The most stacked bracket of all in terms of NBA caliber talent, we find numerous lottery prospects littered around the various teams, particularly with extremely young and talented Memphis and Kansas teams. Adam Morrison, Rodney Carney, Brandon Rush and Ronnie Brewer will be followed the closest, but nearly every game here will feature more than one first round prospect.
Atlanta Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
Minneapolis Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
Washingotn Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
Rodney Carney, 6-7, senior, SG/SF, (lottery pick)
For Memphis to make a run at the final four, Rodney Carney will need to carry the team on offense at times, and continue to play good defense. Somebody with all of the physical tools that Carney has should be a very good defender and rebounder, but is at times lacking in those two areas. His performance in the NCAA tournament will be very important to his draft position in June. If Carney can improve his shot selection, show better focus on both ends of the floor and look to his teammates more, he could see himself in the top 10 when its all said and done.
Darius Washington Jr., 6-2, sophomore, point guard, (future first round pick)
Washington is one of the more talented point guards in the nation, and has had a very up and down sophomore season after falling just short of leading Memphis to the NCAA tournament as a freshman. After a strong start to his season, Washington missed a few games with a deep thigh injury, and was clearly bothered by it in other games even months later. Since he has returned, he has been inconsistent, though he does have the Memphis offense running very smoothly. Washington possesses a nice shooting stroke from the outside, and the ability to get into the lane and take contact while finishing. His quick first step also earns him many trips to the free throw line as well. Darius still needs work on his defense, though he has the physical potential to become a good defender if he can shed some weight off his stocky frame.
For Memphis to win the national championship, Washington must cut down on turnovers, and keep the offense running smoothly. He will also need to show the leadership ability he did last season after Sean Banks was kicked off the team. Darius was instrumental in leading the Tigers to wins in 6 of their last 8 games last season, and if he can do the same during the NCAA tournament, it will greatly improve his draft stock. Darius Washington Jr. has all the tools to become a very good NBA player if he learns to utilize all of his talents properly, and the NCAA tournament would be a great place for this to start.
Shawne Williams, 6-9, freshman, SF/PF, (future first rounder)
After nearly declaring for the draft out of high school and not hearing what he wanted, Williams enrolled in Memphis, and has put together a very nice freshman season for the Tigers. He has a nice all-around game on offense, and is a very unselfish player. Though Williams has a nice looking perimeter shot, it has been wildly inconsistent throughout the season, and his three point field goal percentage will need to improve from 31%. Shawne Williams has great size for the small forward position, and good athleticism to compliment his size. He knows how to use his length and athletic ability on the defensive side of the ball, and was very effective in defending Adam Morrison in the second half of their game against Gonzaga earlier this season.
Williams will need to continue to play lockdown defense for Memphis to advance far in the NCAA tournament. He also needs to be the number 1 scoring option if Rodney Carney and Darius Washington are resting, so he will need to step up and play a larger role than most freshman are asked to on a tournament team. It is no secret that Shawne Williams wants to play in the NBA, and its hard to envision him staying in school past his sophomore season. If he can establish himself during the NCAA tournament by contributing to a Memphis final four run, then he will probably declare in 2006. Otherwise, he will probably come back next year and become the number 1 or 2 option on Memphis while possibly solidifying a spot in the lottery.
Ronnie Brewer, 6-7, junior, PG/SG/SF, (lottery pick)
One of the more naturally talented players in the country with the ball in his hands, Ronnie Brewer is a legit 6-7 point guard with an array of versatile skills on both ends of the floor. The mere fact that hes finally led Arkansas to an NCAA tournament berth should be considered an accomplishment considering the way his team has underachieved over the past few years, but Brewer should not be content with just being here and has a legit chance to possibly even take his extremely talented team on a deep run if they can find a way to click as a unit.
Brewers junior year has been a bit of an up and down affair, being forced to play at the small forward position for too many games and not shooting the ball nearly as well as he had in years past thanks to the increased amount of attention the preseason SEC player of the year received in opposing teams scouting reports. Ever since his coach decided to move him back to his natural position at the point his team has been on an absolute roll, finally being able to get over the hump in close games largely due to the way Brewer has decided to step up in the clutch. For Arkansas to make the type of run many people know they are capable of, Brewer will have to be at his absolute best not just in the 2nd half but throughout the entire game; running his teams offense smoothly, slashing to the hoop and finishing and playing his trademark excellent defense at the top of Stan Heaths intense matchup zone defese.
