This particular bracket has plenty of NBA draft caliber talent, with Duke and Texas both featuring numerous lottery and 1st round prospects for this year and the future. Tyrus Thomas will be drawing crowds wherever he goes, and other upperclassmen in this bracket have plenty to gain from the exposure they will be seeing here.
Minneapolis Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
Washingotn Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
J.J. Redick, 6-4, shooting guard, senior, (lottery pick)
Possibly the player with more to lose in this tournament than anyone else in any bracket, Redick might have to have one of the best individual NCAA tournaments of all-time to top what he already accomplished during the regular season. Helping his team to an outstanding 30-3 record and an ACC championship, Redick has already cemented himself as one of the most prolific scorers to graze the college basketball landscape in recent memory. For Redick's sake, we can only hope that he didn't peak too early, as he did in previous years. Signs of this were already seen down the stretch, but as we all know, it's a completely different ball-game once we reach the NCAA tournament. NBA scouts already know his game inside-out and upside down, and Redick will have to at least maintain the status quo with his phenomenal shooting and scoring ability to not tank his draft stock just before the NBA draft process kicks into full swing, especially considering the fact that he is not your prototypical workout warrior who can quickly repair it with a few windmill dunks or outstanding one on one matchups to 21.
Shelden Williams, 6-9, senior, PF/C, (lottery pick)
The anchor of Duke's defense, Williams is another player who will simply need to continue to do what he's been doing all season long and get through this tournament without taking too many licks to make sure he maintains the draft positioning he's established after four hard fought years of college basketball. Early on in the tournament especially Williams will be able to give his team a huge advantage in the post by using his strength and rudimentary post skills to score around the basket and get the opposing frontcourt players in foul trouble. Staying out of foul trouble himself, knocking down his free throws and being aggressive defending, rebounding and scoring in one on one situations are things NBA scouts will be looking for out of him, even if this sounds like a mighty task for one player to accomplish.
Josh McRoberts, 6-11, freshman, power forward, (future lottery pick?)
Sean Dockery, 6-2, senior, PG/SG, (undrafted)
Yet another Blue Devil who came out of high school with extremely high expectations and lofty recruiting rankings, Dockery has not developed into the type of presence that most Duke fans hoped when he was initially signed. Injury problems have set him back significantly, taking away a bit of his explosiveness, making him a bit more tentative to attack and always giving another of Duke's stable of McDonalds All-Americans a chance to gnaw away at his spot in the rotation. Mostly known as a defensive specialist at this point, Dockery will likely get his chances to show that his offensive game and playmaking skills are further along than we've seen once the NBA draft process kicks off.
Greg Paulus, 6-2, freshman, point guard, (???)
#8 George Washington
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, 6-9, senior, PF/C (2nd round pick?)
It looks like Mensah-Bonsu will suit up this weekend, a huge boost for a GW team that definitely needs his size and athleticism in the paint. Mensah-Bonsu is superior physically, but has yet to develop a decent enough feel for the game where he would be particularly attractive at the next level. After declaring for the draft last year and not playing particularly well at the Chicago pre-draft camp, we havent seen all that much in terms of improvement in his senior year. Mensah-Bonsu can definitely make a difference in this tournament for the Colonials, and will likely have a chance to go up against Shelden Williams in the second round if his team can get past a pesky Wilmington team. A big performance there would certainly pique the interest of NBA types.
Danilo Pinnock, 6-5, junior, shooting guard (???)
Pinnock may be GW's best draft prospect at the moment, simply because he already has an NBA body and some outstanding athleticism to boot. Pinnock's perimeter game isn't the most polished, but he is capable of a big scoring outburst every now and then. Pinnock has a year left at GW, during which time he must tighten up his ball-handling and outside shooting stroke, as well as his decision making in half-court sets. A nice NCAA Tournament for Pinnock would certainly put him on a short list of players to watch in 2007.
GW is a tough team to scout, because almost everybody on the roster is a unique talent at the college level. Carl Elliot has the size and athleticism to make some noise as a 6-4 senior point guard next year. Mike Hall and Omar Williams are both versatile, athletic contributors. Regis Koundjia is an athletic marvel that is just getting started. Lead guard Maureece Rice is undersized, but perhaps the most explosive player on the team. None of these guys are going to blow you away with their NBA potential at the moment, but all of them are capable having an NCAA Tournament that could generate professional discussion.
