NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (Elite Eight, Sunday Games)

NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (Elite Eight, Sunday Games)
Mar 26, 2006, 11:09 pm
A look at the prospects who helped and hurt themselves the most in the eighth day of action in the NCAA tournament.

Joakim Noah comes up with another monster stat-line leading his team to the Final Four. Marcus Williams loses, but continues to make a case to be the first point guard off the board. Al Horford shows that he’s not the only Florida big man with a wide array of skills. Hilton Armstrong teases once again but comes up short in the end. Allan Ray appears to be intent on shooting himself out of the draft. Those and much more in our eighth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.

Elite Eight, Saturday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects

Sweet 16, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects

Sweet 16, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects

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

Stock Up

Joakim Noah, 6-11, Sophomore, PF/C, Florida

21 points, 15 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, 4-9 FG, 13-15 FT


Jonathan Givony

The MVP of the Minneapolis region didn’t have the prettiest game of the NCAA tournament here in the Elite Eight, but his infectious attitude and all-around hustle sparked the Florida Gators into a dominating win over Villanova and likely solidified Noah’s spot in the top 5 of the 2006 draft should he decide to come out.

Noah established himself early on in the game by attacking the rim in his typical fashion, coming up with a great dunk in transition as the trailer and then with an impressive and 1 off the glass while avoiding a charge. A couple of big blocks on the defensive end let Villanova’s guards know exactly what they will be dealing with all night long, and on the other end Noah was relentless taking the ball to the hoop and drawing fouls on anyone that attempted to guard him. He helped his point guard Taurean Green handle the full-court press all game long very effectively, not making even one mistake bringing the ball up the floor and calmly finding the open man.

His work on the glass might have been the best part of his game overall here, coming up with 15 monster rebounds, many of which were well out of his area and always accompanied by a primal scream that could be heard around the arena.

With 10 minutes to go in the first half Noah showed off his versatility by moving to the small forward position once again in Billy Donovan’s 3 big man lineup, looking comfortable out on the perimeter handling the ball and always making good decisions and playing under control.

Jason Fraser came off Villanova’s bench and gave Noah some problems at times on either end of the floor, challenging him with his strength and forcing him into some tough finishes around the hoop that rimmed out. Noah expended so much energy in this tournament so far with his relentless style of play that he appeared to have worn himself out in certain stretches of the 2nd half, but a quick trip to the bench rejuvenated him for the final 10 minutes in which he was as dominant as ever.

After coming up with 2 field goals in the first 2 and a half minutes of the game, Noah went nearly 34 minutes without a field goal until 3 minutes and 30 seconds left in the game, but still found a way to help his team out by getting to the free throw line a half a dozen times or more during this stretch. On the night he converted an extremely impressive 13 of his 15 free throws.

Noah once again showed off his outstanding ball-handling skills and body control by coming up with a great steal from just outside the paint on the defensive end and taking the ball the length of the floor before being fouled right before he was about to lay it in off the glass. A beautiful finish off the glass with his left hand after working his way towards the rim with a spin move late in the game might have been his most impressive basket of the night.

Villanova’s guards got absolutely nothing easy inside the paint as their 18-73 shooting from the field will attest, and Noah played a huge part in that along with his frontcourt mate Al Horford, coming up with 6 very intimidating blocks and changing many more.

All in all this was just another outstanding game from Florida’s big man, showing that he can find a way to contribute to his team on almost every possession even when he lacked the strength or touch to finish around the rim. He only converted 4 field goals on the night, but still ended up with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks.

Al Horford, 6-9, Sophomore, PF/C, Florida,

12 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 6-12 FG


Mike Schmidt

Although he’s nowhere near as heralded on the national level as his frontcourt mate Joakim Noah, Horford was just as important to his team’s victory tonight and beyond the stats played just as good of a game.

Horford started out the game in dominant fashion, coming up with two early baskets where he displayed impressive footwork, explosiveness and body control in traffic. As the game progressed, he remained a steady presence on the boards throughout, using his body, smarts and terrific strength to shield the ball from the other team. On the offensive end of the floor, Horford established very good position and made some nice moves trying to be aggressive.

Though he missed his fair share of shots in the post, he was there to collect the offensive rebound on a few occasions, which led to a couple of thunderous dunks. Horford also displayed a high basketball IQ, especially by making a nice pass to the cutting Joakim Noah late in the game, which led to yet another Florida dunk. He also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor, bringing the ball up out of the double team, and weaving through a few different trap attempts from Villanova.

