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Mavericks NBA Draft Prospects to watch on Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen

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There are still plenty of reasons to tune into the tournament for NBA fans

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Villanova vs Purdue Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

We hope that you, like us, took a few days away to rest your basketball eyes and basketball brains, in preparation for four more days of basketball. If you missed our coverage last week, we’ve posted watch guides for each day of the NCAA Tournament, highlighting future NBA prospects that the Dallas Mavericks should be keeping eyes on.

There are a number of possibilities for the Mavericks in the draft this summer, primarily reliant on whether they keep their lottery pick (top five protected, otherwise headed to the Atlanta Hawks). And while the Mavs seem to be doing their best to secure that pick, we’re scanning all options until then — from the lottery to the second round.

So if you decide to switch over from Dallas-Miami tonight, here are some of the players worth tracking:

Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State)

vs Gonzaga - 6:09 CT, CBS

It’s rare to see in college basketball, but Florida State’s most impactful player comes off the bench. A 6’10 250-pound forward, Kabengele hasn’t started a single game in his two seasons at FSU, but he makes his minutes count. If you watched their match-up with Murray State over the weekend, you could see a shift in the game when the redshirt sophomore hit the floor. He’s long and athletic, using NBA size to attack inside, while also having a nice touch from deep (small sample size, but he’s hitting on 38 percent on 89 three point attempts in college). And while this is just projection, her per-40 averages of 25 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks grab your attention (he’s playing 21 minutes per game this season). His match-up tonight against one of the most exciting players in college basketball should be must-watch TV. Speaking of...

Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga)

vs Florida State - 6:09 CT, CBS

The best player in college basketball not named Zion was a secret for too long, and now there’s no hiding Brandon Clarke. Our own Ian Miller wrote about him at length before the tournament, and our Slack debates have already been filled with imagining Clarke’s fit next to Kristaps Porzingis next season. Clarke will be an undersized NBA big man, but the ideal for the “small ball” era. He’s springy, athletic, and has some of the best instincts defensively and on the boards that you’ll see. Clarke won’t provide outside shooting right now, but he probably will never need to. It will be interesting to see how front office’s see him throughout the draft process because he should probably be a high lottery pick, yet isn’t always projected there. But if he continues to play at this level, he may not give them an option.

Carsen Edwards (Purdue)

vs Tennessee - 6:29 CT, TBS

Edwards is a gamer. He hung 42 points on the defending champions over the weekend, and is the heart and soul of this Purdue squad. The 6’1 200-pound junior plays bigger than his size, partially because he knows how to leverage his body, and also because he’s deceivingly athletic. He’s got a smooth shooting stroke, and has really become a threat to score all over the floor. I hear you yelling at me now that the Mavericks won’t draft Edwards, they already have their point forward in Luka Doncic, as well as a few other undersized guards. To that I say: I agree...but I would have told you the same thing last June.

Matchup to Watch: Jarrett Culver vs. Michigan D

Tonight’s game between Texas Tech and Michigan should be entertaining, but expect a defensive battle. Michigan has a few solid perimeter defenders, and they’ll have the task of shutting down future lottery pick Jarrett Culver. The Tech guard has been a solid 4-of-9 from three in two tournament games, but that’s not where his strength lies. The same can be said of Michigan’s Charles Matthews. These perimeter matchups may dictate the outcome of this game, and could give us some insight on how these players respond to tough defending in a pressure situation.