Gerry McNamara, 6-2, senior, point guard, (2nd round pick?)
McNamara has improved his draft stock more than anybody in the nation during the conference tournaments, as he lead Syracuse through the Big East Conference Tournament with a set of heroic performances that had the entire country abuzz. Without his clutch performances throughout this tournament, McNamara would probably have a lot less buzz about being drafted. He has a nice assist to turnover ratio, and a good feel for the game, but many people believe he is too small and weak to be a contributor in the NBA. His lack of lateral quickness and strength hurts Gerry the most on the defensive side of the ball. McNamara struggles in half court sets because of his weak first step, and turns the ball over too often as well.
It will be interesting to see if McNamara can continue his play that allowed Syracuse to get into the NCAA tournament. To best help his team, he will need to keep his teammates involved, and keep making cold-blooded clutch shots. It would also help his team greatly and help his draft stock if he could improve his shot selection as well. For all that Gerry lacks in terms of physical attributes and shortcomings in terms of defense, turnovers, and shot selection, he just might make a team like him enough to draft him based on his heart and clutch play. He would be much better suited playing in a role that would not demand as much ball-handling responsibilities out of him.
Terrence Roberts, 6-9, junior, power forward, (???)
To best help Syracuse win the NCAA tournament, Roberts will need to use his quickness near the basket, and try not to do too much himself. Consistency from Roberts will be very important. In big games earlier in the season, Terrences poor play has hurt his team. In the long run, Roberts will be hurt if he doesnt improve his poor basketball IQ, and he must show he can consistently play to his strengths if he wants to play in the NBA someday.
Eric Devendorf, 6-4, freshman, PG/SG (???)
In the NCAA tournament, Devendorf will have to be a consistent scoring threat for the Orangemen, and cut down on his mistakes. He will need to play like an upper-classman if his team wants to make a run in the tournament. Eric could also help himself by showing an improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Devendorf is a very confident player, but he will probably need 3-4 years of college to prove that he can effectively play the point guard position.
Demetris Nichols, 6-8, junior, small forward (???)
In the NCAA Tournament, Demetris can help Syracuse win by playing confidently. He seems to be off when he plays tentatively, so if he comes out and plays every game with confidence, Nichols will be at his best more often. Right now, Demetris Nichols lacks the ability to create his own shot and athleticism that most NBA prospects have, so he could help himself out greatly by becoming a more consistent player.
#12 Texas A&M
Joseph Jones, 6-9, sophomore, PF/C, (???)
For Texas A&M to succeed in the NCAA tournament, Joseph Jones needs to be a big time force in the post. They especially need him to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, as he has done in many wins this season. An area Jones must improve in for A&M to win some tournament games is rebounding. He has only had 5 games this season of double digit rebounds, so if he can find a way to rebound out of his area against a big and fairly athletic Syracuse team, Jones will greatly improve his teams chances of winning. Joseph Jones still has 2 years of eligibility remaining to improve his game, and it will be interesting to see if he can make some improvements to overcome his lack of height and athleticism.
Acie Law, 6-3, junior, PG/SG, (???)
Law can best help Texas A&M during the NCAA tournament with clutch play. He has produced some clutch performances in the past, and the consistent ability to carry the team on his back could lead to a tournament win or two. He also needs to work on his shot selection during the tournament. Law has played a couple games this season where his three point shot just has not fallen, but it didnt stop him from taking too many attempts. If he can improve in those areas, Acie Law will set himself up nicely for some attention throughout his senior season next year.
Tyrus Thomas, 6-9, freshman, power forward (lottery pick)
Thomas is hands down the most athletic big man in this tournament, and his presence inside the paint defensively and on the glass is enough to completely swing the game in his team's favor as many LSU rivals have learned this season. For the Tigers to have any chance of living up to their high seeding and advance to the Sweet 16 and possibly beyond, they will need Thomas healthy, out of foul trouble, assertive on both ends of the floor and not intimidated by the fact that he's a freshman trying to lead a historically underachieving team to a place they haven't been in a long time.
