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Tag:NCAA tournament
Posted on: March 19, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2011 10:34 pm
 

Prospect Watch: Knight and Jimmer shine to the 16

Posted by Royce Young



Jimmer Fredette, BYU: 34 points, 11-23 from the floor, 7-13 from 3

As mentioned after Fredette and BYU's opening win Thursday, he's got a long way to go defensively to put NBA general managers at ease in picking him. Against Gonzaga, he was entirely content letting his man go around him and never really fought hard through a screen. This may be a strategic move by BYU though to try and save Fredette's legs for offense and even to keep him out of foul trouble. I remember the Oklahoma Sooners doing something similar with Blake Griffin which raised concerns about his man-to-man defense abilities. And I think he turned out fine. So that's something to consider.

What was impressive about Fredette's 34 is that the Zags put a really good defender in Steven Gray on him. Gray is bigger than Fredette, long and probably more athletic. Yet Jimmer was able to get off almost any shot he wanted at any time, and even muscled his way into the paint for some points on Gray. I'm sure NBA scouts were impressed with that.

Two things about Jimmer's awesome offensive game:

1) He's going to be able to score in the NBA. I have no doubt With that crossover and that ability to drive, added to the fact he can hit from 30 feet, Fredette will be able to get shots off. Stephen Curry's game translated to the NBA and I don't doubt Fredette's will. People have compared him to J.J. Redick but I don't really see that because people didn't fear Redick's drive near as much.

2) Fredette needs to watch some tape on Tony Parker. One thing Jimmer won't get away with at the next level is the way he tries to lay the ball home in traffic. He prefers to scoop the ball and had his shot blocked by Gonzaga multiple times in the paint. He needs to kind of figure out that sly move Parker uses to create space with bump, then lean in as you lay it up, using your body to create space.

Brandon Knight, Kentucky: 30 points on 9-20 shooting

It was a career day for Knight who really showed off how much skill he has and why he was considered the top recruit in the country by so many. What I liked about his game Saturday was how in rhythm he stayed throughout. He picked spots to shoot 3s, picked good times to drive and found teammates too (four assists).

Knight has a pretty complete offensive game with a solid floater, a good jumper, great quickness and range out to the 3. West Virginia had no chance to check him mainly because he was hitting from deep. Knight hasn't shot the ball that well all season, but remember, this is a young, 19-year-old kid. He has a lot of room to improve. He's already a likely lottery pick but his showcase Saturday may help him move into the top 10, and maybe top seven.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:39 pm
 

Prospect Watch: Irving makes triumphant return

How did some of the NBA's top prospects do the first Friday of the NCAA tournament? Posted by Ben Golliver.
kyrie-irving


Kyrie Irving, Duke: 14 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block

The projected No. 1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft delighted college and pro basketball fans alike with news that he would make his return to the court during the first round of the NCAA tournament. As Irving hadn't touched the court since December due to a toe injury, the pre-game questions were more about how he would fit in chemistry-wise rather than how polished his play would be after all the time off. 

On both counts Irving's Friday performance was a smashing success, although his fill-up-the-boxscore effort came against much weaker competition. As Irving has nowhere to go but down when it comes to his draft stock, he didn't really show scouts anything he hasn't shown before. However, he did look like his normal self and that's enough for just about everyone. More dimes in the next round will have everyone breathing totally easy once again. For more on Irving, check out this column for CBSSports.com by Eric Angevine.

Harrison Barnes, UNC: 24 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals

The rout was on for North Carolina on day one as they rolled up 102 points en route to hammering Long Island University. Barnes' stat line was impressive but his efficiency wasn't exactly consistent, as he shot 7-9 on two-point field goals while bombing away (errantly) to the tun of 2-10 from downtown. Still, his highlight reel smoothness with the ball in his hands was evident and he compensated for his quick trigger by hitting the glass hard. 

Something to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses: turnovers. Barnes finished with a team-high four on Friday, understandable given it was his first taste of the tournament stage as a freshman. Possessions are a premium at the next level, though, especially for top-flight wing scorers that need touches in volume. 

Derrick Williams, Arizona: 22 points, 10 rebounds, one block

It's safe to say that Williams, a versatile forward, won the highlight of the day as he helped secure a dramatic victory in a back-and-forth game with Memphis by blocking a last-second shot attempt. It was his only block of the night, but plays like that have a way of enduring in the memory, especially if Arizona can mount a bit of a run through their region. 

