LaMarcus Aldridge bounced back to deliver a performance worthy of consideration for the #1 pick. Tyrus Thomas' defensive explosion makes you wonder if there is any player with more upside at the NCAA level. Shelden Williams again showed why he might be the most surefire bet of any player in this draft. J.J. Redick comes up with possibly the worst game of his college career at the worst time possible for him and his team. Those and much more in our fifth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.
Round of 32, Sunday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Up prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
LaMarcus Aldridge, 611, Sophomore, PF/C, Texas
26 points, 13 rebounds, 11-15 FG, 4-8 FT, 2 assists
Aldridge started the game by asserting his position in the paint and making a beautiful pass to an open PJ Tucker for the layup. He continued by putting on a mid-range shooting clinic, making a variety of impressive jump shots from about 15 feet out both on the move or from static positions. Some of these shots were off balance turnarounds where Aldridge just sensed where the defense was and turned and shot the other way. He finished the first half a perfect 8 for 8 from the field with 16 points. Aldridge continued his impressive display in the second half, despite the fact that West Virginia was much more keyed in on stopping him. He fought hard for position and made some good passes out of double teams to the open guard on the perimeter, a skill that will certainly help him when he is playing in the NBA. Down the stretch, with the game close the whole way, Aldridge called for the ball every time, and managed to score off of putbacks, jumpers, layups and hard fought offensive rebounds. Aldridge did nearly everything the Longhorns could have asked from him in the biggest game of his young career so far.
Though he had a great overall game, Aldridge did miss half of his free throws, including one with 14 seconds left that would have iced the game for good. Though he struggles at times from the free throw line (65% this season), Aldridge has a very nice shot from mid-range, so theres no reason why this part of his game shouldnt improve.
Against West Virginia, Lamarcus Aldridge had the type of big game that players need to have to warrant consideration as the top pick in the draft. He displayed his plethora of moves on offense, as well as outstanding rebounding potential. To lock up the position as the top pick in the draft, Aldridge will need to continue to play big in the remaining games of the NCAA Tournament.
Tyrus Thomas, 69, Freshman, Power Forward, LSU
9 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 fouls, 3-5 FG, 3-6 FT, 25 minutes
Thomas was a dominant force defensively and on the glass, making every single one of Dukes players question themselves when they entered the paint and coming up huge for his team offensively down the stretch despite playing much of the way with 4 fouls.
Every single one of his 5 blocks were absolutely spectacular, made possible not just with his outrageous leaping ability but also by his fantastic shot-blocking instincts, timing and outstanding motor. When he wasnt coming up with a block he was instead altering anything within a 12 foot radius of the hoop, as he covers an amazing amount of ground incredibly quick. Thomas was studying and learning Shelden Williams tendencies and shot-fakes on the fly to get the better of the All-American on a number of occasions, sparking his team to an improbable victory with sheer heart, determination, and once again if it wasnt clear, an uncanny amount of athletic ability. His defense extended beyond his shot-blocking ability, though, stepping out on screens to help his teammates out (especially on J.J. Redick) and coming up with a number of huge rebounds that gave his team a massive shot in the arm.
He did all this battling foul trouble for much of the contest, picking up his 2nd foul with 8 minutes to go in the first half which sat him until the start of the second, his third foul with 18 minutes to go and his fourth with over 12 minutes left in the game. That didnt stop him from making two incredible plays in the last minute that essentially won the game for his team, though, first handling the ball in the open floor for a massive dunk in transition and then closing out on Greg Paulus on Dukes next possession down the floor for his fifth and possibly most spectacular block to seal the deal for LSU. The passion he showed after that told us all we need to know about his heart and what it meant for him to help his team out this way.
It wasnt a flawless game for Thomas, though. His first field goal came with 7 minutes left in the contest, and his offense looked about as raw as can be outside of the alleyoops and putbacks on offensive rebounds that he converted. Hes probably still a good 15-20 pounds away from making an impact in the NBA, but with the upside he showed it seems like its going to be awfully hard for him to slip out of the lottery this year if he indeed decides to declare. And every win makes that all the more likely as the country gets more familiar with his name and the price of his shoe deal rises exponentially.