Carl Krauser, 6-1, senior, point guard, (undrafted)
Occasionally, there are players that come along who are just all grit. Pittsburgh's senior leader Carl Krauser is one of these guys. Not overly athletic nor the most gifted shooter, Krauser nonetheless has had Pitt in the mix nationally for three years. As the floor leader and often times the point man, Krauser is the initiator of a bruising style of half-court offense, and a defensive toughness that melts softer players and teams. He hits clutch shots and loves the ball in his hands in crunch time.
At this stage, the near 25 year old and smallish Krauser doesn't look like a sure-fire draft pick. Instead, he's a guy who does the dirty work and relishes it. The same could be said for his team, as Pitt enters the NCAAs riding a wave of Big East tournament mojo that emanates from Krauser's infectious on-court demeanor. Krauser could play his way into a second-round slot with a stellar draft camp performance, especially if his stock rises with a Pitt NCAA tourney run. And demonstrating that he can handle the ball against bigger and more hyped backcourts could open a few eyes.
More likely, Krauser needs to keep doing what he does best: lead, distribute, play tough-nosed defense and win, baby.
Aaron Gray, 7-0, junior, center (2007 first rounder)
Gray had games of 17 and 20 rebounds this year, and his zeal for bruising play, interior defense and, yes, rebounding has him on the NBA short list. Some of that excitement for a guy whose offense consists mostly of putbacks, dunks, short jumpers and excellent passing ability is based on his rapid improvement. If he can continue to develop, especially on his conditioning, footwork and touch around the basket (a huge reason why he grabs so many offensive rebounds to begin with), Gray can become something special. Quickness and an explosive vertical leap will never be his forte, but at his size there are few players in this NCAA tournament who can keep him away from the basket when he has his mind set on it.
For Pitt in this year's tournament, he already is something special. Critical to the punishing style favored by Coach Jamie Dixon, Gray is equally crucial to the Panthers' tournament hopes. Somewhat disappointing early exits the last few years have left Pitt's players with a bad taste in their mouths. Some outstanding work in the paint from Gray could be a big difference in this season's edition, not to mention what it could do for Mr. Gray's NBA draft future.
#12 Kent State
DeAndre Haynes, 6-1, senior, point guard, (undrafted)
The MAC Player of the Year comes into this years NCAA tournament as a proven floor general, as he has averaged at least 29 minutes per game in each of his four collegiate seasons. Haynes is the leader of a tough Golden Flashes team, and Kent State will go as far as he will take them.
DeAndre is able to do a little bit of everything, scoring when needed and playing set up man in the proper situations. Consistency has been a problem with him this past season, and the Detroit native will look to attempt to convince scouts that he is able to run a team on the next level night in and night out.
Kent State will look for Dre to initiate the offense, get everyone involved, and most importantly lead the team through this tournament. The captain of the team, Haynes is the vocal leader and will need to guide the Golden Flashes plethora of freshman and sophomores that are currently in the rotation with his gritty defense and outside shooting ability.
As it stands now, Haynes is not much of an NBA Draft prospect due to his size and inconsistent play. He is a hoping for an invite to Portsmouth in April, but will still be a nice European player no matter how things work out.
Jay Youngblood, 6-5, senior, shooting guard, (undrafted)
An All-MAC First Team selection, Youngblood has been a pleasant surprise to the Kent State team this year. Although he had a very solid season as a junior, not many expected Jay to have the year that hes had this past season.
At 65, Jay has legitimate size for the shooting guard position at the next level and has the game to back it up. He scores nearly all of his points within the flow of the offense, and is a threat from outside when left open. His smooth game is a pleasure for any fan to watch, but Youngblood is looking to show scouts that he can overcome the inconsistency problems that have hurt him before.
Kent State desperately needs Jay to overcome those problems however, as he and Haynes led the way for the MAC regular season and tournament champions. Like Haynes, Youngblood is hoping for an invite to Portsmouth, and could be a nice player waiting on standby if someone were to cancel or get hurt. The Rockford Community College transfer will definitely be playing basketball somewhere next year however; as he has everything European scouts are looking for in a potential shooting guard.
Julian Wright. 6-8, freshman, SF/PF, (future lottery pick)
Brandon Rush, 6-7, freshman, SG/SF, (2006 lottery pick?)
Mario Chalmers, 6-2, freshman, point guard, (future first rounder)
C.J. Giles, 6-10, sophomore, PF/C, (future first rounder)
Sasha Kaun, 6-10, sophomore, PF/C, (future first rounder)
Patrick O'Bryant. 7-0, sophomore, center, (future lottery pick?)
O'Bryant burst onto the scene this January, after missing the first 8 games of his sophomore season due to an NCAA suspension. The MVC hadn't seen a 7-footer this athletic in years, and there was little teams could do to stop him from dominating. While he remains quite raw, O'Bryant has a decent feel for the game and is a dominant shot blocker. There are still questions about his aggressiveness and approach to the game at times, but O'Bryant will have a chance to answer those against Kansas in the first round. He hasn't gone up against a frontcourt this athletic before, so it will be interesting to see how he fares.