Williams scored 22 points on just 11 shots, hitting all nine of his free throws and exerting his physical presence against a smaller Memphis team. He showed the ability to finish while taking contact and also stepped out to confidently knock down the only three-pointer that he attempted. He displayed the full offensive arsenal.

For more on Williams, check out CBSSports.com's Eye on College Basketball Blog.

Tristan Thompson, Texas: 17 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks, one assist

Thompson will almost certainly be a late riser up the NBA mock draft boards this spring as his solid frame, elite timing and aggressive attitude will translate excellently to the pro game. His seven blocks were certainly not by accident, as his long arms and quick springs let him contest and alter shots many other players would simply watch go over their heads.

Thompson essentially traded baskets and rebounds with Oakland senior Keith Benson, a player to whom he gives up three inches of height. Thompson's length and instincts more than make up for his average height for a power forward (6'8") and his ability to get low to establish rebounding position is essential at the next level. His buzz will only grow stronger.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Friday March Madness prospects to watch

Posted by Royce Young



If you missed Thursday's bunch, be sure to catch up.

Kyrie Irving, Duke:
After word got out Irving was set to play in Duke's opening round game, I would imagine about 300 scouts changed their flights and credential requests to get to the Blue Devils' game.

Irving has sat out most of Duke's season with an injured toe and as a player projected by many to be the top overall pick, this is a chance to finally get a look at him.

He's a dynamic point guard that's smooth with the ball, makes great decisions and can score at the basket. He's not as fast as John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose or even Kemba Walker, but Irving is always under control and he has a great change of pace.

Nobody will have eyes closer on him than Irving. He might not play much but every step he takes will be recorded and dissected. In the limited minutes he gets, if he plays well and just does what he did in those first seven games of the season, he'll likely cement himself as the No. 1 overall pick.

Plays vs. Hampton (3:10 ET, truTV)

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Here's your big man to build around. He's not huge at just 6-8, but he's wide, strong and athletic. He's always active, has great hands and has some offensive game to him.

He's a top-five pick for sure but he's also the type of guy that could push for the top spot with a couple strong efforts. He's the backbone to the best team in the country and the No. 1 overall seed. He mainly scores in the paint so a jumper is needed in his development, but there's always time for that as he's just 19.

Plays vs. Texas-San Antonio (4:40, TNT)

Derrick Williams, Arizona: Williams has sort of climbed his way up a lot of draft boards the past few months, showcasing a well-rounded game that features him inside and out.

He's big at 6-8, but has a nice touch. He's a good college 3-point shooter and while he'll likely extend out and be a threat there in the NBA, he's going to be a terrific pick-and-pop option. Where he lacks is rebounding and interior defense. He'll likely play power forward at the next level and he's not really built to handle a lot of the NBA's big men. He reminds be a bit of Jeff Green in a way.

He's caught a bit in between because he might not be quick enough to play small forward, but no big enough for power. He'll be fine though because of his unique offensive skills though.

Plays vs. Memphis (2:45, CBS)

John Henson, North Carolina:
Nobody needs to eat a hamburger quite as much as Henson. He's rail thin and that's the No. 1 thing holding him back. He needs to add muscle, and a lot of it.

The comparisons to former Tar Heel teammate Ed Davis are natural because they're built similar and play close to the same way. Both are limited offensively but have great length and terrific instincts. He has a ways to go before he makes an impact in the NBA, but the skills are there. He just has to be developed.

Plays vs. LIU (7:15, CBS)

Jordan Hamilton, Texas: Hamilton overcame his biggest issue this season in that he had no idea how to play with four other guys on the floor. Coach Rick Barnes constantly was pulling Hamilton out of games last season to try and get his attention for taking wild, contested shots. Nobody encapsulated "ball hog" more than Hamilton.

But he fixed things this season and turned into one of the nation's most efficient and deadly scorers. He can shoot which is probably his greatest weapon. When you're big like Hamilton (6-7) and can hit 3s like he does, you're going to have a next level chance.

He's improved in getting to the line and scoring from mid-range, which is what makes him intriguing. He's hard to figure because it's hard to tell if his scoring abilities will translate. He's a natural scorer and by the looks of it will make a good pro. But a strong tourney could definitely create a little more buzz.

Plays vs. Oakland (12:15, CBS)

Marcus Morris, Kansas:
This is prospects to watch and that will be a challenge with Morris because you won't be able to tell if you're looking at him or his twin brother Markieff. Both are good, but Marcus is more of the high first-round NBA talent. (Though Markieff will likely go in the first 30 picks too.)

