Yesterday we profiled the NBA stars of tomorrow play this month in the NCAA Tournament's West and Midwest region. Today we move onto the South and East, but we continue emphasizing the top tier candidates and those who could help address areas of needs for the Wizards.
There are intriguing prospects in the Field of 68, including Georgetown's Otto Porter and Indiana's inside-outside combo of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. but few (if any) that scouts are confident rock should they roll into the pro ranks next season. That's why teams do their homework, that's partly NBA fans watch intently the wall-to-wall games over the next three weeks. In this realm, Wizards fans are no exception.
Washington is lottery bound in round one, but also owns two second-round picks, its own and one acquired from the New York Knicks. Outside of a point guard and a perimeter shooting guard, the Wizards could really go in any direction with its first selection, though a small forward could be the call depending on what happens with Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza.
Other needs to ponder in the draft include an athletic 4/5 to use with 30-year-olds Nene and Emeka Okafor, who is signed through 2013-14; a wing with get-to-the-rim abilities that can play behind Bradley Beal; a backup point guard since A.J. Price and Garrett Temple are not signed beyond this season.
Click here for the West and Midwest region preview.
*The rankings come from Draft Express.com's Top-100 list. Also, the final list of eligible prospects will not become final until the weeks leading up to the June 27 draft.
South - Four of the top 10 ranked prospects are in this region, including Michigan's scoring point guard Trey Burke. Alas, the Wizards won't take a 6-foot point guard in the lottery so instead we focus on the other wing and athletic options.
2) Ben McLemore, Kansas, freshman, SG, 6-foot-4
In a tournament lacking must-watch talent from an NBA Draft perspective, McLemore could become the breakout star should his scoring carry the Jayhawks deep into the second weekend and beyond. However, the Wizards would more likely pass on taking another scoring guard high in the draft, especially since McLemore would be relegated to sixth-man role behind Bradley Beal.
3) Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, freshman, SF, 6-foot-6
For a team seeking a go-to scorer and their small forward of the future - like the Wizards - Muhammad is highly attractive prospect. Muhammad paced the enigmatic Bruins with 17.8 points while tacking on 5.3 rebounds and shooting 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Though a touch undersized, the 19-year-old has the wingspan of a 6' 11" player. Per his college coach, we already know the hard-working Muhammad is entering the draft.
8) Otto Porter, Georgetown, sophomore, SF, 6-foot-8
Porter went from Big East all-freshman snub to the conference's Player of the Year after raising his game to All-American levels and the Hoyas into the national contender conversation. Leads Georgetown in scoring, rebounding, steals and 3-point shooting. Stats aside, he has the rare ability to be the best player on the court without scoring and despite not being a shot blocker or a primary ball handler. With his all-court skills, high hoops IQ, perimeter range and tremendous defensive skills, Porter makes for an ideal with John Wall and Beal, arguably better than any other high-end prospect.
19) James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, sophomore, PF, 6-foot-9
The athletic big provides the Tar Heels with interior scoring and quickness. There are questions about his perimeter shooting limitations. Since the Wizards already have nimble forwards with limited range, hmmm.
Others: Trey Burke (10, PG, Michigan, So.), Glenn Robinson III (20, SF, Michigan, Fr.), Jamaal Franklin (27, SG, San Diego St., Jr.), Jeff Withey (31, C, Kansas, Sr.), Patric Young, 37, PF, Florida, Jr.),
East - More top-50 prospects (10) are in this region than the West and Midwest combined
4) Cody Zeller, Indiana, sophomore, C, 7-footer
The skill is obvious as are the basketball instincts and ability to run the floor. Does putting all that into a 7-foot translate into an NBA starting center? It might over time, but eventually Zeller must put on significant strength to bang with the pro bigs. Averaging 16.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Don't fret if he disappears for stretches in the tournament. That is more likely on Indiana's guards not feeding Zeller rather than him not staying active.
6) Anthony Bennett, UNLV, freshman, PF, 6-foot-8
The power-packed and uber athletic Bennett could carry the Running Rebels deep into the tournament. He's got the physique for such heavy lifting yet also sports perimeter touch (38 percent 3-point shooter). This might be a case where scouts look past him being a touch undersized for an NBA power forward because the upside NBA skill is so immense. However, playing Bennett alongside Nene would leave the Wizards without a rim protector.
7) Victor Oladipo, Indiana, junior, SG, 6-foot-5
The DeMatha product's high-rising, defensive stopping and getting-to-the-rim ways helped him climb the prospect charts. While selecting a wing-guard in the lottery is not the ideal call, the Wizards could ponder a Beal-Oladipo pairing since the duo offer differing skill sets.
15) Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, sophomore, 6-foot-5
The rangy playmaking prospect could be an interesting third-guard option for the Wizards if the team feels his outside shooting is viable enough for him to play alongside Wall. His 28.2 3-point shooting clip suggests it's not, at least not right now.
30) C.J. Leslie, NC State, junior, SF, 6-foot-8
Has been a prominent player for so long it's hard to believe Leslie is only a junior - and didn't play for the "survive and advance" Wolfpack. It would stun no one if the explosive leaper uses the NCAA's as a starring vehicle, but over time, he leaves observers wanting more. That's a trait you want in a comic, not in a serious prospect. Should he fall into the second round, would offer tremendous - wait for it - upside value.
Others: T.J. Warren (32, NC State, SF, freshman), Lorenzo Brown (35, NC State, PG, junior), Allen Crabbe (36, California, SF, junior), Mike Muscala (37, Bucknell, C, senior), Shane Larkin (40, Miami, PG, sophomore)