NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Up
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Down/Neutral
[c]Mustafa Shakur ends his NCAA career with another uneven performance[/c]
A look at the prospects who saw their stock drop or remain neutral in the second day of games at the NCAA tournament.
Kevin Durant has an average performance by his standards, but still finishes with 27 points. Alando Tucker wakes up early enough to not see his team fall to #15 seed Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton put in mediocre efforts against UNLV and are therefore already on their way home. That and much much more inside.
Kevin Durant, 6-10, Freshman, Forward, Texas
27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 6/12 FG, 15/16 FT
Early on, Durant struggled with a couple of his scoring attempts, which generally came further out on the perimeter. He only made 1 of his first 5 shots from the field, but was creating good shots within the flow of the offense. To adjust to the slow start, Durant started playing in the high post more often, starting many of the possessions by getting the ball with his back to the hoop from around 18 feet out. As a result, the offense started running through Durant, and he started making a lot of shots from 12 feet on in. This also opened up the perimeter more for him and his teammates. Durant finished the first half with 14 points, and he touched the ball on 16 of Texas 33 first half possessions.
In the second half, Durant started slowly, and didnt demand the ball nearly as much. He let teammate DJ Augustin make many of the plays, and New Mexico State was able to keep themselves in the game thanks to Durants lack of offensive production. With 6 minutes remaining in the game, he had only scored 3 points in the second half. He stepped up for the last 6 minutes of the game however, scoring 10 points, and knocking down many key free throws to keep the game out of reach for the opposing Aggies.
Durant displayed his wide array of scoring abilities in his first career NCAA Tournament game. From the post, his step through and spin moves allowed him to make shots from mid-range. He also showed off his ball-handling ability, and how he can use a crossover dribble to create space and score. Defensively, Durant used his length well, and disrupted a number of shots due to active hands.
Overall, this game probably doesnt move Kevin Durants draft stock in either direction. He proved that he wasnt out of place as a freshman leading his team into the NCAA Tournament, but he didnt do anything more than was required for Texas to win the game. It will be interesting to watch Durants reaction to increased pressure in the coming round(s) to teams who may be able to stay with him better defensively.
Nick Fazekas, 611, PF/C, Senior, Nevada
Vs Creighton: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 5-13 FG, 6-7 FT
Fazekas was more effective when he drifted out to the perimeter, but he was guarded closely there as well, really taking him out of his element for the game. He hit a quick spot-up three on one occasion and used a shot fake to draw a shooting foul behind the three-point line on another. He also made a nice face-up drive from about 15 feet out, though he missed his lay-up off the glass. Fazekas most important offensive play of the game was probably his simplest, hitting a wide open 10-foot jumper with 2:30 to go in regulation, tying the game en route to an eventual overtime.
On the defensive end, Fazekas was very inconsistent as usual, at times not providing any interior presence, often when his team needed it the most. He doesnt always body up when playing defense in the post either, letting the opposition gain position and get easy shot opportunities around the rim. Fazekas perimeter defense wasnt much better, as he wasnt respecting the mid-range jump shot, giving up two wide-open 15-footers early in the game. At times, Fazekas did really lock down on the post defense, and to his credit, he did an excellent job doing so on a crucial play down the stretch in overtime, where he bodied up his man twice to force tough shots in the post, after which he secured the rebound and was fouled, sending himself to the free throw line.
Despite the decent box score, this wasnt one of Fazekas better game, though a lot of that had to do with Creightons defense and his teammates inability to frequently get him the ball in good position. Fazekas will be matched up with Memphis Joey Dorsey on Sunday, where he will have his hands full for sure. Fazekas shouldnt be able to get much done in the post in that game, but with his offensive versatility, he could still be very effective playing on the perimeter. Fazekas has a history of underperforming in the NCAA tournament, and he now has another chance to come up big for his team in the next round and beyond. Even if his team is eliminated, Fazekas will have a chance to improve his stock in front of NBA scouts and executives at the NBA pre-draft camp in May. He currently projects as a late first-round pick, though he could help or hurt his stock with his play in the upcoming months.
