knight, 6'6, Senior, Small Forward, Gonzaga
11 points, 4 rebounds, 4-5 FG's, 3-4 FT's
Just looking at Knight's top-tier athleticism, intensity and defensive ability, one would think he would have a chance to be a very successful professional. But aside from the knee issues, he is still a non-factor on offense unless he is finishing at rim level. Perhaps with another standout performance later on in the tournament, Knight can earn a late invite to Portsmouth.
Bobby Jones, 67, Small Forward, Senior, Washington
9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 2-5 FG, 0-2 3P, 5-7 FT
People often say that a player can guard any position on the floor, from 1-5, but rarely do we see this ever happen to way we did tonight. Jones drew the assignment of defending Illinois best player, Dee Brown, to start off the game, a point guard who is 7 inches shorter and significantly faster than him. He did a fantastic job bothering him and disrupting Illinois entire offense, helping his team hold them to 4-25 shooting in the first fifteen minutes of the game, and forcing Brown into possibly the worst stretch of his season. When 6-10 center James Augustine started getting hot it was Jones who was asked to defend him, and again did a terrific job keeping the ball out of his hands.
Offensively it was the same story weve grown accustomed to all year, a short jumper from the post, a lay-up and a couple of missed threes. His ball-handling and perimeter shooting skills arent enough to allow him to do much more, and even if they did, Jones is probably too unselfish to make that happen.
Whether there is a place in the NBA for a player in his mold is a question well only have the answer to in a few months. Logic would say that a player with his attitude and outstanding intangibles would get some serious looks considering what a game changer he can be with his defensive ability, along with the fact that hes shown the ability the hit the open 3-pointer at a good clip in the past, a la Bruce Bowen. Hes the kind of player that could really make some fans for himself amongst NBA executives if he does what he does best at a pre-draft camp or two.
Stock DOWN/NEUTRAL prospects article