Marcellus Sommerville, 6-7, senior, SF/PF, (undrafted)
Sommerville has been a longtime contributor at Bradley, a tough, post-oriented wing capable of going off for a big scoring night at any time. Sommerville has spotty perimeter skills, and has been able to dominate physically in the MVC for the past several seasons. He will have his work cut out for him against Kansas' stable of athletes, but a big time performance here could get him some consideration for Portsmouth.
Marco Killingsworth, 6-8, senior, PF/C, (undrafted)
The 6-8 senior transfer from Auburn has lived up to every bit of the hype he had coming in, leading the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding this season. Uncoincidentally, in every IU loss with the exception of Duke and Michigan State, Killingsworth has played poorly. Simply put, Indiana will go as far in the dance as Marco Killingsworth carries them.
Scouts will look to see how Killingsworth is able to fare against bigger, more athletic power forwards throughout the tourney. At 68 at best and nearly 270 lbs., he will most likely be required to drop some weight in order to gain some much needed explosiveness to his vertically challenged game. He also has an awfully high amount of turnovers for a big man at 4.0 per game, and will definitely need to work on his decision making when faced with a double team. Most of his points come by simply overpowering players at the basket, a trick that will not work nearly as well in the NBA. At age 24, Killingsworth is no spring chicken at this point either.
These deficiencies aside, Marcos impressive scoring and rebounding numbers immediately make him an interesting player. Scouts have to take a look at a player with his size and crafty inside play as a potential second round pick, and he will surely be able to solidify himself as a draft prospect with a good NCAA tournament.
#11 San Diego State
Marcus Slaughter, 6-8, junior, power forward, (2007 late 1st? rounder?)
One of the top rebounders in the country, the 6-8 Slaughter has very good athletic ability to go along with an NBA small forwards frame. After surprising many by somewhat foolishly declaring for the draft last year and burning his only draft card only as a sophomore, Marcus Slaughter has healed from the foot injury he suffered at the Chicago pre-draft camp and is now showing vast improvement in his junior season. Slaughter has been at the top of rebounding lists all season long thanks to his superb quickness, excellent hands, long arms, tenacious attitude, instincts and much improved motor.
Largely considered a tweener after he declared last season, Slaughter is now starting to move his game out to the perimeter and is making some small, but important strides in this area lately. His ball-handling in particular looks better, being able to lead the break or put the ball on the floor from the perimeter and attack his man. Slaughter has very powerful legs and is able to get to the basket in just two very large strides from the 3-point line thanks to his athleticism, often being sent to the line because of how tough it is for big men to contain him. When properly utilized, Slaughter is one of the toughest players to defend on the west coast because of his all-around versatility at the power forward position. Few can keep up with his combination of strength and athleticism both inside and out, but especially on the glass. His passing ability is much better as well, showing better decision making skills, an improved attitude, and just a better all-around understanding of the game. His assists are way up while the turnovers are down on the year to back this up.
Slaughter is still caught in tweenervile thanks to his lack of shooting range and the fact that his ball-skills are still not NBA small forward caliber, but will likely not (and probably should not for his teams sake) get a chance to show much improvement in this area in the NCAA tournament. Another year of development would serve him extremely well.
Brandon Heath, 6-3, junior, PG/SG, (2007 2nd rounder?)
Adam Morrison. 6-8, junior, small forward, (top 5 pick)
As great as Morrison has been this season - and he's been historically great - you are remembered for what you do in March. Morrison's month hasn't gotten off to a great start, with a couple of uninspiring performances in the WCC tournament. He didn't hit his outside shots, and appeared to care more about working the officials than winning the games. That being said, don't expect this so-so stretch of play to continue in the Tourney. Morrison's ability to make plays in the clutch is unquestioned, and he has always played his best ball in big games. A poor tournament (especially combined with an another early exit for the Zags) would likely hurt his stock, but the people writing off Gonzaga might be counting their chickens before they are hatched.
J.P. Batista. 6-8, senior, PF/C, (undrafted)
Batista is an interesting NBA case, in that there are a lot of things that he does really well. He has mastered the art of sealing his man and finishing with that soft-touch hook from 5 feet. Batista rarely misses anything around the basket, and is simply one of the most fundamentally sound big men you will find in the NCAA. At the same time, there are serious questions as to whether Batista has the height or athleticism to make it in the NBA. He certainly won't be able to overpower defenders the way he does at the college level. Expect Batista to have a great tournament, but his fate will be decided at the pre-draft camps.