Emphatically insisting that he will be back for at least another season, an excellent run in the tournament behind solid play by Thomas could make him think twice about that decision, especially after seeing what a tough injury feels like mentally and physically with his own eyes. Being bounced early could confirm that notion in his mind. Regardless of what happens, a horde of NBA scouts will be watching his every move.
Glen Davis, 6-8, sophomore, center (future first rounder?)
Darrel Mitchell, 5-11, senior, point guard, (undrafted)
Faced with the unenviable task of handling the point guard position exclusively after three years of playing almost strictly on the wing, Mitchell surpassed all expectations with his play and has easily been LSU's most important player considering their alarming lack of depth at the guard positions, outside shooting, and senior leadership. A coach's son, Mitchell brings consistent scoring and terrific athleticism to the point guard position as well as a natural flair and some of the deadliest perimeter shooting skills in the SEC. Still not a natural playmaker, Mitchell can be prone to streakiness in his ball-handling and decision making skills. Opponents in the first two rounds will almost certainly test his ability to handle the full-court press, and the way Mitchell steps up to the plate will likely determine just how far his team goes in his senior year.
Considering his lack of height and true playmaking ability, Mitchell isn't a great NBA prospect, but will still likely garner a few NBA workouts as well as possibly an invite to one of the pre-draft camps. If things don't work out for him, a nice paycheck in Europe most certainly awaits him.
Steve Burtt, 6-1, senior, PG/SG, (undrafted)
The fifth leading scorer in the country, Steve Burtt Jr. ironically probably isn't even the best scorer in his family, coming in a close 2nd to his father and former NBA player Steve Burtt Sr. A stocky combo guard who can bench over 300 pounds according to his coaches at Iona, Burtt is the type of player who can heat up in a hurry and knock out an unsuspecting team like LSU before they even have the chance to blink. Despite attempting over 7 and a half three pointers per game, Burtt still shoots an impressive 41% from behind the arc while attempting nearly as many free throws per game to boot. Burtt plays mostly off the ball for Iona, concentrating mostly on finding open spots to jack up 3-pointers and bullying his way through the lane with his outstanding strength to create contact and get to the line. Defensively he is as tough as his rock solid build you lead you to believe, moving his feet extremely well and showing no fear of sticking his nose in to take a charge. As a draft prospect, Burtt looks much more like a shooting guard than a natural point, but will have a chance to impress scouts regardless next month after accepting his invite to the all-seniors pre-draft camp at Portsmouth.
Ricky Soliver, 6-3, senior, PG/SG, (undrafted)
The engine that makes Iona go, Soliver is the Gaels' most important player even though he gets very little credit for it even in his own conference. With one of the most well-round stat-lines in this NCAA tournament at 16 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and nearly 3 steals per game, not to mention shooting 44% from behind the arc, Soliver should be the player LSU focuses in on if they wish to slow Iona down and kill any upset hopes they might have early on in the game. Although he starts next to two smaller senior guards in the aforementioned Steve Burtt and Marvin McCullough, Soliver is the one who usually initiates Iona's offense as their playmaker and floor general. A bit of a cross between Alex Scales and Delonte West, Soliver is an excellent rebounder, passer and defender who plays the game with the type of intelligence and aggressiveness that should make NBA scouts take a long look if they want to make sure they aren't missing out on a potential sleeper. His game could use some overall polish to it, but few NCAA guards show the type of all-around stat-stuffing skills that Soliver does. He's a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none at this point, but still looks nowhere near his full potential as a player.
#6 West Virginia
Kevin Pittsnogle, 6-10, senior, power forward (second rounder)
You're an NBA GM. You're always looking for big men with offensive ability. But you're also looking for a sure thing rather than another Nowitzki-clone Euro project. Enter Kevin Pittsnogle. West Virginia's sweet-shooting big man has a lethal stroke from beyond the arc and a big body. He's showed heart, guts and big-game nerves. But he's not athletic and you've rarely seen him score on anyone good with his back to the basket. Now you can see why Pittsnogle's draft status is so murky.
What's not murky is Pittsnogle's importance to his West Virginia team's NCAA chances. Pittsnogle is the Mountaineers' leading scorer and rebounder, despite his penchant for drifting to the perimeter. If West Virginia is to repeat last year's Elite Eight run, Pittsnogle will be at the center (pun intended).
