This week Prospect Watch is going full-on 2011 Finals Dirk, throwing out so much production, carrying you all the way to Selection Sunday. After today you’ll have 15 players to track this week, as they all take on their conference tournaments, to bask in college basketball glory and solidify their spot in this summer’s NBA Draft.
Since the focus here is on conference tournaments this week, a number of important names are missing from each section. The Big Ten held their tournament last weekend, so: lottery talents Jaren Jackson Jr and Miles Bridges, late first-round favorite Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), plus second-round target Mo Wagner (Michigan) all were left out.
In addition, names like Shake Milton of SMU and Bruce Brown of Miami, won’t be found here. Milton has dealt with an injury that has sidelined him for over a month and it’s unclear when he could play next. Brown suffered a season-ending injury back in January. But these players will obviously be in play come June.
Now let’s get watching!
Note: some tip-off times are approximate
Brandon McCoy - C, UNLV
vs Air Force - March 7, 1 CT (Stadium TV)
Possible games: 3/8 vs Nevada 2 CT (CBS Sports), 3/9 8 CT (CBS Sports), 3/10 5 CT (CBS)
It’s not entirely common that a McDonald’s All American opts to go to a mid-major school, although UNLV has a proven history of success. McCoy didn’t enter this season as a marquee name on draft boards like fellow All Americans DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba. Still, McCoy has produced at a high level for most of the season, posting 24 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per-40 minutes. He showed his elite potential back in early December when he put up 33 points and 10 rebounds on 13-of-17 shooting from the floor, up against Ayton.
In the last month of the season he’s had to resort to more volume scoring, and it’s cooled his rise up some draft boards. If McCoy can finish his freshman season strong, and do well in workouts, he may opt to enter the draft. It’s unlikely he gets taken early, but he would be great value in the early second round.
Chimezie Metu - PF/C, USC
vs Washington/Oregon State - March 8, 8 CT (PAC-12 Network)
Possible games: 3/9 10:30 CT (FS1), 3/10 9 CT (FS1)
The junior big man out of USC has been a bit of a puzzle for scouts and analysts. At 6’11, 220 pounds, he has the frame, mobility and raw athleticism that NBA teams are looking for. He hasn’t shot much from the college three in-game, but his stroke looks solid, and he has the potential to stretch the floor in the future. The Trojans have used him a lot as a high screen man, so he’s comfortable moving in the pick and roll and can catch lobs or work in the mid range.
And yet still, he doesn’t have a lot of the polish you’d expect from a three-year post player. When he’s not working at the top of the key setting screens, he doesn’t always establish himself well on the block or give a large target for entry passes. All that being said, he has a ceiling that will make it worth a team’s time in the late first or early second round, especially if he has a standout March like he did in his sophomore year.
Zhaire Smith - SF, Texas Tech
vs Texas/Iowa State - March 8, 6 CT (ESPN/2)
Possible games: 3/9 8 CT (ESPN/2), 3/10 5 CT (ESPN/2)
I’m not sure there’s another freshman in this class that crept up draft boards quite like Zhaire Smith has this season. Most would point to Trae Young for that honor, but the sharpshooting point guard was in the top 20 of 247Sports’ national ranking, and 20th in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI). Smith barely cracked the top 200 in either.
The freshman wing is listed at 6’5, 195 pounds, but he plays much bigger. He’s a hyper athlete, constantly slashing and setting screens on offense and playing above the rim on both ends. With the fluidity in Tech’s offense, Smith comfortably plays 2 through 4, and often operates out of a high screen or on the baseline.
In many ways his slashing and operation in traffic plays like Shawn Marion. The sample size on his outside shot is small, and there is still a lot of unknown, but his instincts and upside are massive on both ends of the floor, with advanced stats projecting a high ceiling for this wing. Tech is poised for a run, and Smith just might be a name we hear called out plenty, which makes it hard to know where to project him in this draft.
Jalen Hudson - SG, Florida
vs Arkansas/South Carolina/Ole Miss - March 9, 8:15 CT (SEC Network)
Possible games: 3/10 2:30 CT (ESPN), 3/11 12 CT (ESPN)
Hudson is finishing up his first season at Florida after transferring from Virginia Tech, where he played two seasons. Because of his lack of opportunity and production at Tech, Hudson is just now coming in to his own. With that growth he’s shown a noticeable spike in production, especially from the three-point line, where he is shooting over 40 percent.
It can be difficult to know where to place Hudson in this draft, considering his up and down college career. He has proven to be a solid scorer this season and has the build and foundation to be a multi-position defender. As the leading scorer on a solid Florida team, Hudson would greatly benefit from a great tournament showing this month. Either way, the athletic wing is worth a second-round flier.
Bonzie Colson - F, Notre Dame
vs Virginia Tech - March 7, 6 CT (ESPN2)
Possible games: 3/8 vs Duke 6 CT (ESPN), 3/9 8 CT (ESPN/2), 3/10 7:30 CT (ESPN)
A four-year player out of Notre Dame, Colson is recognizable to those who watched post-season play last season. An uber productive undersized forward, Colson is a conundrum for some scouts that just look at his measurables. Listed at 6’6 and 225 pounds, but with a Kawhi and Draymond type wingspan (6’11), he comfortably plays in the post on both ends and puts up numbers like he’s five inches taller.
Colson has missed a large chunk of his senior season due to injury, but is back for post season play. He’s appeared in just three games, but in his second game back last week, Colson returned to form putting up 24 points and 15 rebounds while playing 37 minutes. Tournament scheduling can be tough on a player returning major injury. But if Colson can remind scouts and GMs of his experience, basketball IQ and production, he could be a steal in the second round.
Who else are you scouting this week? Let us know down below!