When this much basketball is thrown at you at once, the sheer magnitude (and joy) can be overwhelming. But when your favorite NBA team has taken the form of various garbage piles for the last four months, you begin to look ahead at how they can get better. That’s what we’re doing here at Prospect Watch: helping you look ahead to find your next favorite Maverick.
Yesterday we gave you seven lottery prospects to track this week, as they each take on their conference tournaments. Today we’re serving up parts two and three, first diving into some possible late first rounders; later today, we’ll look at players we’ll see on the board in the second round.
The Mavericks currently have a single first-round draft pick, but as acquiring additional picks or trading back in the first round remain real draft-night possibilities, it’s important to know who the key targets could be if the opportunity presents itself.
Note: some tip-off times are approximate
Khyri Thomas - SG, Creighton University
vs Providence - March 8, 1:30 CT (FS1)
Possible games: 3/9 5:30 CT (FS1), 3/10 5:30 CT (Fox)
You watch for the defense, you stay for the three ball. The junior shooting guard out of Creighton is arguably the best on-ball defender in college basketball. Though Thomas stands at only 6’3, he has a decent frame, listed at 210 pounds. And really, it’s his footwork and length (he has a reported 6’10 wingspan) that allows him to be so stout around the perimeter defensively.
But that’s not all he can do. The junior shooting guard has been consistently solid from three over his college career, even as his volume has gone up, shooting a career 41 percent from deep (this season he’s at a career best, nearly 43 percent). Thomas may not create off the dribble much at the next level, but he can find a variety of ways to score if he’s paired with a playmaker. Like fellow Big East wing Mikal Bridges, he’ll contribute in a variety of ways on both ends.
Chandler Hutchison - SF, Boise State University
vs Utah State/Colorado State - March 8, 8 CT (CBS Sports)
Possible games: 3/9 10:30 CT (CBS Sports), 3/10 5 CT (CBS)
Hutchison, the senior wing out of Boise State, has slowly built his game up over the last four years, particularly his junior and senior seasons when tasked with more responsibility on the floor. Specifically he’s become more reliable as a three-point shooter, though his numbers still aren’t eye popping. Still, Hutchison looks to be a mid-first round selection this summer, with less wing depth in this draft class, paired with his physical growth and improvement off the dribble.
The media recently voted him Mountain West Conference player of the year, and in the months ahead, a player like Hutchison can steal the national spotlight and really solidify their draft position.
Jacob Evans III - SG/SF, University of Cincinnati
vs UConn/SMU - March 9, 11 am CT (ESPN2)
Possible games: 3/10 12 CT (CBS), 3/11 2:30 CT (CBS)
The junior wing out of Cincinnati has been something of a sleeper pick most of the season. We briefly mentioned Evans back in January, and since then he’s continued to lead the Bearcats in scoring, shooting plus-40 percent from deep. He also led the team to a conference title.
He doesn’t have attention-grabbing numbers, but his versatility is what will have GMs’ attention over the next few months. Evans projects to guard all perimeter positions and maybe even small-ball 4s. He’s comfortable in the open court with the ball in his hands, and his shooting stroke from three is solid. Among the top ten in eight statistical categories in the conference, Evans was just named All-AAC First team and is a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award. Keep tabs on him over the next month, as Cincinnati is a solid pick to make a deep tournament run.
Keep your eyes open for this week’s final installment of Prospect Watch, where we throw some names and schedules out for players who will be floating around in the second round!