Last year I had an idea to post a "Sweet Sixteen" primer, and it seemed to be something readers enjoyed. Therefore, I've decided to continue the breakdown of College Basketball/NBA prospects this year...If you are interested in reading last year's primer, click here
I've always considered Draft night as a personal favorite holiday of mine where the two basketball worlds that I love, college and the NBA, come together. I've had a passion for College Basketball since I was eight years old. I was raised in a baseball household, but I fell in love with the game watching guys like Laettner, Hurley, Hill, and the Fab Five.
The NCAA tournament has turned into one of the great sports spectacles in the country. With the second weekend of Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games ahead of us, I thought I would write a primer with 16 prospects in the Sweet 16 to keep an eye on.
What I would really like to see, or at least what I envisioned, is an active comments section within the OPP community about some of these players. How do you think they would fit on the Magic? What is your assessment of their game - strengths & weaknesses? I was hoping this could be the "official un-official" game thread for the rest of the NCAA tournament. Please feel free to leave comments, and enjoy!
Honorable Mention: Perry Ellis (Kansas), Sheldon McClellan (Miami), Danuel House (Texas A & M), Justin Jackson (UNC), Marcus Paige (UNC), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Troy Williams (Indiana), Georges Niang (Iowa St.), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Dillon Brooks (Oregon)
16. Zach Auguste, Notre Dame (6-10 PF/C, 22 years old)
NBA Comparison: Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Ed Davis
Auguste seems to be a pretty polarizing prospect, but I must confess, I really like Zach. I'm not sure why, but he just seems like he fits the ideal role-player at the end of an NBA bench. Versatile enough to play "C" in a small-ball lineup, Auguste seems like he fits what an NBA center looks like heading into the near future.
Auguste recorded over twenty double-doubles this past season, including a 19-22 game in a winning effort against Duke. Auguste is playing his best ball of the season, averaging 13-13 through the first weekend of the NCAA tournament (while shooting just under 85%!!!).
Auguste seemed likely to head off to Europe after his senior season concluded, but he's now on the Second Round radar. If Auguste is not selected in this year's draft, I would be very much in favor of offering Auguste an opportunity to play for Orlando's Summer League team.
15. Jake Layman, Maryland (6-9 Small Forward, 22 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Gordon Hayward (not quite the ball-handling skills), Chandler Parsons (less athletic)
Sorry in advance for the lazy white guy type-casted comparisons I went with for Layman. I'm not sure he will ever be as productive of a player in the NBA as Hayward or Parsons, but (at least for Parsons) I see him possibly serving a similar role. Layman can stroke it for a forward, I've always been intrigued by his game since his sophomore year. He's got NBA size and ability, the only question is where he will be selected next June?
Layman showed what he can bring to the table in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, hitting five 3's and connecting on 8-8 FTA's en route to 27 points. Yet Layman has gone for over 20 only one other time in his senior year, and that game came in March as well. He's just not an alpha dog, he doesn't take a lot of shots. He's not prolific at any one thing, he's just a complimentary player. Layman is projected by Draft Express to be a second round pick. Orlando holds two 2nd round picks in the 2016 draft, so far now, it seems that Layman could be a prospect Orlando takes a look at.
14. Monte Morris, Iowa St. (6-3 Point Guard, 20 years old)
NBA Comparison: Chris Paul (Poor Man's Chris Paul, good shooter - but not quite as efficient as Paul), Deron Williams (much lighter, but similar production)
Man, have I fallen in love with this kid. If you haven't done so, I highly recommend watching some tape of this young man, there are plenty of highlight videos featuring Morris on YouTube. I realize that the game of basketball is more than just YouTube highlights; Morris does the little things as well. Morris's nearly 7:2 A/TO ratio is the best in the DX database out of players expected to be drafted, slightly edging out Kentucky All-American Tyler Ulis. In fact, if you compare Morris and Ulis's numbers side-by-side, they are nearly identical, if not slightly in favor of Monte Morris. (Morris owns better shooting percentages and has accumulated slightly more steals).