As far as skills go, there are few that Al Horford hasn’t displayed at some point in the NCAA tournament. Against Villanova, his mid-range shot wasn’t falling, but he has shown the raw ability to hit the 15 footer in the past. Horford also has excellent quickness and leaping ability to go along with a chiseled body to compliment his array of skills. He has a bright future in the NBA, whether he leaves after this season or waits for the 2007 draft.

Marcus Williams, 6-3, Junior, Point Guard, UConn

13 points, 11 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 5-12 FG, 2-5 3P, 1-1 FT


Jonathan Givony

Marcus Williams’ team is officially out of the NCAA tournament, but there is little doubt that they would not have made it nearly as far without the playmaking skills of their excellent point guard.

This might have been Williams’ least impressive showing in the tournament so far, but he still managed to do a fantastic job running his team as well as find a way to score the points they needed from him and come up big in the clutch as he has all tournament long.

Williams’ confidence and poise were always evident when watching him set up his team’s offense, getting his big men involved wonderfully, finding his wings spotting up on the perimeter and pushing the tempo when his coach instructed him to do so. As UConn’s players have learned all season long, if they put the effort in to get open, their point guard will find them and will usually do it while putting them in a perfect position to score.

This time he wasn’t as effective driving to the basket as we had seen from him in the past, seeing a couple of his floaters rim out on him and not taking the ball as strong to the basket to get to the free throw line, and also missing badly on a couple of the 3-point attempts he tried early on. When his team needed him to score, though, Williams was both willing and able to shoulder the load once he realized that his half-court offense had bogged down. He came up with two big pull-up jumpers late in the 2nd half, knocked down a deep three, and came up with a terrific steal with 52 seconds remaining before finishing on the break calmly off the glass plus the foul. Two costly turnovers late in the game, one on a questionable palming call that CBS for some reason decided not to show on instant replay hurt his team’s comeback effort, but Williams still found a way to tie the game by finding Denham Brown swooping in from the wing for a drive and acrobatic finish.

His team ended up losing in overtime, but Williams appears to have already punched his ticket for the NBA draft lottery with the way he played in this tournament.

Corey Brewer, 6-8, Sophomore, Small Forward, Florida

11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, 18 minutes, 4-6 FG, 1-1 3P, 2-3 FT

Jonathan Givony

Florida’s super long and athletic swingman Corey Brewer might have liked to be on the floor a little bit more in order to help his team out after struggling with foul trouble for most of the night, but he still made his presence felt extremely well for every second he was in the game.

Whether it was coming off a curl and knocking down a 3-pointer, pulling up off the dribble from the perimeter, playing outstanding defense on the much shorter Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry, getting out in transition or forcing Villanova’s guards into costly fouls with his quickness; Brewer was an absolute blur, and his quickness, energy and numerous contributions on the floor were impossible to ignore.

Unfortunately for him he picked up his 2nd foul with 12 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first half, which forced him to ride the pine until the beginning of the second half in spite of his pleas to Coach Billy Donovan to let him back in. Brewer’s energy helped his team out tremendously to start the second half as well, keeping his team in the game during a crucial stretch, but this also led to him picking up two more costly fouls and again having to sit out for extended periods. He only ended up playing 18 minutes in this game, but still gave the scouts in attendance a great look at the impact his terrific athleticism, length and tenacity can have on his team.

Stock Neutral

Rudy Gay, 6-9, Sophomore, Small Forward, UConn

20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block, 8-16 FG, 2-4 3P, 2-2 FT


Jonathan Givony

Losing in the Elite Eight to George Mason probably wasn’t the way Rudy Gay wanted to finish his college career, and for once it’s hard to put too much blame on the way he performed here, besides maybe his semi-disappearing act very late in the game.

Continuing with the extreme inconsistency we’ve seen from many of the top prospects in the tournament so far, Gay bounced back pretty nicely from the stinker he put up in the Sweet 16 against Washington. He showed flashes of why many consider him to be the most naturally talented player in college basketball, being very aggressive early on and looking particularly impressive shooting mid-range and long-range jumpers from the perimeter. Gay did a nice job all game long coming off screens and taking what the defense gave him, never really putting the ball on the floor but instead elevating over the top of his matchup and releasing a silky smooth looking high-arching jumper that drew nothing but nylon more often that not. During one key stretch in the 2nd half from 9:30 to 6:22 he scored 9 straight points for his team, essentially keeping them in the game when George Mason started making a run.

Defensively he had some tough calls go against him just for being a little too physical with his man, but still showed a lot of potential with his lateral quickness and by using his length to get in the passing lanes.

Down the stretch, though, particularly in overtime, Gay was nowhere to be found, only taking one shot over the last 11 and a half minutes of the game and not scoring any points.