Alando Tucker, 6-5, Wisconsin, Forward, Senior
23 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 6/17 FG, 9/10 FT
Early on, Tucker was rushing shots inside, and forcing up off balance mid-range jumpers off the dribble. He ended his scoring drought by attacking inside, and using a pump fake move with patience in the lane. This allowed him to draw contact inside, and get to the free throw line. In doing this, he also managed to put A&M Corpus Christi big man Chris Daniels on the bench with foul trouble for a couple possessions. Tucker also displayed his ability to score in transition by using his great vertical leaping ability and body control. He has been streaky with his shot all season, but he hit a 3 pointer today, and knocked in a very impressive 9 of his 10 free throw attempts.
At this point in the season, its pretty clear that Tucker has a load of talent, but a few key weaknesses that could hold him back at the next level. It would help his draft stock greatly if he continued to shoot the ball well in the NCAA tournament. 4-year college players who lead their teams deep into March are generally rewarded come draft day.
Joey Dorsey, 69, PF/C, Junior, Memphis
Vs North Texas: 9 points, 15 rebounds (9 offensive), 2 assists, 4-11 FG, 1-5 FT
Dorsey didnt post up much on the offensive end in the game, but when he did, he showed off an excellent drop-step move twice, one of which he finished with a jam and the other which he missed a jam on. He also made a nice lay-up off the glass on another post-up opportunity. Dorsey didnt have the offense run through him much, but he showed some nice passing awareness when he got the ball, dropping off an assist behind the three-point line on a high screen on one occasion and hitting a cutter on a backdoor pass going to the rim on another.
Defensively, Dorsey did a great job playing man defense in the post when someone was foolish enough to post him up, holding his ground well forcing the opposition into tough shot attempts. He did show some trouble when drawn outside of 10 feet, though, not showing the lateral quickness to effectively defend a face-up game.
Ivan Radenovic, 6-10, Senior, PF/C, Arizona
12points, 9 rebounds, 1 block, 4-11 FG
Radenovic started the game slowly, giving up position on the low block to Landry for an easy layup and missing two wide open jumpers one from mid-range, and another from beyond the arc. He was assertive, but not forcing things, and in contrast to the rest of the Wildcats, actually played within the flow of the offense. Radenovic did a good job moving the ball around and not turning it over. He scored some points in the traffic on pick and roll plays with Mustafa Shakur, but generally struggled finishing around the basket, missing quite a few shots that a 6-foot-10 player should make with ease, as his lack of vertical explosiveness hurts him greatly in this department. On the defensive end, Ivan did all the little things that made him indispensible for Lute Olsen all season long. He played good help defense, rotated properly and altered shots. However, when matched up against Carl Landry, he didnt fare well. Landrys strength clearly bothered him, as he was unable to box-out properly, allowing Landry to come up with numerous offensive rebounds.
While Radenovic will be certainly disappointed with the outcome of this game, we didnt find out anything that we didnt know already about him. His physical limitations are obvious, but he has a fairly good skill-set and does all the little things that coaches appreciate. As of right now, Radenovic looks like a solid 2nd round pick and his stock shouldnt be greatly affected by this tournament or over the next few months if NBA personnel have truly been paying attention to everything he does on the floor.
Chase Budinger, 6-foot-7, Freshman, Small Forward, Arizona
15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 4-9 FG
The best part of his game today was his passing, which was remarkable even though he was credited with just one assist. Budinger showed great court vision creating numerous good looks for his teammates, which they did not convert for the most part. He mostly settled for outside jumpers today, which were not falling at his usual clip, but his form and touch are very good as evidenced by his season averages of 48.6% from the field and 37.1% from behind the arc. Budinger gets in trouble when he tries to get too fancy with his dribble, and he doesnt have much of a mid-range game at this point.
