The NCAA Tournament is an opportunity for players to bolster their NBA Draft stock. Here are 10 players who could help or hurt theirs.
There’s nothing quite like March Madness. Upsets, Cinderellas, and future NBA stars are part of what makes the NCAA Tournament so great.
With the college season winding down and the NBA Draft coming down the pike, let’s take a look at 10 players who can help or hurt their draft stock in the NCAA Tournament.
5 Players Who Can Help Their Draft Stock
Corey Kispert — SF — Gonzaga
Gonzaga appears destined for a deep run into the NCAA Tournament this year. Barring an early upset, Corey Kispert will have more time to build on his already impressive season. The sharpshooter has shot up draft boards this year and hitting a few big shots in the Final Four would definitely help his draft stock in the long run.
James Bouknight — SG — UConn
James Bouknight is a guy who is a projected lottery pick right now. He could vault himself even higher on draft boards with a few big games in the NCAA Tournament. Bouknight is the piece that makes it all work for UConn. When they need a big bucket, Bouknight is the guy they turn to.
We have seen this story before. A UConn guard leads the Huskies on a deep NCAA Tournament run which in turn boosts their own draft stock. Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier are two names that come to mind.
Ayo Dosunmu — G — Illinois
Ayo Dosunmu is one of the best college basketball players in the country, but he’s projected to go somewhere in the late first round or early second in the draft. The junior is averaging 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game this season.
It’s unlikely that Dosunmu raises his draft stock to the point where he’s in the teens, but he is going to have more than enough opportunity to cement his status as a first-rounder.
Luka Garza — C — Iowa
Luka Garza is the runaway favorite to win Naismith Player of the Year, but NBA Draft scouts don’t love the big man’s game. His lack of athleticism and footspeed is seen as a problem for Garza going forward. The slow, plodding big man has fallen out of fashion in the NBA.
Still, Garza is projected to go somewhere in the middle of the second round. That leaves plenty of room for him to fly up draft boards. Garza is shooting over 40% from deep this season and a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament could be enough of a push to get him towards the top of the second round — or maybe even late in the first round.
Franz Wagner — SF — Michigan
Franz Wagner is looking to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Moritz. The elder Wagner saw his NBA Draft stock skyrocket when Michigan made its run to the Final Four. Could the younger brother be in for a similar surge this time around?
Franz Wagner is already a potential top-10 pick in this year’s draft, but he can cement his status as a bonafide lottery pick with a strong showing in March.
5 Players Who Can Hurt Their Draft Stock
Cade Cunningham — PG — Oklahoma State
If you are doing a double-take after seeing Cade Cunningham on this list, let me explain. Cunningham is an absolute stud and it’s becoming almost a given that he is going to go first overall when Adam Silver makes his way up to the podium to announce the pick.
But that’s exactly why we have Cunningham here. At this point, he really can’t help his draft stock at all. He’s already the consensus top pick, and for good reason.
Evan Mobley — C — USC
Evan Mobley, much like Cunningham, has already asserted himself near the top of this draft class. Any team in need of a center at the top of the lottery would love to grab Mobley as a franchise cornerstone.
Still, he can’t really help his draft stock at this point in time. Mobley is the likely No. 2 overall pick — depending on the team drafting — and doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone.
Jalen Suggs — PG — Gonzaga
Although Suggs falls into the same category as Mobley and Cunningham, he has the best shot of the three to help his draft stock. Right now, Suggs looks like he will round out the top three of the draft, following the selections of Cunningham and Mobley.
Gonzaga is built to go on a deep run, but they have so many talented players on the roster that it’s possible Suggs is overshadowed on the big stage. We don’t expect that to happen, but it’s a definite possibility.
Moses Moody — SG — Arkansas
Moses Moody is one of the best prospects that most NBA fans probably haven’t seen much of this season. The long and athletic freshman guard is projected to be a fringe lottery pick after being named an honorable mention AP All-American.
However, Moody could miss out on the opportunity to assert himself on the biggest stage in college basketball. Arkansas will play Colgate in the second game of the first round. That’s an upset special waiting to happen. Essentially, Moody could be out of the NCAA Tournament before it really gets going.
Jalen Green/Jonathan Kuminga — G League Ignite
OK, this is technically cheating, but we had to include Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga on this list. The two potential top-five picks skipped college to join the G League Ignite. Both guys were impressive during the G League bubble, further bolstering their cases to be top-five picks.
However, the G League does not grab eyeballs quite like the NCAA Tournament. They will be watching March Madness just like the rest of us. There is definitely potential for others to grab the limelight while Green and Kuminga are sitting on their couch.