Because of his build and athletic deficiencies, its unlikely Pittsnogle will jump up the draft order even if he is abnormally strong in the NCAAs. As a four-year player, Pittsnogle also is a known commodity. That said, he's big and in the Matt Bullard vein, he's a dead-eye shooter. He's probably playing for a higher second-round slot or even a last three of the first round spot. More pressing to West Virginia, any NCAA hopes rest squarely on Pittsnogle's broad shoulders.
Mike Gansey, 6-4, senior, SG/SF (second rounder)
Another of West Virginia's deceptively talented seniors, Mike Gansey had an unbelievable season for the Mountaineers, joining teammate Kevin Pittsnogle on the All-Big East first team. Gansey is a do-it-all swingman with a strong shooting touch and a knack for finding himself in the middle of the action.
Gansey, who transferred from tiny St. Bonaventure after its program imploded, found a perfect fit in WVU coach John Beilein's three-point heavy offense. Gansey's pro potential may be similarly affected by finding the right team. Athletically, Ganseye can get it done, but won't remind anyone of Kobe Bryant anytime soon. However, Gansey's strengths lie in shooting from deep and filling in the cracks on offense.
Defensively, Gansey surprises. And as the NCAAs approach, that sort of sneaky talent can mean the difference in a close game, as it has several times for West Virginia this season. Gansey is not the only scoring threat for West Virginia, and with a cadre of shooters lurking around the three-point line, he may make his mark doing the dirty work and hitting a clutch shot when he can.
A probable second-round pick, Gansey, like his senior teammate Pittsnogle, is not going to do anything an NBA scout hasn't seen. But he can reinforce his value to a pro team as a shooter, swingman and 'glue guy.' For West Virginia to meet expectations as one of the Big East's best teams, Gansey will have to continue doing what he has his entire WVU career. If his demeanor is any indication, no one would expect anything less.
Jeff Horner, 6-3, senior, point guard (undrafted)
The Hawkeyes are led by senior PG Jeff Horner, and intriguing player with some very impressive characteristics but also a few critical weaknesses. Horner is one of the best open court passers in the college game, probably the best. In some ways, his ability to find teammates on the break is a bit reminiscent of Jason Kidd. Horner plays an opportunistic game, rarely making mistakes but always capitalizing on those of the defense. He has been outstanding down the stretch during Iowa's recent run.
While all this sounds nice, Horner's NBA potential is seriously marginalized by a lack of explosiveness. He doesn't have the bounce in his step to get around NBA point guards, and struggles as a ball-handler in pressure situations for the same reason. Horner is a fantastic spot up shooter, but struggles when forcing to create opportunities for himself from the perimeter. There is little doubting that Jeff Horner is one of the better point guards in the nation at the college level, but the NBA is a different story. A second round matchup against West Virginia would be an optimal place for Horner to shine, but expect him to take his lumps against an athletic Texas team should the Hawkeyes advance that far.
Adam Haluska, 6-5, senior, shooting guard, (2007 2nd rounder?)
Leon Powe, 6-8, sophmore, power forward, (2006/2007 late 1st/early 2nd rounder)
Powe plays in a very methodical offensive system that doesn't give him a chance to show the full extent of his athletic ability, which would do wonders for scouts concerns about his reconstructed knee. His huge numbers on the boards have certainly gotten the attention of game announcers, who have all walked away impressed by his tenacity and ability to let the game come to him.
Still, Powe's overall court game is more subtle than spectacular and the conservative, low scoring Cal offense does him no favors. Powe will need to get at least a couple of tournament games under his belt this year to get the national exposure he needs to garner 1st round attention. Without the buzz created by some big national TV performances Powe will likely be heading back to Berkley unless he doesnt mind being a 2nd round pick, a precarious situation for a 23 year old junior.
DeVon Hardin, 6-11, sophomore, PF/C (future first rounder)
The operative word with Hardin is RAW. Barring some sort of miraculous NCAA performance, expect Hardin to return to Cal next season and continue to work on his post skills. Hardin's main goals this tournament should be to block shots, dunk with ferocity and generally do anything he can as loudly as he can to stick in the back of the scouts minds. Hardin has a ways to go, but seems to be a nice kid and if Coach Braun alters the offensive philosophy a bit, expect Hardin to break out next season with a couple of big time games.