He played passable defense in this game, usually guarding players that were a few inches shorter than him, but was still able to prevent dribble penetrations most of the time. Chase crashed the glass with his impressive leaping ability and finished with 6 rebounds, but his team could certainly have used even more of his help in this department today, particularly on the defensive end.
Budinger remains one of top wing prospects in the country thanks to his outstanding physical attributes, reliable outside shot and good understanding off the game. It would be interesting to see Chase in more of a go-to role at Arizona next year, when he will be called to do more things on his own. He says hes returning to school for another season, and although we love his potential, it certainly will help him long-term to continue to add experience and polish to his all-around game.
Jamar Wilson, 6-1, Senior, Guard, Albany
25 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 9-18 FG, 3-5 FT, 4-7 3P
The fifth year senior got more comfortable in the second half and began to show off the skills that made him such a prolific scorer during his time at Albany. Wilson knocked down a couple of outside shots (hes a 38.2% shooter from behind the arc), but did a lot of his damage getting to the basket and scoring. The speedster has a great first step and can blow by a lot of defenders. He really excels though at using his body to shield the basketball when he goes to the rim. As a 6-1 combo guard, Wilson is very undersized, even for the college game, but still manages to get off a lot of tough shots against much bigger players simply because he has great body control while in the air. He also showed the ability to create scoring by himself. Late in the game Wilson was being hounded with the ball well beyond the three point line with the shot clock winding down. Rather than panicking, he proceeded to beat his man off the dribble, weave through three more defenders draw a foul and hit a spinning lay up as the shot clock expired. Showing that kind of poise and ability against a fast team like Virginia certainly must have caught some scouts attention.
Despite his scoring prowess, Wilson is at best a long shot for the NBA. He is severely undersized for life in the NBA as a shooting guard, and he turns the ball over too much to be an effective point guard. This particular game didnt change his stock in any way; he got off to a slow start but had a strong showing in the second half to finish with numbers comparable to his season averages.
Thaddeus Young, 6-8, Freshman, SF/PF, Georgia Tech
8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 3-12 FG, 0-1 3P, 1-2 FT
Momentarily, mid-way through the first half, we thought that the light bulb may have finally come on for Young in realizing what his strengths and weaknesses are. He was defended by players who are 3-4 inches shorter than him all day long, and finally decided to take them into the post and utilize his size and athleticism to do more than just toss up outside shots. Young showed terrific quickness and a beautiful left-handed jump-hook off a pretty spin move, and then received the ball again in the post the next time down the floor and was immediately fouled.
That was the extent of him playing up the strengths for the day, though, as he immediately faded back onto the perimeter and did a whole lot of nothing for the rest of the game, going back to his mid-range game. He settled for a long-range jumper off the dribble that he missed badly, and then had his next attempt blocked after curiously trying to get fancy with the ball for no particular reason.
Defensively, Young looked clueless in Georgia Techs zone like his entire team, not showing great awareness on rotations and getting burned by smaller and quicker players off the dribble repeatedly. Towards the end of the game, Coach Hewitt decided to keep his two least trustworthy defenders, Anthony Morrow and Young, on the bench when he could play offense/defense between possessions, which is quite telling in itself. He did a particularly poor job helping out on the glass against a team that Tech clearly should have dominated in the rebounding department, finishing with only 4 easy rebounds and not doing a good job at all of keeping UNLV off the offensive glass, particularly down the stretch where they essentially lost the game.
All in all, Young needed a much better game than this to show that his lofty high school rankings werent for naught. He didnt have that, and clearly needs to return to school to polish up his perimeter game if he doesnt want to get exposed once his game and season really gets dissected on tape by decision makers.
