Friday, March 9, 2012

Under The Radar Prospects In The Madness

This is a great time of the year with the cold of Winter thawing away, Spring break approaching, and, of course March Madness. I wrote a speech for my public speaking class talking about how great the conference tournaments are in addition to the NCAA tournament, and then I realized I forgot to include one thing: draft prospects! March is the best time of the year for casual basketball fans to see some college players and pretend to know everything about their draft chances. I've already talked a lot about the lottery prospects, and now here are some of the under the radar players in this draft:

Kendall Marshall, PG. North Carolina: How is the best passer in college basketball under the radar you ask? Well, for one, he was left off the 1st team All-ACC team despite setting the conference single season assist record (It's tough to have FOUR 1st team players from one team, but how could you not have the best team's floor general on there?). I touched on Marshall's brilliance in the preseason, and he's mostly held to form. I've thought of him for a while as a left-handed Jason Kidd without the defensive impact, and that's become a popular comparison of late. I think he is a late lottery type of talent instead of the current late first rounder as most sites list him, but I'm biased.

He's not the best athlete, but he's a big guard at 6'4 who just has incredible court vision and is not afraid to make the difficult pass, especially in transition. His defense is lacking because of his lack of elite quickness with his size, but it also sometimes seems that he's not asked to compete too hard on that end because Carolina can't afford to have him get into foul trouble. The other major criticism is that the lack of a jump shot, but I think he gets too much of a bad rap on that front. He'll make the open 3's when opponents double team his teammates, and he's shooting it with a lot more confidence. He's been looking for his own offense with more aggressiveness lately, and that's a great sign for the Tar Heels.
You know you're getting a good floor general with Marshall Law.

Tony Mitchell, SF/PF. North Texas: I've long been intrigued by Mitchell because he was one of Missouri's most highly touted recruits in a long time, but he had to transfer to North Texas due to academic issues. He currently has a late first round grade due to a lack of exposure, but he is definitely worth a flier with his explosiveness and length. Unfortunately, he won't get the necessary exposure in the NCAA tournament because he missed a critical box out late in the Sun Best championship game against Western Kentucky that cost his team a chance at a victory to go to the big dance. Still, he is exactly the type of combo forward that could come in and score off the bench for a team like the Thunder (hint hint).

[Funny story that's not that funny: I felt a strange sense of connection to both teams when watching that Sun Belt championship on Tuesday. Back in high school, I received letters and emails from North Texas, and my dad implored me to apply there as a "backup backup." I didn't apply because there was absolutely no way I was going all the way to Texas for school, but the thought was nice.

As for Western Kentucky, I actually met some girls from there just this past weekend. I saw group of cute girls at this party, approached one of them that I liked, and proceeded to compliment her on her nice dress. She was flattered and asked for my name before telling me she was visiting her cousin for spring break. I was shocked that she was from WKU and had to think for a moment before noting that she's a Hilltopper, which she was shocked that I knew and had to call a friend over tell about. Later I was introduced to said cousin who goes here, who's a Kentucky Wildcats fan instead of the Hilltoppers, and some John Wall dance action ensued. Unfortunately, one of the other friends was insistent on going to the upstairs portion of the party, and I later saw the girl I was talking to leaving with another guy and friends. I didn't quite share their enthusiasm when they said bye and how nice it was to meet, but it was cool seeing WKU win the Sun Belt championship  after meeting these girls I'll never see again. Sports knowledge coming in handy with girls at a party, what a novelty!]

Will Lillard be the first point guard taken?
Damian Lillard, PG. Weber State: Like Mitchell, the penetrating point guard from Oakland lost in his conference championship game, but not without leaving a strong impression with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Lillard has a chance to go in the lottery due to a lack of elite point guard prospects in this draft and because he is plain good. He's not a pure point guard, but you can't blame him for scoring so much on a team that lacks elite scoring options. He has good size (6-2, 185), great quickness, and a nice perimeter game with shooting range past the three point line. I wish I could have been able to see more of him, especially against the tougher competition that would have come with the NCAA tournament.

Arnett Moultrie, PF/C. Mississippi State: Moultrie is on the bubble as to whether he'll make the tournament and if he'll be a first round pick. In his first year playing after transferring from UTEP, he has broken out in a big way thanks to his athleticism and size at 6'11 with a nice frame to add more strength. He's great at scoring without the ball, especially from offensive rebounds. While not a great post player, he has progressed as a shooter and is a very good free throw shooter for a big man. He has potential on the defensive end, but he's inconsistent in this area, with his strong rebounding being his best asset. He could definitely rise as the draft gets closer.

No comments:

Post a Comment