NCAA Tournament NBA Draft Prospect Guide: Final Four

NCAA Tournament NBA Draft Prospect Guide: Final Four
Mar 31, 2017, 03:29 pm
When do the college prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft take the floor on Saturday for the NCAA Tournament Final Four? What will NBA scouts be looking for?

Note: The numbers listed next to players' names are their current standing in the latest iteration of our Top-100 Prospect Rankings

All Times Listed are EST

6:09 PM - CBS - Phoenix, Arizona
#1 Gonzaga #24 Zach Collins, #70 Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams, Przemek Karnowski
#7 South Carolina#66 Sindarius Thornwell, #68 P.J. Dozier

The top two defenses in college basketball go head to head in what promises to be an outstanding matchup of contrasting styles. Both teams play bigger and more physical lineups without a great deal of outside shooting, which will make things interesting in terms of watching the way both teams' perimeter players are able to navigate the intense defense and lack of spacing we are likely to observe. Gonzaga's half-court offense has been a well-oiled machine all season long, even if they've sputtered at times in the Tournament and have shown their warts of not being the most athletic or creative on the perimeter.

The matchups inside, specifically between European centers Przemek Karnowski and Maik Kotsar, will go a long way in deciding who emerges to the Championship game. Gonzaga pushes the ball inside to Polish big man Karnowski as aggressively as any team in college basketball, knowing that his huge frame, polished footwork and fantastic passing ability will go a long way in finding high percentage shots, either for himself or teammates. Can the Estonian freshman find a way to hold his ground and stay out of foul trouble without the benefit of double teams?

NBA scouts will be paying close attention to SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell, who is likely the MVP of the NCAA Tournament thus far. South Carolina does a great of putting Thornwell in position to score or facilitate with quick actions, be it in the post, coming off screens, with pindowns, in transition, or as a spot-up shooter. Thornwell's huge frame, outstanding feel for the game, much improved perimeter jumper, and tremendous hustle on both ends of the floor have made him incredibly productive all season, but especially in March thus far. His jumper has been falling as consistently as ever, he's been a terror in the open floor, he gets to the free throw line in bundles, and his outstanding rebounding prowess has given South Carolina the ability to utilize him as a deadly face-up 4-man option. Thornwell's average quickness renders him just a decent option in one on one situations, and he lacks a degree of explosiveness which makes him heavily reliant on drawing contact and getting to the free throw line to stay efficient in the half-court.

It will be interesting to see how Gonzaga decides to defend him, as their natural small forward option, Jordan Mathews, will likely be severely overmatched. The bigger, more athletic and highly physical Johnathan Williams is likely better suited to containing the bowling ball wing/combo forward, but that will make for some difficult cross-matches with South Carolina's big men, who showed that they need to be respected in the post.

Another interesting matchup to track will be at the point guard position, between two oversized ball-handlers in P.J. Dozier and Nigel Williams-Goss. Both are NBA prospects who have some real flaws scouts are still coming to grasp with. Dozier is a long and athletic combo guard with a great frame and impressive defensive versatility. He found tremendous success shooting over the top of Florida's diminutive guards, but won't have quite the same advantage with the 6'4 Williams-Goss. Both guards have struggled at times with their perimeter jumpers. Williams-Goss has a lot to gain by showing he can create efficient offense against a physically gifted opponent like Dozier.

8:49 PM - CBS - Phoenix, Arizona
#1 North Carolina #13 Justin Jackson, #52 Tony Bradley, #91 Joel Berry, #93 Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Theo Pinson
#3 Oregon #42 Dillon Brooks, #43 Jordan Bell, Tyler Dorsey

As expected, Kentucky struggled to find a matchup for UNC's Justin Jackson in the Elite Eight, allowing him to score 19 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Oregon will have similar matchup conundrums to consider, as their typical wing options of Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis and Casey Benson are all severely undersized compared with the 6'8 Jackson and his 6'11 wingspan and super versatile offensive game. Scouts would probably like to see Jackson match up with fellow small forward Dillon Brooks, but that's unlikely to materialize due to Oregon's lack of inside depth and the fact that Brooks is mostly used at power forward. It will be interesting to see who Jackson is tasked with slowing down, as Tyler Dorsey has been on an absolute tear offensively as of late and will want to continue his strong momentum before he inevitably enters the draft and leaves Oregon this spring.

Jordan Bell became a household name last weekend with a pair of dominant performances in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. The 22-year old redshirt junior tallied 27 points, 26 rebounds, 5 assists and 10 blocks against Michigan and Kansas, showcasing incredible versatility defensively and boundless energy on both ends of the floor. He'll have a much more difficult matchup with UNC, as burly big man Kennedy Meeks will look to establish his dominance as a post scorer and offensive rebounder early and often. Meeks can carve out deep paint position on lankier big men, and scouts will want to see how Bell is able to handle him, as its a similar test to what he might see on certain nights in the NBA as an undersized center. Bell has been inconsistent at times as a defensive rebounder, but will need to be dominant in this department against the #1 offensive rebounding team in the country for Oregon to have any chance of winning.

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