#10 North Carolina State
Cedric Simmons, 6-10, sophomore, center, (future first rounder)
Simmons is still far from being a perfect prospect and needs to find a way to add consistency and plenty of polish to his game. Hes still figuring out what he is capable of doing on the offensive end outside of 5 feet, learning how to use his left hand, staying out of foul trouble, and just being a complete all-around player night in and night out. Being more of a prospect for the 2007 or 2008 draft, there are a lot of reasons to continue to follow him throughout this tournament and see if NC State can manage to tap into his immense potential already in March of 2006.
LaMarcus Aldridge, 6-11, PF/C, sophomore (#1 pick?)
In order for Texas to make it to the Final Four, Lamarcus Aldridge will have to be a dominating presence inside. As a start, he must rebound the ball well. Aldridge averaged 9.4 rebounds per game in wins this year as opposed to 7.5 boards per game in losses, and had single-digit rebounds in 4 out of the 6 Texas losses this season. In addition to rebounding, Aldridge must maintain focus on defense, and avoid foul trouble while doing so. The best thing Aldridge can do to help Texas in the NCAA tournament is develop a mean streak, which would help his game in all aspects. As it is, Aldridge is a very talented player who shows flashes of brilliance and talent. But his performance in the NCAA tournament will say a lot about his character and leadership abilities, and if he utilizes his talent, we could hear Lamarcus Aldridge as the first name read at the draft in June.
Daniel Gibson, 6-2, sophomore, point guard, (future first round pick?)
After surprising many people by leading Texas to the NCAA tournament as a freshman without Lamarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker by his side, winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors for his trouble, most people had high expectations for Daniel Gibson coming into the season. And though he has produced similar numbers to last season, many would consider this a disappointing season for him. Despite the fact that hes had a lot more weapons to work with, Gibsons assist numbers remain exactly the same as last year, and his field goal and three point field goal percentages have both declined. Gibson lacks the court vision and feel for the game you would like to see in a point guard, just not being a very steady floor general in half-court sets especially. Going into the season, many thought Gibson could be a lottery pick in 2006, but now it appears that unless he changes his ways in the NCAA tournament, he would be smart to go back for his junior year at Texas if he wants to avoid slipping into the 2nd round.
To help Texas win the NCAA tournament, Gibson will need to concentrate on becoming more of a playmaker and less of a scorer, especially by understanding the type of offensive power he has around him. If he concentrates on getting other players involved, it will not only improve the rest of the team around him, but it will make the game easier for Gibson by allowing him to take easier shots. In the 6 games this season where Daniel Gibson has had 5 assists or more, the Longhorns have a 6-0 record.
PJ Tucker, 6-5, small forward, junior, (2007 first rounder?)
In the NCAA tournament, Tucker will need to continue to score efficiently if Texas is to go deep in the tournament. He shoots 51% from the field this season, and gets to the line 4 times a game where he shoots 74%. PJ also needs to continue his strong rebounding efforts, and use his length and strength on the defensive end of the ball. The one thing that Tucker could really bring to the table in the tournament that Texas seems to lack is leadership. Though the Longhorns are loaded with talent, they have off games sometimes where nobody seems to take charge and put the team on their back. Of the current Texas players, Tucker seems to be the only one experienced enough with the credibility and persona to take on this role. We expect Tucker to enter the draft when the college season ends, so a good showing is crucial if he wants to have a chance to skip his senior season.
Brad Buckman, 6-8, power forward, senior, (undrafted?)
After a strong showing in 2004-2005, where he averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds, Brad Buckman has been inconsistent throughout his senior season. He missed 4 games due to an ankle injury, and his perimeter shot has been missing for most of the season. Buckman has still been a strong rebounder, and a scrappy player, but to best improve his draft stock he will need to return to his production level from last season throughout the NCAA tournament. Right now, he could very easily go undrafted.
Texas needs Buckman to do a few things consistently if they are to succeed in the NCAA Tournament. The first thing he will need to do is get his perimeter shot falling on a consistent basis. If its going in, his shot will nicely compliment the post games of PJ Tucker and Lamarcus Aldridge. Buckman also needs to stay out of foul trouble, and keep rebounding the ball at a high level. Though he doesnt have the athletic ability that most undersized power forwards have in the NBA, he can work himself into the second round if he can consistently perform throughout the NCAA tournament.