Now that we are moving to the sweet sixteen, it would be very smart to start taking a look at some of the best draft prospects playing in the last little bit in the college basketball season. This will be a four part series where we, at Heat Waved, take a look at sweet sixteen teams and pick out the top prospects for each region.
Today we start with the Midwest Region.
Mar 14, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Karl-Anthony Towns (12) keeps the ball away from Auburn Tigers center Trayvon Reed (4) during the second half of the semifinals of the SEC Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
1. Karl Anthony-Towns, Kentucky (10.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 BLK)
In my mind Anthony-Towns has proven himself to be the first overall selection in this year’s draft. He already has the NBA body and is a terrific shot blocker. It would be interesting to see where teams would try to play him at because he is probably a better fit at the power forward, but does have the height to play the center position.
Mar 21, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) looks to pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the first half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
2. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (9.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.7 BLK)
WCS is Probably the most athletic center in this draft. He has plenty of upside on the offensive and defensive end, but I’m a little worried about his body frame. In order for him to be dominant in the NBA, WCS will have to bulk up a lot. If taken as a lottery pick, where he is projected to go, I wonder what team would take the chance. A lot of scouts are comparing his playing style to Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, but Noah took a couple years to develop. So whatever team draft Cauley-Stein would probably have to wait a couple more years for his game to fully flourish.
Mar 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) dribbles the ball as Butler Bulldogs guard Alex Barlow (3) defends during the first half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournamentat Consol Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (16.8 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 STL)
I really like this scrappy point guard. Grant has tremendous competitive fire, as well as a killer basketball IQ. Package all that into a 6’5 guard and you have yourself one high-ceiling level talent. Only thing that worries me is his weight. With many guards enjoying into the post now, being able to bulk up in order to go against guys like Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, and Eric Bledsoe will help to improve his draft stock.
Mar 19, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Demetrius Jackson (11) dribbles the ball as Northeastern Huskies guard T.J. Williams (10) defends during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Consol Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
4. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame (12.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.0 APG)
Now whether or not Jackson wants to enter this year’s draft is a story within itself. But Jackson does have great tools set in place to make him a very good point guard for years to come. His frame is small, which puts him at a little bit of a risk, but Jackson is very quick and a great scorer.
Mar 22, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Wichita State Shockers guard Ron Baker (31) controls the ball against Kansas Jayhawks guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) during the second half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
5. Ron Baker, Wichita State (14.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.5 APG)
I wrote a post earlier in the month about potential draft picks for the Phoenix Suns, and Ron Baker is definitely a player the Suns should have on their draft radar. Baker has great size for the two-guard and shoots the ball very well. He plays pretty good on ball defense, but that would be the biggest thing that he would have to work on to improve his draft stock.