Morris has started for three seasons for the Cyclones, helping them navigate through arguably the toughest conference in America. Morris has accumulated six double-doubles, including a 20-10 game this past season against Baylor. Morris went for 20 while dishing out 8 assists in Iowa State's 1st round game against Iona.
Draft Express currently lists Mont Morris as a Second Round prospect. He's only a junior, so there's no guarantee he will come out and enter the draft. But if he does, I think a team will be getting an absolute steal in Monte Morris if he's drafted anywhere in the Second Round. The Magic currently hold two 2nd round picks; if Monte Morris is available when Orlando selects in the Second Round, there's a very good chance he could be a selection.
13. Wayne Selden, Kansas (6-5 Shooting Guard, 21 years old)
NBA Comparisons: CJ Wilcox, Wayne Ellington (a little more athletic)
It's really difficult to fully understand what Selden is capable of on the court, he's always been surrounded at Kansas by a lot of talent (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, etc.). There have always been flashes, just not a lot of consistency. Selden scored 33 against Kentucky, 25 against Vanderbilt, 24 against Baylor, and 21 points in a classic game against Oklahoma this year. Yet, he also mixed in some duds this season (3 pts against TCU, 6 points @ OU, 3 points vs. Texas Tech). Selden has improved his game in his junior season, he just finished the 2015-16 campaign shooting over 40% from 3PT.
Because he does a lot of things pretty good, but nothing really well, Selden seems ticketed as a Second Round selection, that is if he declares for the NBA Draft (he's only a junior). Unless something unforeseen should occur, I don't see a situation in which Orlando would select Selden in the 2nd round of this year's NBA Draft.
12. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin (6-8 Power Forward, 21 years old)
NBA Comparison: Paul Millsap
Draymond Green is the sexy comparison around the Internet for Nigel Hayes, but Green is such a rare breed, I hate putting that on any prospect. Hayes does exemplify what the NBA seems to be heading towards, position-less basketball. 6-8 doesn't scream Power Forward, but his 7-4 wingspan more than makes up for a lacking couple of inches of height. Because of the system Wisconsin runs, it's really hard analyzing anyone who plays for the Badgers. Their pace is like watching paint dry, especially without Kaminsky and Dekker this season. I'm not crazy about Nigel's shooting numbers, but his status as an NBA prospect is solid within the scouting community nonetheless. Hayes is mocked as a late first/second round pick in 2016. Keep in mind, Hayes is a junior, so he would have to declare. Due to a possible lack of depth in Orlando's frontcourt next season, Hayes would make sense. However, I don't think anything he could do moving forward in the NCAA Tournament would vault his stock into the lottery.
11. Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia (6-5 Shooting Guard, 23 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Keith Bogans (slightly better shooter though), Jeremy Lamb (better defender than Lamb), Jason Richardson (not as athletic though)
It seems like Brogdon has literally been around forever. I wonder how much his age (he will be 24 in December) will hurt his draft stock. The ACC Player of the Year is a proven commodity, he connected on 74 3's this past season, at a clip of over 40%. Brogdon went for 20+ points eighteen different times in 2015-16. Brogdon is also an excellent defender, something he (and the entire Virginia roster) takes a lot of pride in. I really gained a lot of respect for Brogdon last season when he stepped his game up and carried Virginia the second half of last season after fellow wing and 1st-round pick Justin Anderson went down with an injury.
From what I can tell, Brogdon seems to be a very cerebral and high character type prospect. He seems destined to be picked in the Second Round, but he does possess one (possibly even two) proven NBA skill(s). I don't think Brogdon will have a problem getting on an NBA roster after a strong showing in the Summer League. I'm not sure Brogdon would be on Orlando's radar as a possible Second Round selection, but if he happens to go undrafted, I would certainly be pleased to have Brogdon play for Orlando on their Summer League team.