Shelden Williams, 69, Senior, Power Forward/Center, Duke
23 points, 13 rebounds (8 offensive), 4 blocks, 4 turnovers, 8-18 FG, 7-8 FT
On the defensive end, Williams played strong man and team defense. There werent many occasions when someone scored on Williams in the post, let alone even tried to. Williams also had quite a few blocks and other weakside-help stops. Whether he was making a rotation down low or stepping up to help on the perimeter, Williams was making his presence felt. Williams was also very consistent with boxing out on both ends of the floor, rarely letting his man get a chance at a rebound.
Just as impressive as any aspect of Williams game has to be his overall feel for the game. Williams plays within himself, understands his strengths and weaknesses, and just plays intelligently in every aspect of the game. He recognizes double teams very well and knows how to handle them accordingly. He has excellent weakside awareness and almost always makes the proper rotation. As evidenced tonight, he knows how to adjust his methods of post scoring to be most effective against his opponent. There were very few negatives for Williams on the night, and the only things that really stood out were two traveling violations in the post, though both were of questionable veracity from my viewpoint.
Williams is a senior and will thus be entering the NBA draft this summer. He will undoubtedly be a lottery pick and should be able to contribute for his team from day one. Hes somewhat of a known commodity at this point, with most of his game being developed through his four years at Duke. There isnt much more upside for Williams, but he should be a steady contributor for a long time in the NBA.
Rodney Carney, 67, Senior, SG/SF, Memphis
23 points, 7-12 FG, 7-8 FT, 4 rebounds
Though he didnt score a point in the first 7 minutes and 26 seconds of the game, Carney came to life with a thunderous dunk at the 12:34 mark in the first half. From there, he mixed things up impressively with a display of three point shooting and athletic ability. After sinking a three, Carney used the threat of the three point shot on the next possession to get his defender in the air and take the ball hard to the hoop where he was fouled. He continued to use his explosiveness both in transition and in half courts set to get to the line 8 times, where he converted all but one of his free throws. A few of Carneys dunks left the crowd awe-struck at how far away from the hoop he took off. This certainly would have been a memorable game for Rodney at any point in his college career, but it makes it even more impressive that he did it in the NCAA tournament.
If Rodney Carney performed every night like he did against Bradley, we would probably be talking about a player who would get consideration for being the top overall pick. In the past, Carney has struggled at times when things havent gone his way early in the game, and though he missed his first two shots, he still kept his composure. Though he has been criticized for his defense in the past, Rodney played above average defense against the Braves. He is a potentially great defender due to his physical gifts, and will likely continue his improvement in this area at the next level. In the past, Carney has sometimes had the reputation of killing the flow of the offense, especially on his off nights, but tonight all of his shots were perfectly in rhythm with the team, and he didnt take even one bad shot. If Carney can reproduce this performance in the next round of the NCAA tournament and help Memphis reach the final four, he will probably make a lot of NBA teams in the top 10 think long and hard about passing on him.
Jordan Farmar, 6-2, Sophomore, Point Guard, UCLA
15 points, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, 5-13 FG, 3-9 3P
Farmar and UCLA could not have started off any worse, not hitting a single field goal in the first 9 minutes of the game, committing 7 turnovers in that span (with only one belonging to Farmar) and looking completely out of sync on their way to a 17 point deficit in the first half. Gonzaga threw a variety of different defenses at UCLA, including a terrific zone that threw them completely out of their rhythm and had Farmar struggling badly to settle his team down and get them into their offense. Farmar showed little in the ways of leadership skills in these minutes, not making too many mistakes himself but also not taking any ownership of the team that hes had such a huge part in leading to the Sweet 16. His first points of the game, a deep 3-pointer with 10:50 to go was also UCLAs first field goal of the game. He slowly helped UCLA chip into the lead, scoring 5 more points in the half and moving the ball around better but still seeing his team finish the half shooting only 26% from the field.
The 2nd half saw UCLA dig in defensively and cut down the deficit behind the strong playmaking skills of their point guard Farmar. Over the last 30 minutes of the game, UCLA committed only 3 turnovers the rest of the way after their horrid start. His defense on Derek Raivio slowed down Gonzaga significantly, forcing him into numerous bad decisions and putting them in a situation to get the deficit into a workable margin with just a few minutes remaining. Together with fantastic freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who scored 6 of the teams final 11 points, Farmar and UCLA provided one of the best finishes weve seen in the past few years to knock off Gonzaga and advance to the Elite Eight.