He's a solid 6-9 big man with college 3-point range, ball-handling skills and solid athleticism. He's going to be a good pro, it's just a question of how good.

Plays versus Boston (6:50, TBS)
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 17, 2011 10:13 pm
 

Prospect Watch: Walker shows off all-around game

Posted by Royce Young



How did some of the NBA's top prospects do on the opening day with scouts eying them from every angle? Here's a look at four:

Jimmer Fredette, BYU: 32 points on 10-25 shooting

The question about Fredette's post-college career isn't about his offense. That's good, always. So with an eye to the other end Thursday night, how'd he do?

So-so.

I've watched BYU play seven or eight times this season and I haven't seen Fredette work as hard on the defensive end as he did Thursday against Wofford. The BYU defensive system doesn't call for great individual man-to-man coverage, but I saw Fredette actually closing and contesting on shooters multiple times. The thing about defense is that often times, it's not all about your size, speed and length. A lot of the time, it's about how hard you work. Are you committed to that end or are you saving it?

Fredette appeared relatively committed, at least compared to past efforts. He's going to score in any situation because that's what he does. As the tournament goes on, keeping an eye toward the end where Fredette hasn't built his reputation is key when talking about his next level success.

Kemba Walker, Connecticut: 18 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds

Competition is key in keeping perspective. The Huskies basically dominated an overmatched opponent. But what was impressive about Walker's effort is how he kept his head and never tried to take over, despite what he did in the Big East tournament.

The inclination for any great player is to try and dominate everything offensively. But Walker, who is a bit of a tweener in terms of the NBA, showed off his all-around game in the opening round. He finished with 12 assists, hit the boards and scored 18 on only 11 shots. He picked spots to do damage.

Walker has the quicks and with an above average jumper, will be a pretty good pro. But it's about where he fits. Is he a scoring 2 or a distributing point guard? Or a combo like Russell Westbrook or Monta Ellis? I think he can tilt more towards an Ellis type of player and that's likely where most teams will try and stick him and Thursday, he showed he's capable of settling in and owning a game without shooting 18 or 20 times.

Patric Young, Florida: Six points, six rebounds in 13 minutes

Not bad for the Florida frosh, but he's more about upside. Honestly, not a ton to take away from this effort. It was an overmatched opponent and the Gators jumped on them early and often. Young looked comfortable, but he's still so incredibly unpolished offensively.

A lot of people see some Ekpe Udoh in him. He's long, athletic and has an NBA body. He's the type of player than can see his stock jump if he can put up some big numbers in the upcoming rounds.

Jon Leuer, Wisconsin: 22 points on 7-12 shooting, seven rebounds

Maybe the most impressive showcase came from Wisconsin's lanky forward. He's so incredibly consistent and his offensive game is polished. He scores inside and out and all of that was on display in Wisconsin's dominant win over Belmont.

Right now, Leuer is projected to go somewhere in the late first or early second round, but that's mainly because he hasn't caught a lot of eyes. He's not flashy. But he's one of the nation's most consistent scorers and he does it oh so efficiently. He needs some bulk, but he's off to a strong start in the tournament. He's the type of player that can win over some scouts with a couple more strong efforts.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Thursday's NCAA Tournament top draft prospects

A look at the NBA draft prospects playing Thursday in the NCAA tournament. 
Posted by Matt Moore




March Madness. One of the greatest sporting events of the year, where emotions run high and so do the office pools. But the tournament also serves as a reminder to us pro-ball types that the draft isn't that far away, and gives us the best opportunity to see the prospects in a high-profile scenario, under the brightest lights. It's also the first time a lot of NBA fans will pay attention to these players, period. So with that, here's a guide to the players to watch out for in Thursday's first-round games.*

*Sorry, not going to treat the play-ins like a round. They're their own thing, like Neopolitan ice cream.

The "Big name on the marquee" Guy: Kemba Walker, G, UConn
Walker is that guy who all your friends will ask you about in terms of the NBA. "That guy can just play" will be a common phrase. What they really mean is "That guy can really score in college," which is not the same thing at all. This isn't to say that Walker hasn't been phenomenal dropping huge scoring numbers all season and especially in the Big 10 tournament. The questions will be about Walker's ability to translate into an NBA guard at his size. Walker's 6-1 officially (beware the "official" numbers), and that kind of size causes problems for 2-guards (ask O.J. Mayo). Walker's most readily compared to Rondey Stuckey and Jonny Flynn, but defensively, O.J. Mayo may be comparable. Mayo's a shooting gaurd who gets overwhelmed by the size of NBA 2s. Offensively, though, the Flynn-Stuckey comparisons are sound, but have their issues as well. From SBNation's Mike Prada: 
The issue with Walker, though, is something that we've touched on before on this site. Walker, at this point, is essentially a six-foot shooting guard. The comparisons to former Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn, who rode a similar surge in the Big East Tournament two years ago into an ill-fated high lottery selection, are obvious. They are different players, but those differences don't exactly clear up the Kemba puzzle. Walker carries a much more significant load for his team than Flynn does, but he also scored less efficiently and dished out far fewer assists, as we noted. Walker all commits far fewer turnovers, which is a feather in his cap, but also a byproduct, in a way, of his increased usage i.e. he'll occasionally shoot a bad shot instead of committing a turnover, which is better, but not by much.
via Kemba Walker Is A Household Name Before 2011 NCAA Tournament, But Is He An NBA Player? - SBNation.com.

Interestingly, on offense, Walker has the great numbers you'd expect, but Synergy Sports reveals a few interesting facets. For starters, UConn runs a lot of pick and roll with Walker, his second highest play count. He's great at drawing fouls in that set, but that can partially be attributed to the kind of pick and roll defense in college. He shoots just 36% in that set, which is pretty good, but not nearly the 42% he runs off-screen or the 52% off the cut. In short, Walker's a better shooter in catch-and-shoot situations than he is with the ball in his hands (39%). (All numbers courtesty of Synergy Sports.)  
All this won't keep Walker from going top-10, however, since as your friend says, "Man, that guy can (score)." 

Expected Selection: DX: 8 NBADraft.net: 22

Plays: vs. Bucknell, 7:20 p.m. (TNT)

The "Did that guy break the rim? Because I think that guy broke the rim" Guy: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky

Jones is your prototypical hyper-athletic big who throws down the occasional dunk to make you fear him the way primitive homo sapiens feared lightning. He's also your prototypical tweener who thinks he has a better mid-range than he does. As Tom Ziller at SBNation notes: 
He creates his own shot well; according to Kenpom.com, Jones takes 28 percent of Kentucky's shots when on the court, more than even trigger-happy guard Brandon Knight. Jones is OK at getting to the line -- he won't be a Carmelo Anthony/LeBron Jamesstyle foul-drawer, certainly, but he'll get to the stripe -- and a rather inefficient scorer in total. It's hard to see how Jones could ever become a really efficient scorer at the NBA level -- you can see it in Barnes and Williams, but not Jones. His three-point shot is suspect (though he started the year very well) and despite being Kentucky's best paint option, he relies on his mid-range jumper quite a bit. If that continues, it'll depress his field goal percentage and free throw rate, hurting his value.
via Terrence Jones Looks To Squelch Concerns In 2011 NCAA Tournament - SBNation.com.

Jones has a .64 points per possession mark in the post, and shoots 33% there. That's really, really bad, even among college players who lack footwork, coordination, touch, and a basic understanding of the properties of space.  Jones could really use a better distributing point guard to create opportunities for him, but that's not really Brandon Knight's bag. Jones' defense could be what really helps his stock in the tournament, though. Jones is an elite defender in the post this year, allowing just 32% shooting and fouling just 11% of the time. That's big time stuff. 

In the pros, however, he may be undersized, which means those shooting numbers have to go up, and his ability to defend ISO has to improve. Jones is in the exciting but dangerous area, where if things go right he's a big that can do multiple things, and if they go wrong, he's a wing who can't play in space. 

Expected Selection: DX: 9 NBADraft.net: 11

Plays: vs. Princeton 2:45 p.m. EST (CBS)

The "Gosh, the other Calipari guards were so good" Guy. Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Here's the deal with Knight. Your standard point guards that come out of the Calipari's system are athletic wonders who have tremendous speed and vision but can't shoot worth a lick. Brandon Knight is an athletic talent with underwhelming vision who's shooting 44% from the field and 39% from 3-point range this season. That ain't bad. According to Synergy Sports, Knight shot 49% in ISO, 40% in spot-up, and drew shooting fouls 12% of the time in transition. 

So for teams looking at him, if they want someone with upside, Knight may not be the guy. Averaging 4 assists per game, he's more of a scoring point guard. But for teams that want someone who can come in and produce points immediately, he's a good fit. In a system where the point guard isn't the primary playmaker, Knight could be a great fit. And his athleticism is such to see some considerable upside in terms of attack. It's the assist-turnover ratio you have to worry about. If Knight isn't drafted into the right situation, he could struggle. 

Expected Selection: DX: 16 NBADraft.net: 13

The "Jimmer" Guy: Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

22-years old. Beware the 22-year-old senior. Guys with limited improvement potential are scary for first-round picks. But, I mean, it's Jimmer. I don't have to explain to you who Jimmer is. But I'll throw some numbers out for you. If you throw the ball to Jimmer spot-up? He hits it more than he misses. No matter where. He shoots 55% in spot-up situations. Creating a shot off the dribble, he shoots 39% in ISO situations, despite having to do so 27% of the time he's on the floor and being the primary offensive weapon for BYU with no one close as a second option in terms of effectiveness. He's a monster shooter, there's no other way to put it. 

Defensively, that's the rub. Fredette's limited in size, athleticism, speed, savvy, and ability. There's little options for his improvement, and if he can't, he's looking at being too much of a liability at the NBA level to justify keeping him on the floor as a shooter. From DX's profile: 
The biggest concern about Fredette's transition to the NBA clearly lies on the defensive end. He is a poor defender, even at the college level, showing average length, heavy feet and unimpressive lateral quickness. He rarely gets into an actual defensive stance, fails to get a hand up on shooters and shows little interest in trying to fight through screens. The same laid-back approach that makes him so difficult to get off-kilter offensively is a serious detriment to his work on the other end, potentially making him a liability in the NBA. With all this in mind, one of the biggest factors in determining the type of success Fredette will have in the NBA is the team he ends up on. In a fast-paced offense predicated on getting shots early in the shot-clock and a coach willing to live with defensive lapses, Fredette will be an incredible weapon. Put him in the wrong system, though, with a team that likes to grind it out and a coach who demands perfection on every defensive possession and we could be looking at a disaster.
via DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Jimmer Fredette, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook.

The best option for him? Model himself after Duke legend J.J. Redick. Redick suffered for two years trying to get any level of appreciation from Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy told him to improve on defense, so Redick committed himself 100% while retaining his natural shooting ability and adding muscle. As a result, Redick is a terrific perimeter defender, the best defender of Ray Allen I've seen in the league. He works constantly, and without complaint, and can also Heat up from the perimeter. Fredette can gain a lot by looking to Redick as a model, even if he's not as athletically gifted as Redick. 
Expected Selection: DX: 17 NBADraft.net: 10
Plays: vs. Wofford, 7 p.m. EST (CBS)
Posted on: March 16, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 7:28 pm
 

LeBron picks OSU... also Duke in tournament

LeBron James picks Ohio State... and Duke in his NCAA brackets. 
Posted by Matt Moore

LeBron James did something outrageously duplicitous Wednesday, which will likely spur fans of his in Ohio in light of a shocking betrayal. No, not that one. Another one. A new one. Kind of. 

Remember how we told you that LeBron picked Ohio State in the NCAA tournament? Well, on Wednesday, LeBron revealed his bracket on his website, and um, well, er...
He picked Duke

Specifically, he picked Duke over Ohio State in the Final Four, along with Lousville over Pitt, with Duke toppling Pittsburgh in the Final. Typical. He picks an east coast team over his home-state Buckeyes. When asked about the pick Wednesday, LeBron told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel "I got two brackets. My heart wants Ohio State, of course." 

Perhaps the bigger revelation here is that LeBron is one of those annoying dudes who fills out more than one bracket, covering his bases while still trying to act bold about his favorite team. If that's his favorite team this week. Those people are so annoying, constantly working out multiple entries with different picks in the hopes of scamming home the prize money. What kind of a person does that? 

This kind of person, that's who. That's right. I love the multiple brackets. It's like playing some sort of choose-your-own-adventure game, only you get to lose $40 instead of just $10 because you managed to not pick the one 12-5 upset. It's a brilliant game of contingencies and why wouldn't you want to increase your odds by increasing your own number of entries? After all, you're increasing the prize pool at the same time. Screw you for judging us. LeBron is a saint to speak out for us, the multiple-bracket-enterers. 

You're going to throw things, now, aren't you?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com