Javaris Crittenton, 6-5, Freshman, Point Guard, Georgia Tech
8 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 turnovers, 4-11 FG, 0-3 3P
Crittenton did manage to show off some of his scoring prowess in certain sequences of the 2nd half, taking advantage of the fact that UNLV had no matchup for him once he decided to create his own shot with purpose and make his way to the basket. He looked spectacular on some of these drives, athletically double-clutching around the hoop and finishing off the glass, throwing difficult one-handed floaters in from six feet out, and using a pass fake on another occasion to keep his man off balance and open up a lane for himself in the process. He didnt look for his teammates all that much in the process, but considering how poorly Techs half-court offense looked (which obviously had plenty to do with their point guard), it was pretty hard to blame him.
Down the stretch, though, Crittenton essentially sealed the deal on why he has to return to school for his sophomore season. He showed a complete lack of poise in the way he handled the game, being called for a rare five-second call, showing little urgency when his team was down and the clock was ticking, displaying highly questionable decision making skills. Its something weve seen a few times this year already, but was amplified by the sheer magnitude of this game.
Marcus Williams, 6-7, Sophomore, SG/SF, Arizona
11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4-10
Williams clearly lost his matchup against Purdues much-less hyped perimeter players, losing his man completely on three occasions to allow clean looks from mid-range and an easy layup under the basket. He clearly has the tools to play good defense, but his focus and concentration were not there today. Offensively, he showed his good first step and ball-handling ability by getting into the lane when he really attempted to, converting on two acrobatic layups in the process. His outside shot was not falling for him today, missing both three-point attempts and another two from mid-range. Williams didnt do a good job of creating shots for his teammates today either.
This performance certainly didnt help his stock, and good performances by other swingmen in the tournament could see his stock take a hit on some draft boards. Williams has enough athleticism and skills to be a starting caliber player in the NBA down the road, but he will need to improve his attitude a bit, trust his teammates more and take a better approach on the defensive end. Even with his poor performance and early exit in the Tournament, Williams is probably too good to fall out of the first round, but we will have to see how the early-entry list shakes out to fully determine that.
Mustafa Shakur, 6-3, Senior, Point Guard, Arizona
9 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 8 turnovers, 3-7 FG
Twice in transition he had a 2-on-1 situation, but didnt make the right pass on time, resulting in a turnover and a blocked shot. Shakur was careless with the ball, often risking the possession with extremely difficult passes through multiple defenders and looking for complicated solutions instead of simple ones. He didnt shoot much today, knocking down one three-pointer from the wing, but missed two other good looks from downtown. His defensive effort was inconsistent as well, being very aggressive on some possessions early on in the passing lanes, but later coming back down to the earth, being beaten off the dribble by Chris Kramer and gambling for steals excessively.
Despite being at the end of his career at Arizona, Shakur still plays like a freshman in many aspects of the game. Occasionally he will look great as a true floor general, but its never on a consistent basis, particularly in terms of his decision making skills. Considering his size, athleticism and the solid point guard skills he shows in flashes, there is still a very good chance that he will hear his name called in the 2nd round, although his hopes of cracking the 1st took a serious hit with his poor showing today, and throughout the second half of the season for that matter.
Russell Carter, 6-4, Senior, SG, Notre Dame
12 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 6-15 FG, 0-1 FT, 0-6 3P
Carter, who usually relies on his outside shooting to set up his drives to the basket, didnt hit a single shot outside of the paint, an almost unthinkable statistic for a shooter of his caliber. He hit a couple of big lay ups down the stretch that were part of a furious second half Irish drive, who found themselves down by as much as 20 at some points. In the end though, Carter could never break out of his shooting slump, something he had been able to do at other points in the season. What made things even worse for Carter was his inability to create for teammates when he was having a poor shooting night. Granted, this isnt his strong point, but on a night where he shot 0-8 from outside the paint, Carter didnt record a single assist.
Already on the NBA draft bubble, this game certainly did not help Carters case. More scouts are watching players during the NCAA Tournament than at any other point during the season. Carter, who did have a fantastic senior season, will now need to have do well at Portsmouth and in private workouts in order to erase this abysmal performance from the minds of NBA scouts.