Farmar hit an extremely tough floater from the baseline with 51 seconds left in the game to pull the game within 3 and then played outstanding defense on Adam Morrison to force him into missing a shot that he would usually make in his sleep. With UCLA down by 1 with 10 seconds left and looking to foul, Farmar instead helped trap J.P. Batista on the baseline after an in-bounds pass and stole the ball from him. He showed his poise by maintaining his balance and delivering a tough pass right underneath the basket to a cutting Mbah a Moute for the go-ahead basket to cap off an amazing win.
This was far from the best performance of his college career so far, but all that matters is his team won. UCLA is back in the Elite Eight and Farmar will match up again with Memphis and fellow sophomore point guard Darius Washington on Saturday.
Darius Washington Jr., 62, Sophomore, Point Guard, Memphis
18 points, 8-14 FG, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers
Against Bradley, Washington displayed an impressive ability to read the defense and take what they give him. This was evident when he drove into the lane, and made the right decision about where to drive to and how to finish. He also pushed the ball in transition, using his impressive open court speed to get the ball into the front court, and dump it off to his teammates, who finish well in traffic. A couple of times Darius left himself in the lane with no place to go leading to a couple turnovers, but this is the type of aggressiveness that Coach Calipari surely will take.
Darius Washington Jr. told DraftExpress in the past that hes not a lock to declare for the draft by any means, and that he would only decide to do so if he had a successful NCAA tournament. If he can continue to play like he did against Bradley and lead Memphis to a final four berth and potentially even a national championship, Washington would have all the accolades he needs to declare. He has a nice combination of perimeter shooting ability and athleticism, and knows how to finish from anywhere in the lane. In addition, Darius has the Tigers offense running very smoothly, though it isnt the best offense for a point guard to be padding assist numbers in. If he can show consistency running his team and improved defense throughout the rest of the tournament, Darius Washington Jr. has all the tools to become a lottery pick after he shows teams what he can do in private workouts.
Adam Morrison. 68, Senior, Small Forward, Gonzaga
24 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 10-17 FG, 3-4 FT, 1-4 3P
Morrisons usual impressive array of offense was on display, to go along with some things we dont normally see from him. Perhaps in a continuation of his previous game, Morrison had an improved commitment on defense and the boards, being more aggressive than usual on both fronts. There were still a fair share of plays that Morrison took off, but he was trying more than usual. On the offensive end, Morrison was excellent without the ball, putting himself in position for many cuts that led to floaters and lay-ins. He also had some strong drives off the dribble, making a few lay-ins as well as some nice pass outs to the open man. Morrison handled double teams well, making the appropriate pass outs when necessary. He did force a few off-balanced fadeaway jumpers, but with his open looks coming so few and far between, and him shooting 10-for-17 from the field, you really cant complain about that.
Morrisons passion was as evident as ever tonight, unfortunately hitting its peak as Morrison lay sobbing on the floor moments after the game was over. Morrison has nothing to be ashamed about, though. He left absolutely no doubt about who the best collegiate player in the country was, and hell have plenty more chances at game-winners in his future. Projected as a top-five pick with a chance to go number one in the draft, most of Morrisons career is still in front of him. There is much debate over how Morrisons success will translate to the NBA, but you can bet your money hes already looking forward to the challenge.
PJ Tucker, 65, Junior, Small Forward, Texas
15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 turnovers, 5-9 FG, 5-6 FT
The one area Tucker could really improve is his defense against smaller and quicker players. He had some trouble staying in front of his shooting guard sized matchups at times tonight, which led to some fouls that could have been avoided. He can best improve in this area by using his length to better aid him in playing defense, because he cant use his power against quickness on the defensive side of the ball as much as he would in the post. Though Tucker had a good game, its gotten to the point that this is what is expected of him now, and what hes been doing all season long consistently. It will be interesting to see how the last games of the NCAA tournament play out for P.J. Tucker before he enters his name in the draft.
