Sweet 16

The Sweet 16 teams are ready for action. Who are the 16 players you should be keeping an eye on with regard to the NBA Draft? We will release four names each day, leading up to the first game Thursday.

In alphabetical order...

Thursday's release

Zhaire Smith - Texas Tech 6'5" 195 SG frosh. - When a school like Texas Tech is suddenly basketball relevant there is a good chance someone special has joined their team. That someone is Zhaire Smith. He is a exciting athlete that dazzles with his array of dunks and his overall basketball playing ability. Smith is tenth in the entire NCAA in box score plus/minus this season. He averages 11.3 points, and 4.8 rebounds per game. He doesn't shoot a high volume of threes but his current mark of 44% 3-pt. FG is excellent. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.4-to-1, which is also excellent for a TWO-guard. There is enough potential in Smith for him to be a late first round pick.

Jarred Vanderbilt - Kentucky 6'9" 215 C frosh. - He is a floor-running 6'9" athlete that also has good vision and a feel for the game. He is capable of bringing the ball coast-to-coast and dropping off a nice pass in transition. Kentucky is a decidedly better defensive team when Vanderbilt is on the floor. He averages a ridiculous 7.8 rebounds in only 17 minutes per game (best rebounder per-minute in our database). Vanderbilt has been nursing a sore ankle and he is questionable to play this weekend.

Dean Wade - Kansas St. 6'8" 225 SF jr. - One of the most skilled players left in the tournament, Dean Wade doesn't get much hype. Wade is a solid forward that finished fourth in the Big 12 in box score plus/minus. He averages 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He took a big step forward since last season and he now is nailing 44% of his three-point shots. His 1.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is point guard-ish. K-State is better defensively by a slight margin when Wade is on the floor.

Robert Williams - Texas A&M 6'9" 237 C soph. - Williams is a defensive difference maker for Texas A&M. He led the SEC in defensive rebounding in 2017-18. He blocks shots at a high rate too. Williams sticks out as a NBA athlete. ...Offensively, Williams is challenged. He is a poor free throw shooter (54% career), and he turns it over more than he assists it. He has attempted 30 three point shots and connected on just two of those attempts. Even with all of his offensive shortcomings, we think Williams could be drafted late in the lottery.

Wednesday's release

Vincent Edwards - Purdue 6'7" 220 SF SR. - Edwards is a "jack of all trades", wing, that averages 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2017-18. He raised his scoring average with each season. He shoots the three-ball at 39%. ...Edwards is an excellent free throw shooter at 83%. His 1.77-to-1 assists to turnover suggest you can run some offense through him. He is a solid defender.

Shai Gilgeous- Alexander - Kentucky 6'6" 181 PG frosh. - Gilgeous-Alexander is good now and he has the tools that can make him potentially great. Blessed with great speed, and excellent size for a point guard, Gilgeous-Alexander averages 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. He is shooting 41% from three-point range and 81% from the line. He led the SEC in minutes played, offering evidence of his importance to the Wildcats.

Mfiondu Kabengele - Florida State 6'9" 235 PF frosh. - Kabengele has NBA athleticism to go with an NBA body. That is a good place to start. He averages 7.3 points, and 4.8 rebounds in just 14.8 minutes per game. Scouts know that Leonard Hamilton always plays a deep roster of players. Kabengele is knocking down 38% of his three-balls. He will need to improve his decision making (three turnovers for every one assist) and overall shooting skill (only 62% FT). ...Florida State is 2.2 points better defensively per 100 possessions with Kabengele on the floor. His uncle is Dikembe Mutombo. Kabengele is 20 years old.

Sagaba Konate - West Virginia 6'8" 260 C soph. - Konate is a shot blocking pivot that anchors the West Virginia defense. He leads the NCAA this season in block percentage. He averages 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and a whopping 3.2 blocked shots per game. Konate continues to improve in other areas of the game. He made a noticeable improvement in his free throw stroke, going from 64% as a freshman to nailing 80% this season. He is taking care of the ball better this season as well.

Tuesday's release

Jalen Brunson - Villanova. 6'2" 200 jr. PG. - Brunson is as steady as they come. He was the 2017-18 Big East Playerof the Year. The son of former NBA player, Rick Brunson, Jalen is the leader and tough-shot maker for a very good Villanova team. He averages 19.1 points and 4.7 assists per game. He has improved in both areas with each successive season. Brunson is shooting 42% from three-point range in this campaign. He is a career 82.1% foul shooter with a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.

Jevon Carter - West Virginia. 6'2" 185 SR. PG. - Jevon Carter is among the toughest guards we have seen come along in the last few years. He led the Big 12 in 2017-18 box score plus/minus, as well as steals per game. He averaged 17.4 points, 6.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game in 2017-18. He has improved his three point shooting and is now connecting on 39% 3-pt FG this season. He owns a 2.07-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and he is making 85% of his free throws in 2017-18.

Wendell Carter Jr. - Duke. 6'10" 259 frosh. PF. - Were it not for all the headlines generated by his frontcourt teammate Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter might be among the most talked about players in college hoop. Carter is averaging 13.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocked shots per game. He can stretch the defense by hitting 44% of his three-point shots. Carter is the defensive anchor for Duke. The team is 4.6 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Carter on the floor. Carter led the ACC, as a freshman, in box score plus/minus!

Jarrett Culver - Texas Tech. 6'5" 190 frosh. SG. - Culver is among the best young wing defenders we have in college basketball. The freshman averages 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. His defensive rating (DEFRTG) is better than the Texas Tech team DEFRTG. He has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and he knocks down the three-point shot at 39.7%. Hopefully his shot making will continue to improve. His 64% FT stroke offers evidence he needs to be better at shooting the ball.

Monday's release...

Grayson Allen - Duke. 6'4" 195 SR. SG. - Allen is a player that provokes strong feelings from observers. Folks seem to mostly dislike him, with the exception of fans of the Blue Devils. Regardless of reputation, Allen is a good basketball player. He can knock down jumpers, find the open man, finish in transition, and he is willing to sacrifice his body for any loose ball. Depending on how many underclassmen stay in the draft, we view Allen as a mid-to-late second round selection.

Udoka Azubuike - Kansas. 7'0" 280 soph. C. - Azubuike is a Nigerian seven footer that rapidly improved from last season. He is a natural shot blocker and rebounder with NBA size and NBA athleticism. Most importantly, he has good hands, and he catches and finishes in the paint at an elite level. He is shooting 77% FG this season! Azubuike, while improving, is still a raw prospect by NBA standards. His range is limited and he is a poor decision maker and a awful free throw shooter (41% FT career). Negatives aside, Azubuike has enough potential that we would take a late first round flyer on him.

Marvin Bagley III - Duke. 6'11" 234 frosh. PF. - Bagley is a nimble BIG that averages 21.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. He was the 2017-18 ACC Player of the Year. Bagley has a quick second jump that allows him to score around the basket like very few can. He shoots 38% from 3-pt. range but is only a 62% free throw shooter. He will need to improve as a decision maker (presently 73 turnovers, versus 47 assists) to truly be a threat on the wing in the NBA on offense. In our opinion Bagley will be among the first four players selected in the NBA Draft.

Mikal Bridges - Villanova. 6'7" 191 jr. SF. - Bridges plays with poise and skill. He has made himself into a deadly three point shooter that hits 44% of his deep attempts. He moves without the basketball like a seasoned NBA player. He has an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio for a potential small forward. He is a career 84% free throw shooter. There is lots to like about Bridges' game, including the fact that he gets after it on defense. Bridges led the Big East two years in a row in box score plus/minus.