10. Cheick Diallo, Kansas (6-9 Power Forward, 19 years old)
NBA Comparison: Clint Capela
The 7-4 wingspan is there, I'm just not sure Cheick's game is quite ready for the NBA just yet. As you may know, Diallo had some eligibility issues which caused him to miss some games early in the season (and ultimately put him behind throughout his freshmen season). I'm not sure if the young man originally from Mali will declare for the draft this season or not. He may be best served to come back to Lawrence for one more season to showcase what all he can do. But if he makes the decision to jump to the NBA, I'm sure he will have his reasons. There just isn't a lot of tape on him at the college level that showcases his skills at this time (he averaged roughly 3 points and 3 rebounds this year, only 7.5 MPG). Draft Express still ranks Diallo in the top-50 of their database based off of his potential alone. Will he get an opportunity in this tournament to have a shining moment?
9. Melo Trimble, Maryland (6-3 Point Guard, 20 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Jarrett Jack, Ramon Sessions
During his time at College Park, Trimble has seemed to be in constant transformation. Trimble serves as the definition of a ball-dominant lead guard, but I see him making honest efforts to try and become a point guard at the next level. Trimble can be maddeningly inefficient at times, but he really has an acumen at getting to the free-throw line. Trimble has paraded to the charity stripe 10 times or more in a game six times this season, including 14 attempts in the Second Round matchup against Hawaii. I would be very concerned as an NBA scout about Trimble's decision-making, he turned the ball over 4 or more times eight times this season. I also think he will struggle mightily defending at the next level, he has a shockingly unimpressive wingspan.
Trimble is only a sophomore, so there's no guarantee he will declare. But if Maryland makes a deep run, he may come out early; Trimble is currently mocked as a late-first/early-second round pick. Unless something unforeseen should occur, I don't see a situation in which Orlando would select Melo Trimble.
8. Brice Johnson, North Carolina (6-9 PF, 21 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Tristan Thompson, Taj Gibson (not as prolific of a shot-blocker though)
You want production? How about twenty double-doubles this past season, including six 20-10 games and one monster 39-23 game @ FSU. Johnson is currently being mocked somewhere in the 25-35 range, and for the life of me I don't understand how?
Johnson has improved in every facet of his game every year he's been enrolled at Chapel Hill. This past season, even though he logged less than 30 MPG, he averaged a double-double (17-10.5). Johnson is the top rebounder per/40 minutes in DX's database amongst prospects expected to be drafted. That one plus-skill will surely play in the NBA as well.
A deep run in the tournament by the Heels could be exactly what Brice needs to continue to showcase his skills. Johnson won't be able to make up enough ground to be selected by Orlando in the lottery, and I doubt he would still be on the board when they draft in the Second Round. Therefore, unless something unforeseen should occur, I doubt Brice Johnson will be playing in pinstripes next season.
7. Thomas Bryant, Indiana (6-10 PF/C, 18 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Elton Brand (at this point in both of their development), Larry Sanders (measurements, but not nearly the shot-blocker Sanders was)
Holy wingspan Batman (7-6), Bryant possesses the longest wingspan of any current prospect listed in the DX database. He's growing too! His measurements a couple of years ago listed him at around 6-8/6-9 with shoes, and now he stands at 6-10/6-11.
Bryant is very raw, but certainly looks the part in the games I've watched Indiana play. I think he still needs to develop a back-to-the-basket game, like pretty much every teenager needs to. He tends to float away from the basket too often, but he can make a mid-range jumper pretty consistently. Watching the NCAA tournament, you could see Bryant's potential (and touch from the FT line) in the second half against Kentucky.
Foul trouble seemed to plague Bryant quite often this past season, he only got 22 minutes of run per game. He's not the plus rebounder or prolific shot blocker you would expect out of an athlete like Bryant. I'm not sure if he will go ahead and declare for the draft this year, or wait until after his sophomore season. Draft Express currently mocks Bryant as a 1st round pick in the 2017 draft. We will see....