Glen Davis, 68, Sophomore, Center, LSU
14 points, 5 rebounds, 3-12 FG, 8-13 FT, 27 minutes
Davis started off the game the way he should have continued it all game long, by going down into the post and scoring with his jump-hook. From that point on, we could count on one hand the number of times LSUs center actually decided to return there. A terrific move handling the ball from half-court in transition before throwing a pass-fake and scoring with the foul showed us plenty about just how nimble Davis feet are for a 320+ pound big man and how much he likes to show off his guard skills. The problem is he decided to show that all game long exclusively, repeatedly getting himself in trouble by attempting to penetrate the lane like a guard, abusing his ball-handling, trying to force his way into the paint instead of letting one of his guards make a post-entry pass and throwing up a number of extremely tough contested shots that looked completely out of control. His style of play is quite a novelty to watch, but isnt particularly effective when considering his strengths on the court.
On the defensive end he was abused repeatedly by Shelden Williams, either biting on every pump fake thrown his way or not even attempting to do anything to stop him, picking up his 3rd foul with 19:30 to go in the game and then his 4th with 8:30 in the game. His pick and roll defense was average at best, making a half-hearted effort to hedge on the screen and then doing his coach a huge favor by being willing to get back in the post. Davis has admittedly struggled with conditioning problems his entire career, but only had to play in 27 minutes in this particular game
All year long scouts and agents have been saying that they hear that Davis is going to declare for the draft, and this win over Duke might be the deal-sealer for him. The catch is he has to find a way to take off 40-50 pounds before the draft and somehow convince people that he can keep them off too, because that appears to be the only way hes going to have a shot at slipping into the 1st round. Whether its his conditioning problems, short arms, non-existent vertical leap or the fact that from watching him practice in person he appears to be closer to 6-7 than his listed height of 6-9, the cards are clearly stacked up against Big Baby until he makes some major changes to his physique.
Mike Gansey, 64, shooting guard, senior, West Virginia
18 points, 6-12 FG, 5 rebounds, 3-3 3 point FG
Though he wont wow anybody with his athleticism, Mike Gansey should be athletic enough to play at the next level, and his shooting would come in handy on a number of contending teams. He is also helped by the fact that he always hustles his heart out, and at least puts the effort in on the defensive end. With some good workouts, its hard not to envision Gansey as an early to mid second round pick. He wont be starting on any team in the NBA, but has the makings of a guy who can be a solid role player for years to come.
Kevin Pittsnogle, 611, Senior, PF/C, West Virginia
19 points, 7-15 FG, 5-9 3P, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers
Most of Pittsnogles shortcomings on the pro level will result from the fact that he is a big guy who excels at nothing but shooting threes. It was quite clear how lacking Kevin will be athletically in the NBA, as LaMarcus Aldridge constantly beat him badly up and down the court. Pittsnogle has a limited game inside at the college level, which will likely just get worse in the NBA, and isnt helped by his lack of explosiveness. His physical shortcomings also hurt him on the glass, as he lacks the length to be a factor and was constantly out jumped and out hustled all night long against Texas. Pittsnogle does know how to play to his strengths, however, and does have a shot at contributing in the NBA someday in a Matt Bonner type role.
J.J. Redick, 64, Senior, Shooting Guard, Duke
11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, 3 steals, 3-18 FG, 3-9 3P, 2-2 FT
From the very start it looked like it was going to be a rough night for Dukes All-American guard. LSU small forward Garrett Temple forced him to put the ball on the floor time after time by absolutely draping him with his length, and Redick fell hook line and sinker for their plan and exposed all of his weaknesses by forcing his way into the lane time after time. It seemed like every time Redick touched the ball he either traveled, had the ball stripped, or when he did manage to get into the paint forced up a weak lay-up that rimmed out or had the ball swatted away by LSUs gangly frontline. The Tigers threw multiple defenders at him off every single curl, trapped him once he got the ball in his hands and absolutely smothered him with their length every time he touched the ball. The biggest question marks Redicks detractors have about his game, specifically his lack of explosiveness and ball-handling skills, were all exposed as major potential problems for him at the next level.
