Top Prospects to Watch in March Madness

By Editor-in-Chief Harris Oates, Senior Analyst Sawyer Hicks and NBA Analyst John Henry Robison V

As March Madness is finally back, we thought it would only be appropriate if we changed things up this week. Instead of bringing you NFL Draft prospects, we put our heads together and previewed the top prospect to watch this weekend during the NCAA Tournament.

Cade Cunningham | 6’8”, 220 lbs | 19.5 Yrs

PG | #4 Oklahoma State (Midwest)

Matchup:#13 Liberty – Friday, 6:25 pm on TBS

Analysts Take:

SH – Cunningham is the best player in college basketball and will be the first player drafted. He had a very strong Big-12 tournament and is already starting to pull away from the other top-heralded prospects. Scouts and analysts have repeatedly compared his game to Luke Doncic because of his passing ability and isolation scoring.

HO – He is the prospect that we were told he was going to be…something even I was late to buy in on. Cunningham has done it all this year and heads into the tournament averaging over 20 ppg, shooting 41% from 3 and 45% from the field.

Jalen Suggs | 6’4”, 205 lbs | 19.7 Yrs

PG/SG | #1 Gonzaga (West)

Matchup: #16 Seed (Winner of App State vs. Norfolk State) – Saturday 9:20 PM on CBS

Analysts Take:

SH – Suggs is a pro ready combo guard who will be able to fit right in and be a major contributor with any team in the NBA. It helps his stock that he chose to go to Gonzaga and not be the main guy, because it shows he wants to win and will do whatever it takes. NBA teams love seeing that from young guys. He will be drafted inside the top 4.

JHRV –  He is a 6’4 freshman guard who is a very efficient scorer and excels as an elite perimeter defender.  He is an intriguing prospect, as he can play both guard positions and defend the opposing team’s best guard.  While his 3PT and FT shooting is not amongst the elite in this draft, his overall offensive production is remarkable, which is why he is my top guy.

Evan Mobley | 7’0”, 215 lbs | 19.7 Yrs

 C | #6 USC (West)

Matchup: #11 Seed (Winner of Wichita State vs Drake) – Saturday, 4:30 pm on TruTV

Analysts Take:

SH – Mobley has put together an incredible freshman season for USC, putting up huge numbers and leading them to the NCAA tournament, which is especially impressive for a freshman big man. He will be drafted somewhere between picks 2-4 because of his strong post play on offense and defense. He will need to be able to stretch the floor and shoot better at the next level in order to be a perennial All Star, but his floor is already at minimum a starting big on most teams. 

HO – Mobley has the tendency to take over in big games, something that scouts love to see from a big. He’s been extremely efficient shooting the rock and loved seeing him dominate and take over his last two games in the PAC12 tournament. USC enters the tournament as a 6 seed, but they could be turning some heads by having the best big man in the tournament.

JHRV He is an elite shot blocker, solid rebounder and great finisher at the rim (especially lobs).  His long, athletic frame allows him to shoot over defenders and control position in the paint.  While his traditional post offense is still a bit raw, he does have the ability to handle the ball and hit jump shots.

Scottie Barnes | 6’9”, 227 lbs | 19.6 Yrs

PF | #4 Florida State (East)

Matchup: #13 UNC Greensboro – Saturday, 12:45 pm on TruTV

Analysts Take:

SH – Barnes is one of my favorite players in the tournament and this upcoming draft. He is a super sized point guard who is creative with the ball, elite defensively, and makes everyone around him better. His coach, Leonard Williams, has even compared him as a mix between Magic Johnson and Scotty Pippen…pretty big shoes to fill. He is currently projected a mid lottery pick, but has the potential to breakthrough the top 5 with a strong tournament.

JHRV – Barnes, at 6’9″, is a long and athletic NBA prospect.  His strong points include his ability as a playmaker (point-forward) and his versatility to defend multiple positions.  The athleticism, playmaking and defense are appealing; however, his shooting is very poor.

Corey Kispert | 6’7”, 220 lbs | 22.0 Yrs

SF | #1 Gonzaga (West)

Matchup: #16 Seed (Winner of App State vs. Norfolk State) – Saturday 9:20 PM on CBS

Analysts Take: 

SH – Even though Kispert is relatively older, he makes up for it with his shooting touch, being arguably the best pure shooter in all of Division 1. Every NBA team is in need of shooting and he will provide it. His projected draft position is somewhere in the late lottery to the mid first round.

JHRV – The 6’7″ SF is among the best scorers in the NCAA.  He averages 19 ppg on 54/44/89 shooting splits and definitely has NBA three point range.  A versatile wing scorer is very intriguing to NBA scouts.

Franz Wagner | 6’8”, 205 lbs | 19.6 Yrs

SF | #1 Michigan (East)

Matchup: #16 seed – (winner of Mt St Mary’s vs. Texas Southern) – Saturday, 3:00 pm on TruTV

Analyst Take: 

HO – Franz Wagner is a high IQ player who lacks the athleticism to be a do-it-all Small Forward in the NBA, but has the potential to develop into one of the best deep shooters in the league. Wagner doesn’t provide much help on defense, especially at the next level, but has shot over 38% from 3 this year and roughly 50% from the field. A deep tournament run could push Wagner into lottery position in the draft. 

JHRV – Wagner’s strongest attribute is his shooting range.  He can shoot from well beyond 3pt range and can provide much needed floor spacing to any NBA team.

James Bouknight | 6’5”, 190 lbs | 20.5 Yrs

SG | #7 UCONN (East)

Matchup: #10 Maryland – Saturday, 7:10 pm on CBS

Analyst Take:

HO – Bouknight has been a crafty scorer and held together the UCONN Huskies, propelling them into the tournament. He doesn’t shoot many deep balls, but has averaged over 30% for his career. He is a modest athlete with good length for his skill set, but you’d like to see a lottery shooting guard attempt more than 141 3’s in 2 seasons. Regardless, Bouknight can be an electric scorer and I could see him making some noise with his 7-seed Huskies in the tournament. 

JHRV – He is a poor playmaker, passer and distributor in addition to having a subpar 3pt percentage this season.  His high FT% suggests that he could in fact improve as a perimeter shooter. If he is not an elite playmaker or defender, then it is mandatory that he must become a better shooter.  While his point production is very high, I’d like to see him score the basketball more efficiently. 

Moses Moody | 6’6”, 205 | 18.8 Yrs

SG | #3 Arkansas (South)

Matchup: #14 Colgate – Friday, 12:45 pm on TNT

Analyst Take:

HO – Moody is my favorite sleeper prospect and could see him fly up draft boards soon. He is a phenomenal athlete who has done nothing but produce in big moments this year. The Freshman SG comes into the tournament averaging 17 ppg and 6 rebounds, while averaging over 37% from 3 (with 145 attempts). Moody enters the tournament on a hot streak where he has averaged 22 ppg over the last 6 games and will look to make a name for himself. The 6’6” guard has a wingspan of roughly 7 feet, something that could be dangerous in the NBA if he continues to shoot the way he has this year. Don’t sleep on Moses Moody.

JHRV – He was among the best scorers in the SEC this season and hit solid shooting percentages with 44/37/81% splits.  He is definitely a SG/wing at the NBA level and has done very little as a playmaker or passer.  He is simply an elite scorer.

Jaden Springer | 6’4”, 204 lbs | 18.5 Yrs

PG/SG | #5 Tennessee (Midwest)

Matchup: #12 Oregon State – Saturday, 4:30 pm on TNT

SH – Springer is the best defensive guard who will be taken near the beginning of the first round. He makes all of the right plays and is very smart on both ends of the floor. He is very reminiscent of Malcolm Brogdon and his feel for the game, intelligence, and defensive chops. Springer is another player that will boost his draft stock if he is able to lead Tennessee to a solid showing in the tournament. He is a safe bet to be a productive NBA player for a very long time.

JHRV – Springer is another raw point guard prospect. While he is an efficient scorer with 47/44/80% shooting splits, similar to a few other guards on this list, he is an underdeveloped playmaker.  He can definitely shoot, score and defend but has not developed much as a passer.

Keon Johnson | 6’5”, 186 lbs | 19.0 Yrs 

SG | #5 Tennessee (Midwest)

Matchup: #12 Oregon State – Saturday, 4:30 pm on TNT

SH – Fun fact that I’m sure every commentator will bring up, Johnson didn’t start playing organized basketball until high school. If he is able to improve to a lottery level prospect in 5 years, he has unlimited potential in our eyes. He is an aggressive, quick guard that has a special ability to get to the foul line. He will continue to improve and add muscle on his slender frame once he starts an NBA weight training program. He needs to improve his shot and that will ultimately determine his future as an NBA player. His floor is a spark off the bench guy, and his ceiling is an explosive starting point guard. He is firmly entrenched as a lottery selection even with a strong tournament showing.

JHRV – He is a solid perimeter defender and very good at getting to the basket, but his biggest weakness is his outside shooting.  While best described as a slasher/penetrator offensively, he needs to improve his 3pt shooting ability to compete at the NBA level.

Day’Ron Sharpe | 6’11”, 265 lbs | 19.4 Yrs

C | #8 North Carolina (South)

Matchup: #9 Wisconsin – Friday, 7:10 pm on CBS

HO – Day’Ron Sharpe is certainly another NBA project, but any 19 year old that is 6’11”, 265 lbs will certainly be on the Draft Radar. Sharpe hasn’t been the dominant scorer that you’d like to see him be and he’s averaged just 19 minutes a game, but has shown flashes of greatness and has 6 double-doubles this season. There is no guarantee that Sharpe leaves for the NBA, but is a name to certainly watch this weekend.

Kai Jones | 6’11”, 218 lbs | 20.2 Yrs

PF/C | #3 Texas (East)

Matchup: #14 Abilene Christian – Saturday, 9:50 pm on TruTV

Analysts Take:

SH – Whichever team selects Jones will be in it for the long haul with him because he is years away from reaching his potential. He is an extremely good, mobile defender across the board, but raw on offense. He didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15, so there will be lapses in his basketball IQ that will just have to improve with repetitions and practice. He should be a late lottery selection, but there are plenty of teams that are about to start rebuilding who would love the opportunity to mold him into the big man that they envision he can be.

HO – Kai Jones is a lanky and long big man who has just begun to find his groove late in the season. He is a major project, but we could see him truly shine in the tournament.

Ayo Dosunmu | 6’5”, 185 lbs | 21.2 Yrs

PG/SG | #1 Illinois (Midwest)

Matchup: #16 Drexel – Friday, 1:15 pm on TBS

Analysts Take:

SH – Dosunmo is my favorite prospect coming into this draft because of his exciting style of play in college and his fiery defense. He is my personal prediction for a player who will put his name out there and increase his draft stock greatly with him being the focal point for a stacked Illinois team looking to make a deep run. Although he carries that majority of the load on offense, he is just as important on the other end for this team due to his aggressive, lockdown defense. He is currently projected to be taken at the back end of the lottery to the middle of the first round due to his age and shooting inconsistencies, but he has improved his shooting numbers every season, which bodes well for his shooting potential at the next level. Look for him to have a strong tournament and the pre-draft processes.

HO – There is a good chance that we will see Ayo Dosunmo cutting down the nets in a few weeks, and don’t be surprised if he is also the tournament MVP. He has caught fire in March and would make a sensational story if Illinois gets hot. He has been a constant project, but has exploded his junior season and become one of the most efficient players in the country. Don’t be surprised if Ayo Dosunmu becomes a lottery pick.

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