The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is all about crowning an eventual champion, filling out your bracket, and watching (and praying) for the big upsets.
However, it also plays a vital role in NBA scouts finalizing their reports on several players. They for players showing their clutch ability (or lack thereof), their athleticism, and their ability to perform at a high level against fierce, win-or-go-home competition.
The longer a player plays, the better his chances are at getting a solid selection. The more of an impact he has, the better he looks for it.
Read on for 10 guys who scouts possibly are not quite decided on just yet, and if they can prove any of their remaining doubters wrong.
Jon Scheyer, PG/SG, Duke
Scheyer opens the tournament with his team as a one seed, so barring ridiculous circumstances and a first-round loss, we will get to see at least two games with Scheyer controlling the Duke offense.
We already know that he is an extremely smart player with a soft stroke, great range, along with great court vision.
Scheyer has the ball in his hands for the majority of the game, and still averages less than two turnovers per game. He has been able to raise his level of play near the end of games, and he has even developed into a solid defender.
However, this year’s tourney will need Scheyer to show that he can be stronger and more effective on an elite level, against tougher competition. A long journey into the tourney could go a long way in promoting Scheyer as a potential first-rounder come June.
Scottie Reynolds, PG/SG, Villanova
For Reynolds, shooting and scoring is far from an issue. Both are his greatest strengths, as he has the handle and athleticism to get his shot off anywhere he wants, to go along with the quickness to get to the rim and finish in a variety of ways.
However, his lack of size, elite athleticism, and true point guard skills hold him down as an NBA prospect.
Until he proves he can run a team, he can only be regarded as a small guard who can score off the bench. He needs to show better control, vision, and decision-making in this year’s tournament, all while still carrying the scoring load and helping Villanova advance.
Rautins is a lights-out shooter with decent athleticism and sound fundamentals and versatility. His main knock is his one-dimensional offensive approach, as well as untested defensive and athletic abilities.
Syracuse plays a fantastic 2-3 zone defense, which shows Rautins’ excellent team defense, but does not allow scouts to get a great feel of his one-on-one defense. He appears to have the lateral quickness and overall athleticism needed to both score and defend at the next level, but it still is far from a sure thing.
His main offensive knock is the fact that he is an elite shooter, but it might be all he does on an elite level. He has shown in spurts an ability to create for himself and attack the basket, but the fact that he does this very rarely is either attributed to him not being able to physically do it, or it reflects the Orange’s system.
Rautins is also an excellent passer, with great vision, but he needs to show more control and better decision-making under pressure. For example, he dished out 10 assists in a loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament, but also turned the ball over nine times. That simply cannot continue to happen.
Regardless of any flaws, if Rautins comes up big, hits clutch shots, and plays his expected huge role in a long Syracuse stay in the tourney, he could be looking at a spot in the first round.
Lazar Haywood, SF, Marquette
Haywood is a fantastic shooter and solid scorer, but clearly is not an elite athlete, and can sometimes struggle with creating his own shot and scoring outside of set shots.
He has great size and strength, but his lack of elite athleticism and explosiveness probably puts him at the small forward spot at the next level, rather than shooting guard.
He has shown an ability to make clutch shots, but other than his scoring ability, he has failed to stand-out significantly as an NBA prospect.
If he can start showing an ability to make plays, rebound at an elite level, or display increased court vision, his stock could quickly be on the rise.
Trevon Hughes, PG/SG, Wisconsin
Hughes is a tough player to grade. Athletically and fundamentally, he is your ideal basketball player. He has solid range on his jumper, possessing the athleticism and lift to get his shot off wherever he wants, whenever he wants.
He has a great handle and solid explosiveness, which allows him to burst through holes, penetrate the defense, and get to the rim with ease.
Despite his great feel for the game and solid package of athleticism and scoring ability, he has two glaring flaws.
He does not have ideal size for the NBA shooting guard position, and has nowhere near the point guard skills he will need to take over and man a team at the next level.
On top of that, while he has the ability to score and shoot the lights out, his overall percentages are not where they should be. He tends to be a fairly streaky performer.
However, improved decision-making and performance in the tourney making point guard plays could help his stock. If not, he will be a second-rounder in this year’s draft, and a scorer off the bench at the next level, at best.
Fredette is another one of those mid-major guys who blows you away with his ability to shoot the ball and score at will, but he still has questions surrounding his athleticism and strength.
Offensively, the only person who can stop Fredette is himself. The range on his jumper appears to be endless, and when his shot is not falling, he has shown time and time again that he has more than enough athleticism to create for himself and get to the rim.
He has also shown more and more over the past year that he has solid potential as an NBA point guard, as his under-rated handle and athleticism allow him to get around defenders and make plays in traffic.
Because of his status as a star on a mid-major, Fredette likely needs one or two wins in this year’s tournament to remind everyone of the feeling he gave them when he dropped 49 points on Arizona last December.
You will not find a more fiery and determined competitor than Vasquez, and while this is a great asset of his, it can also be taken as cockiness or arrogance.
Vasquez may need an attitude adjustment, but fundamentally, he has all the tools and ability needed to be a solid player at the next level.
While he does not have elite range or consistency on his jumper, he does have the potential to be a threat from outside, and still has excellent driving and creating ability. He has an under-rated handle and solid length and athleticism, allowing him to routinely beat his man, which also allows him to create for his teammates.
Vasquez has also shown the ability to show up in big games, and has displayed the willingness (or even eagerness) to take the big shots at the end of games.
He needs to get stronger and more consistent, but a solid showing in this year’s tournament could finally toss him into first-round consideration, where his size and talent suggests that he belongs.
For daily fantasy sports games, head over to Fantazzle.com