The question now is how bad can one game hurt a four year players stock? The timing of this performance was horrendous considering the stage and way it will be the last impression scouts and GMs will have of him before he begins private workouts, but its almost impossible to imagine an NBA team deciding to guard him the way LSU did tonight without committing absolute suicide by exposing themselves to the wrath of his 4 teammates out on the floor. What is unfortunate is the way he lost his composure in very un-Redick-like fashion. Instead of maintaining his poise and continuing to move the ball around to his teammates until something opened up, Redick fell right into their hands by forcing the issue time after time. The fact that no one else on his team besides Shelden Williams could hit a shot did not help matters much, but weve seen teams with comparable athletes try to defend him this way before and the results were nowhere near the same.
This one game will likely end up hurting his stock just as much as his numerous 40+ point performances helped, but at the end of the day things could turn out well for him since that would probably just mean falling to a better team in the draft that wont have to rely on him exclusively the way Duke did tonight.
Josh McRoberts, 610, Freshman, Power Forward, Duke
9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal, 1 block, 4-10 FG, 1-2 FT, 0-2 3P
On the positive side, McRoberts did grab 10 rebounds and had a few scintillating jams and alley-oops over the course of the game. He also showed some very nice flashes of potential as noted above, especially with his face-up game. From the high post and from the perimeter, McRoberts was easily able to take anyone matched up with him off the dribble, getting into the lane, but not being able to finish the play. He also exhibited good weakside awareness on the defensive end, playing some solid team defense, but not being able to turn it into many shot alterations.
Most of the early indications weve received from NBA scouts point towards McRoberts declaring for the upcoming 2006 draft. He has not played up to expectations this season, but could still be a lottery pick based on potential, and may feel pressure to take advantage of this. If McRoberts went back to school next season, there is a chance his game could be exposed with teammates J.J Redick and Shelden Williams no longer on the team, something that McRoberts would likely have a better sense of than anyone else.
On the other hand, if hes up for the task, this could also be an opportunity for McRoberts to step up and finally put all of his potential together into what everyone expected him to be. For the long-term, McRoberts would likely be best off further developing his game at the collegiate level if he intends on getting significant minutes during his rookie contract and paving his way into a better 2nd deal. He appears to be just a few minor tweaks away from really improving his production. But if he doesnt believe he can ever live up to his hype, itd be hard to pass up the chance at being a lottery pick. Hes already passed it up once and might be regretting it now.
Patrick O'Bryant, 70, Sophomore, Center, Bradley
8 points, 14 rebounds, 3-7 FG, 2-5 FT
Thick and athletic Joey Dorsey of Memphis gave Patrick fits all game long, and the Bradley center looked like a completely different player compared with what he showed last time out. Towards the beginning of the game, OBryant had a few good looks from the field, but after an impressive tip dunk with 7:10 to go in the first half, he started to struggle. He was unable to hold his position on the block against Dorsey, and his teammates stopped looking to him to score. As a result, OBryant appeared to become passive, and struggled to contribute on either end of the floor. He started to move out further away from the basket, and looked to pass it nearly every time he touched the ball.
In the second half, OBryant made a few moves inside where he appeared to be afraid to take the contact, which led to bad misses. Even when OBryant does receive the ball in position to score, its rare to see him go up and finish a play strong if hes being closely contested. After a breakout game against a slow but fundamental center, it was a struggle today for Patrick against a strong and athletic opponent. Conditioning was a factor in his effort today, as he appeared to be a step slower than he was when his team was beating up on powerhouses Pitt and Kansas.
Though he struggled, OBryants rebounding was very impressive. He fought hard for position, and used his long arms and excellent leaping ability to grab 14 boards. 5 came on the offensive end of the floor, including the aforementioned tip dunk that energized the entire Bradley team, and created a swing in momentum.
Patrick OBryant has very good long term potential, but showed once again he is quite raw today. He lacks the strength and footwork to be a consistent threat against athletic centers in the post, and his range of offensive moves is limited. As is the case for many inexperienced players, OBryant was easily frustrated, and lost his focus when Dorsey managed to limit his game. In the future, he will need to work on bringing intensity to the floor even when things arent going his way. Though OBryant would benefit greatly from another year of college, centers are hard to come by in the NBA, and its hard to imagine he would decline the opportunity to be a first round pick. If he does declare, a team will have a project on their hands, but Patrick OBryant does have all the tools to be successful in the NBA, especially if he can work on the mental side of the game.