All in all this was not exactly the type of tournament Rudy Gay needed to have to prove that he is worthy of being a top 3 pick. Look for him to bounce back during private workouts which are tailor made for his strengths.

Hilton Armstrong, 6-11, Senior, Power Forward/Center, UConn

8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3-8FG, 2-3FT

Joseph Treutlein

]Armstrong’s final performance for UConn was a mixed bag. He showed flashes of quite a few things in this game, but didn’t really stand out in any one area. On the offensive end, he showed an 18-foot jumper on one occasion, a turnaround jumper in the post, and a spin move for a lay-in in the post. He showed some evidence of a face-up off-the-dribble game from mid-range, but wasn’t able to convert it into any points. He also drew some fouls down low and showed some good passing out of the low and high post.

Defensively, Armstrong had four blocks, but didn’t have the impact he should’ve in this game. He often seemed either complacent or hesitant in the lane when approached by opposing slashers, not contesting their shots as fiercely as he could, if at all. He has the athleticism, length, and timing to be a real force on the weakside, but needs to show more of a killer instinct to be fully effective with it. In terms of man defense, he had his hands full with George Mason PF Jai Lewis all night long, often being overpowered by the 275-pounder. Armstrong showed a pretty good fundamental base in the post, but simply couldn’t dictate the situation at all because of his strength deficiency. Lewis backed him down and repeatedly scored on him. Armstrong did manage to use his length to compensate for his strength on a few occasions, poking the ball away from Lewis before he could complete his move.

Armstrong projects as a mid to late-first round in this summer’s draft, but could still use a lot of work on his game. He most importantly needs to get stronger to improve his man defense in the post, but he could also use some polish on his offensive game. He has a good base of skills right now, but definitely has room to expand on them. If Armstrong has a strong performance at the Orlando pre-draft camp or in workouts and adds a few extra pounds of bulk in the next few months, it may be enough to push him into the lottery.

Randy Foye, 6-4, senior, Shooting Guard, Villanova

25 points, 7-18 FG, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 5 fouls

Mike Schmidt

Randy Foye again was the only player who showed up for Villanova, but this time it wasn’t enough for a victory. He came out and scored points early, posting 7 of his team’s first 12 in a variety of ways. As he has proved throughout the NCAA Tournament, he possesses a nice combination of shooting and slashing ability with very smooth athleticism to boot. On the defensive end, Foye was left guarding post players much of the time due to the 4 guard lineup that his team runs. He held his position about as well as he could be expected to, and collected 7 rebounds against the bigger Florida front court, once again showing just how tough a player he is.

The main reason Foye didn’t move himself into the stock up category is the fact that foul trouble allowed him an audition at the point guard position. He has played off the ball for most of the season, and a lot of people project him into the NBA as somebody who can play both the point guard and shooting guard positions. Foul trouble gave him this opportunity, but Foye bombed his audition miserably. He didn’t create any ball movement, instead keeping the ball in his hands excessively and more than once took contested shots early in the shot clock. For the game, Foye couldn’t muster up even one assist to compliment the great scoring numbers. Foye finished up his college career by carrying his team, but also displaying some deficiencies that cause a bit of concern at the next level, especially once he’ll undoubtedly measure out shorter than his listed height of 6-4.

Denham Brown, 6-6, Senior, SG/SF, UConn

11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 3-8 FG, 4-4 FT, 1-5 3P

Joseph Treutlein

Brown had a pretty non-descript game up until the final 10 seconds of regulation, when he changed gears and stepped up in the clutch. With the Huskies down by two, Brown took the ball baseline, dribbled past a defender, and put it in for a reverse off the glass to send the game into overtime with a buzzer beater. Brown continued his attack in overtime, getting to the line twice off a post-up and a cut, then making all four free throws. He also played some very aggressive defense on George Mason guard Lamar Butler, locking him down for all but one play when he overextended with help in the post, leaving Butler open for a spot-up three on the kickout. UConn was down by two with a few seconds remaining in overtime, a very similar situation to the end of regulation, and Brown again took the last shot. But this time, he missed a pull-up three-pointer that would’ve given them the win, sending them home in a crushing defeat by the 11th seed.

Brown perhaps did more in the final 5:02 than he did in the rest of the game combined, just blending into the flow of the UConn offense. He did have five rebounds, fighting hard for all of them, and a few nice post entry passes over the course of the game. He also didn’t make many mistakes and helped keep the UConn offense flowing with his passing. Brown’s greatest strength is widely noted to be his defense, but we didn’t see much of it in this game. There were just not many opportunities for him to display it, as the George Mason guards never tried to penetrate on him.