Erroll Knight. 6-7, senior, small forward, (undrafted)
Erroll Knight's senior season was supposed to be his chance to shine, but injuries derailed those plans. A chronically bad knee kept Knight off the court for most of the season, and forced Mark Few to play him limited minutes when he did return. Nonetheless, there might not be a player more important to Gonzaga's postseason chances. Knight infuses some much-needed explosiveness and defensive energy into the backcourt rotation, and his athleticism is evident for everybody to see even after the knee problems. Knight was certainly in line for draft consideration headed into the season, and it will be interesting to see if a healthy Knight could make some noise this spring.
Steve Novak, 6-10, senior, SF/PF, (2nd round pick)
Possibly the most dangerous outside shooting threat in the NCAA tournament, Novak has been both extremely prolific as well as incredibly accurate over his four year career at Marquette. Coming off a terrific senior season worthy of All-Big East accolades, Novak's emergence as a legit go-to guy who is finally willing to step up to the plate and take double-digit shot attempts was one of the main reasons the Golden Eagles are returning to the NCAA tournament with a great shot at getting out of the 1st round. With a shooter like Novak it's quite simple; feed him the ball in position to get his deadly shot off early and often and things will work themselves out. If Novak continues to show the willingness to take those shots when his team needs him to, not being passive like he's known to be in the past, his stock will continue to rise as it has throughout the season.
Dominic James, 5-11, freshman, point guard, (???)
Ron Steele, 6-2, sophomore, point guard, (2007 first rounder?)
Jermareo Davidson, 6-10, junior, PF/C, (2007 1st rounder?)
Richard Hendrix, 6-9, freshman, power forward, (???)
Jordan Farmar, 6-2, sophomore, point guard, future first round pick
Farmar has picked up right where he left off last year, showing great court vision, poise and an outstanding feel for the game. Right now he still commits too many turnovers, but hes improving in that area, and his game is more suited to the NBA than college anyway. Farmar is deceptively athletic thanks to an unexpected extra gear and the type of craftiness that allows him to get to the hoop with ease at the college level. His outside shot still needs some work before he makes the jump to the NBA, as does his body. Right now, the weakest aspect of his game is defense. His lateral quickness and positioning need improvement for Farmar to become a capable defender, but his lack of athleticism might hinder him in this aspect.
For UCLA to succeed in the NCAA tournament, they will need Farmar to make good decisions with the ball, and not try to get too fancy with his passing. It would also help his team if he would stop trying to rely on the three point shot so much, and start taking it into the lane more. It doesnt appear that Jordan Farmar will be able to declare for the draft this year, but a solid performance in the NCAA tournament could change things. He has a very bright future playing basketball if he can refine his game and improve his defense and outside shooting.
Arron Afflalo, 6-5, sophomore, shooting guard, (???)
In the NCAA tournament, Arron Afflalo must be the primary scorer from UCLA, and play to his strong mid-range game and use his outside shot just as a compliment to the rest of his game. Also, he could work on drawing more fouls and getting to the free throw line more often, where he shoots over 80%. Arron has the reputation for disappearing at times when things get tough in half-court sets, and if he plays like he did against West Virginia or Washington, we could see an early exit from the Bruins. If he uses his efficient scoring ability and plays aggressively at all times, Afflalo could open a lot of eyes in the NCAA Tournament.
Ryan Hollins, 7-0, senior, power forward, Senior, (undrafted)
Hollins possess excellent size, length and athleticism for a center, and clearly should have accomplished more in his college career than he has considering his natural tools. He really cant create anything for himself on offense, scoring most of his points on put-backs in the lane. Hollins currently lacks bulk, toughness and aggressiveness, and gets pushed around by college centers who are built better than he is. Right now it doesnt appear that there will be any market for Ryan Hollins in the NBA without a great performance in the tournament or pre-draft camps, but if he can improve his hands, add some bulk, and polish his game, theres a chance he could interest a team after a year or two in the minors. If not, theres always a good market for somewhat soft big men in Europe.
Though Hollins missed 6 games this season, hes had some solid performances since returning from his injury. The Bruins will need him to start rebounding the basketball better during the NCAA tournament. Hollins has gone the entire 2005-2006 season without a game where hes had double digit rebounds. He also needs to be able to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble, and hold his position in the lane on both ends of the floor. Despite the fact that Hollins possesses great leaping ability, he doesnt even average a block per game, and he needs to improve his timing when going for the blocked shot. If Ryan Hollins can become a better inside presence for UCLA in the NCAA tournament, it will vastly improve the Bruins chances of making a run at the Final Four.