6. Grayson Allen, Duke (6-4 Shooting Guard, 20 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Bob Sura (better shooter though), Shannon Brown
The former McDonald's All-American burst onto the national scene last year, memorably scoring 16 points off the bench in the National Championship game. I was really interested to see how Grayson Allen would respond this season as one of the main focal points in Duke's offense, and he didn't disappoint in the least.
Because he's white, and plays for Duke, I think Grayson gets type-casted at times as just another Duke shooter. Yes, he can certainly do that (over 40% from 3PT this season), but I think Allen's above-average athleticism is often overlooked. His ability to play in transition and above the rim will serve him well at the next level. I just think Allen has solid overall ball-skills. For playing 36 MPG this past season, Allen only turned the ball over twice per game (often playing out of position due to a lack of a PG on Duke's roster) - that's not bad.
Allen has connected on 4 or more 3PT's ten different occasions this season and has marched to the charity stripe for 10 or more attempts in a contest on eight separate occasions. Allen got to the free-throw line seventeen times in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and he knocked down five 3PT's in the second round against Yale (currently averaging 26 PPG in the tournament).
I'm sure NBA teams will look into Allen's tripping incident, but I'm not sure there's much to it. Allen is a little immature at the moment; he's just an unharnessed prospect. But certainly an intriguing prospect nonetheless. Allen is currently projected by Draft Express to be a late 1st round selection. I can easily see his stock improve with another tournament run, but probably not enough to be in the range of where Orlando will select. Unless something unforeseen should occur, I don't see a situation where the Magic would select Grayson Allen this June.
5. Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga (6-11 PF/C, 20 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Chris Bosh (College numbers and measurables are pretty spot on), Mitch McGary (with a much higher upside)
I'm not sure if there's a prospect that can do more for his draft stock this March than Sabonis. Domantas is coming off of a signature performance against Utah in which he was matched-up against top Utah prospect Jakob Poeltl. Sabonis easily got the better of that match-up, and is looking to parlay his solid sophomore campaign into an NBA 1st round draft selection. Draft Experts has Sabonis slotted as a late First Round pick, but I'm thinking that his upside will push Domantas a bit higher than that.
Sabonis has recorded twenty-two double-doubles in 2015-16, including seven 20-10 games & two 30-10 games. Sabonis even grabbed 20+ rebounds in a contest in January against Pacific.
The one knock I would attribute to Sabonis's game is that he doesn't block a lot of shots. Don't get me wrong, he is a fine post-defender, he's just not an eraser. This very reason may cast a bit of hesitation for Magic fans when discussing the prospects of Sabonis in pinstripes (because of Nik Vucevic). With that being said, I still think there's a chance the Magic would give Sabonis a look in this year's draft. He's got the lineage, and I think there's a decent chance he will be available to be taken when Orlando is on the clock.
4. Diamond Stone, Maryland (6-10 Center, 19 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Zach Randolph (less prolific of a rebounder), Al Jefferson
Stone is uber inconsistent at the moment. I think that comes with the territory sometimes when you're talking teenage big-men. Still, you would hope someone with the physical tools that Diamond Stone possesses would be more productive, he's posted four double-doubles thus far in 2015-16. When he's at his best, which he was against Penn St. when he went for 39-12, scouts must drool over his potential.
Due to foul trouble, Stone has been somewhat of a no-show so far in the NCAA tournament. Stone is slated to be a 1st round selection at worst, and possibly a lottery pick. How far the Terrapins make a run in the tournament may have a lot to do with if Diamond Stone declares and where he is selected. With Jason Smith, Andrew Nicholson, Dewayne Dedmon, and possibly Ersan Ilyasova coming off the books, Orlando will probably be in the market for frontcourt depth. Due to this fact, Diamond Stone could very possibly be a young prospect the Magic choose to take a flyer on.
3. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame (6-1 Point Guard, 21 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Eric Bledsoe, Kyle Lowry
Eric Bledsoe as a comparison for Demetrius Jackson is pretty spot on if you've never seen him play. I must admit, I wasn't a fan of Jackson when I saw him play his freshmen and sophomore years (which I did often, because I was a fan of Jerian Grant). I thought he often put his head down and forced the issue; he was too frequently out of control. This year he has improved his decision-making, his basketball IQ seems to be ready for the next level. Not to mention, his acumen behind the arc has greatly improved.
I feel Jackson's best basketball is still ahead of him. Demetrius is plenty athletic enough to excel at the next level. He currently is slotted to be selected anywhere from 10-15 in the 1st round, and that status could improve considering the lack of depth in the class at the lead guard position. I realize Orlando already has three PG's on the roster under contract heading into 2016-17, but Napier (and probably Watson) could be easily unloaded if need be. Considering where Jackson is expected to be picked, as well as where Orlando is likely to be selecting from, he very well could be a guard the Magic take in this June's NBA Draft.
2. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (6-4 Shooting Guard, 22 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Reggie Miller (not as long however), CJ McCollum
Such a great story, such a great example of what can happen to a player that stays for four years in college. Staying through a player's senior year isn't best for everyone in all situations, but it sure has worked out for Hield. Ben Simmons aside, College Basketball was missing the freshmen star-power it has been blessed with in recent years past (Okafor, Wiggins, Russell, Embiid, Towns, etc.). Well, Hield stole the show on the national stage this year, and will most likely be selected as the National Player of the Year. Hield just missed posting the vaunted 50-40-90 shooting percentages that all shooters dream about this past season (49%-46%-89%).
Hield has incredibly scored over 30 points eleven times in 2015-16, highlighted by a 46 point effort in an all-time classic against Kansas (in which he hit 8 3's). Hield had a second half for the ages against VCU, and now heads into the Sweet Sixteen averaging over 30 PPG for the tournament.
Hield's status has been cemented all season as a lottery pick, but where he will be selected within the lottery has always been in doubt. At the moment, his stock is only going up. The Magic will have Oladipo and Hezonja under contract heading into 2016-17, and quite possibly Evan Fournier as well. Hield would be a nice consolation prize if Fournier doesn't resign with Orlando, but the Magic wouldn't know if that would be the case or not in June. For that reason, I don't think it's likely that Orlando takes Hield in this year's draft (darn).
1. Brandon Ingram, Duke (6-10 Small Forward, 19 years old)
NBA Comparisons: Andrew Wiggins (not quite the athlete - but longer, better shooter), Paul George (but longer, similar shooter)
Because of their similar skinny frames, Ingram often gets compared to Mr. Kevin Durant. I did not choose to make that comparison; it's just not fair. I think people forget just how dominant Durant was in his one year in Austin, he attempted over 20 shots per game and scored nearly 30 PPG per/40 minutes. I don't think Ingram is that kind of alpha dog, at least not yet. However, this year's version of Duke's "one-and-done" stellar freshmen is the top NBA prospect remaining in the NCAA tournament.
I think that it's pretty remarkable at his age that Ingram played nearly 35 MPG, yet only turned the ball over twice per contest. I'm very intrigued that he was able to shoot over 40% from behind the arc (at his size, even more intriguing), but I'm puzzled at the same time that he seemed to struggle at the FT line (67%, very pedestrian).
Ingram has scored 20 or more points thirteen times in 2015-16 and has recorded a double-double on eight different occasions. Ingram is averaging just under 23 PPG in this year's NCAA tournament and has found a way to get to the FT line ten times in both contests thus far.
I like Ingram's game, there's nothing really not to like. He does a lot of things well, I'm just not sure there's anything he does exceptionally well at this juncture, other than maybe his acumen shooting the basketball (and handling it) for his size. I would be a bit concerned about his ability to put on weight, but not overly concerned. Ingram's status is cemented as a top-3 pick in this year's draft, which will occur well before Orlando selects. Unless something unforeseen should occur (like a very lucky bounce of a certain ping-pong ball), I don't see a situation where the Magic would be selecting with Ingram still on the board.