Brown, a senior, projects as a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. As for where he will go in the second round, that’s all up to him. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a case for himself at both the Portsmouth and Orlando pre-draft camps, where he will no longer be playing in the shadows of the future lottery picks that have surrounded him throughout his tenure at UConn. His defense alone should get him some looks at roster spots in the NBA, but taking on a larger offensive role would do a lot for his stock. He did score 20+ points on three occasions this season, so he is capable of doing it.

Stock Down

Allan Ray, 6-2, Senior, Shooting Guard, Villanova

11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 5-19 FG, 1-7 3P


Joseph Treutlein

The final game of Allan Ray’s collegiate career is not one he’s going to want to remember. There wasn’t much Ray did well in this game, scoring only 11 points on 19 field goal attempts. Whether it was spotting up or taking it off the dribble, Ray just couldn’t get his shot to fall. He was spotting up from three, pulling up for mid-range jumpers, and taking it into the lane with floaters, but nothing was working. When Ray’s shot isn’t falling, he usually can’t contribute much else, and we saw nothing new in this game. He wasn’t a force on the boards, wasn’t setting up teammates, and didn’t do anything notable on the defensive end.

Ray will have opportunities to show his worth at the pre-draft camps this summer. If a team is looking for a scoring sparkplug off the bench, Ray could be a nice option. He has shown the ability to score in great loads at times, and certainly will be able to contribute in that regard for some team. But at this point, you can’t really expect much more from Ray. He’s an undersized shooting guard who can’t contribute anything other than scoring. And on top of that, he doesn’t know how to turn it off when his shot isn’t falling.

Josh Boone, 6-10, Senior, PF/C, UConn

6 points, 2-4 FG, 2-4 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 block

Mike Schmidt

Though Boone didn’t really get a chance to establish himself on the offensive end of the floor, he continued to struggle at the free throw line, something that has hurt him all season. On the two field goals he missed, he displayed little body control or touch around the rim, and when given the ball he wasn’t able to create anything in the post. Boone also ended up in foul trouble against the much smaller front court of George Mason. He picked up his third foul early in the first half, and had to sit for a long period of time. For an NBA prospect like Boone, you expect him to look dominant at least during stretches in big games, and he was nowhere to be found in the final game of his junior year. He will probably decide to at least test his stock and enter the draft, but one more year of learning from Calhoun would really benefit Josh Boone.

Kyle Lowry, 6-1, Sophomore, Point Guard, Villanova

3 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 steals, 1-9 FG, 1-1 FT

Joseph Treutlein

Lowry had a very poor showing in Villanova’s tournament exit, playing in foul trouble for much of the game and eventually fouling out. On the offensive end, Lowry was constantly driving into the lane and hoisting up bricks, shooting an abysmal 1-for-9 on the night. Even when he did throw up a decent attempt, it had no chance of going in with Joakim Noah and Al Horford patrolling the paint, though Lowry never got the hint. Lowry made a few nice kick-outs off his penetrations, but also had a few plays where he went towards the basket with his head down, not even looking for the open man on the perimeter.

Defensively, Lowry played some strong, aggressive defense at times, but also had bursts of over-aggressive defense, which led to the foul trouble. He also played the passing lanes well, exhibiting his great anticipation by making two steals that led to fast break opportunities.

Lowry will undoubtedly be returning to Villanova next season, which should be a great situation for his development. In the current Villanova offense, the ball-handling duties are shared by four guards, but next season, teammates Randy Foye and Allan Ray will likely no longer be on the team, putting more of the duties in Lowry’s hands. This should be crucial to his development as a point guard. As of right now, Lowry doesn’t possess many point guard skills beyond the drive-and-kick, but he will need to develop these things to become a real prospect. He also needs to improve his decision-making. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the task next season.

Recent articles

4.3 Points
5.7 Rebounds
3.0 Assists
13.5 PER
27.1 Points
8.9 Rebounds
4.4 Assists
21.7 PER
8.8 Points
6.5 Rebounds
2.5 Assists
15.0 PER
6.5 Points
6.8 Rebounds
0.9 Assists
19.8 PER
8.0 Points
0.4 Rebounds
1.3 Assists
13.5 PER
3.0 Points
1.0 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
4.3 PER
2.4 Points
0.6 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
8.8 PER
3.5 Points
3.4 Rebounds
0.2 Assists
14.3 PER
7.3 Points
6.5 Rebounds
3.5 Assists
8.7 PER
27.0 Points
9.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
38.4 PER
5.2 Points
2.2 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
7.3 PER
0.0 Points
0.0 Rebounds
0.0 Assists
0.0 PER
2.0 Points
3.5 Rebounds
0.5 Assists
3.0 PER
5.7 Points
9.7 Rebounds
1.3 Assists
8.5 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop