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NBA Draft Prospects To Watch in NCAA Tournament

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Coverage of the NCAA Tournament begins Thursday and there is plenty of NBA Draft prospects to keep an eye on.

When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, one of the most intriguing reasons to watch is due to how the NBA factors the Tournament.

The general viewer of the Tournament may just be watching for entertainment purposes. Whether it’s an upset or to watch a specific team and/or player. For NBA fans, it’s mostly to see who will be the next cream of the crop. Which players will step up when the lights are brightest. Beginning on Thursday, the top prospects will attempt to raise their NBA Draft stock, or show everyone why they should believe in the hype.

Here are my top five prospects I recommend for you to watch in the Tournament:

Josh Jackson, Kansas G/F

Throughout this entire season, there have been doubts in Jackson as an NBA prospect. There has been a plethora of questions and concerns regarding his jump shot. Of course, the off-the-court issues he’s been associated with don’t help him either. But, he has shown the ability to score in clutch situations and showcases the athletic ability that has been proven to be successful in today’s NBA.

As a freshman, Jackson has averaged over 16 ppg and over 7 RPG. Even if the draft was today, he wouldn’t have to wait very long to hear his name called on draft day. If he can improve his free-throw percentage (55%) in the Tournament and lead the Jayhawks to a deep run he may solidify himself as a top 5 pick come June.

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue F

Last season, Swanigan took advantage of a prospect-friendly draft system. Players can enter the draft and showcase their abilities to see where they rank with NBA scouts. Unsatisfied with the feedback he received, he then decided to return for his sophomore season.

On any given night, the 6-foot-9 250 pound forward is expected to record a double-double. In fact, he’s had 25 this season, which shockingly is second in Division 1 (Angel Delgado Seton Hall 26). Over this past off-season, the much lighter and more athletic Swanigan has led his Purdue Boilermakers to a regular season Big Ten Championship and has gotten attention on a national scale. But, can he lead his Boilermakers past the first or second round?

Jayson Tatum, Duke F

Tatum may be the most NBA-ready prospect out of all the freshmen. He’s already shown he help lead his Blue Devils when the lights are bright after leading them to an ACC Tournament title last week. He may not be your typical athletic/slashing small forward, but he has shown the ability to score coast-to-coast as best as we’ve seen in recent years. With the bright lights already on Duke, he probably has the best chance to improve his draft stock.

Justin Jackson, North Carolina F

Arguably, North Carolina has the toughest bracket with teams like UCLA, Kentucky, and Butler in their bracket. But, with a leader like Jackson, the sky is the limit for the Tar Heels to get their revenge in the National Championship.

Jackson is one of the most consistent shooters in all of college basketball and has been all season. Averaging over 18 points-per-game and also shooting over 37% from three-point range has impressed NBA scouts everywhere. As a Junior, he has been playing under the bright lights for a few years now and may be due for his big run this year. Obviously, going off on top looks good on his prospect profile.

Lonzo Ball, UCLA 

Probably one of the most obvious players that will have eyes on from the NBA world is none other than Lonzo Ball. Whether it’s his father LaVar Ball making headlines, or his son, the 6-foot-6 point guard will have all eyes on him all Tournament long.

As a freshman, he has already shown the combination of passing ability, and all-around game, he may be a top 3 draft selection already. But, imagine a Championship run? none of passing ability, and his all-around game he may be a top 3 draft selection already. But, imagine a Championship run? He would very well separate himself from the rest of the draft pool as the number one overall prospect in the draft. The kid is averaging over 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. Whether it’s with the Los Angeles Lakers or not, Ball has a bright future in the NBA.

Agree or disagree? Let me know on Twitter @dchendrix

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About Mohamed Bah

Mohamed Bah is a senior writer/editor at NBALEAD.

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