The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament saw a number of teams advance in surprising upsets behind breakout stars whose NBA Draft stock has seen a healthy March Madness bump.
Some of these players were on the radar already, like Oklahoma star Austin Reaves and LSU's Cameron Thomas. Both Reaves and Thomas' teams lost in the second round, but not before showcasing their shot-making skills that have drawn the attention of NBA scouts in recent months.
Some of these players were not on the radar, however thanks to big opening weekends, they've caught the eyes of scouts. Meanwhile, others don't fit tidily into either category after opening weekend flame-outs that saw several potential first-rounders struggle to perform in the big moment.
To digest it all, we've got an updated stock watch on some key risers and fallers who helped and hurt their prospects in the opening weekend. And you can check out the updated Top 25 Big Board here.
Helped their stock
Austin Reaves, Oklahoma
Oklahoma's most efficient offense in the NCAA Tournament -- and for much of the season -- was the give the ball to Austin Reaves and clear the heck out offense. It won the Sooners a tourney game and allowed them to give No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga a good scare in the second-round, too. By game's end it was clear that any shot not taken by Reaves was not a good one. Reaves scored 23 points and had six assists in a first-round win vs. No. 9 seed Missouri but his showing against the top-seeded Bulldogs was the real masterpiece. Against undefeated Gonzaga, he scored 27 points on 16 shots with a combination of attacks, pull-ups and general savvy that highlighted his feel and skill in a variety of ways.
Reaves' body control and ability to finish through contact on drives stands out. But so does his pull-up shooting, which rated in the 95th percentile on spot-up opportunities driving left and 97th percentile on opportunities driving right this season, per Synergy data. A player with his size and ability to knock shots down off movement has a role in the NBA and his college career acting both as a No. 1 scorer at OU and as an efficient 3-point specialist at Wichita State bodes well for his future as a pro.
There's a reason Max Abmas has earned the reputation as "midcourt Max."
Abmas is the nation's leading scorer from Summit League sensation Oral Roberts, which became the second-ever No. 15 seed ever to advance to the Sweet 16 with wins over Ohio State and Florida in the opening weekend. A 6-foot-1 sophomore, he doesn't neatly fit the profile of an NBA player because of his diminutive stature. But the sophomore can launch as well -- and more importantly, as deep -- as any player in the country.
He put on a shot-making show in two wins for ORU, scoring 29 and 26 against Ohio State and Florida, respectively. In those games he went an efficient 7-of-17 from 3-point range, which is especially remarkable given just how far off he's launching. But he also dictated pace and controlled games, rollicking to the rim when given space and dropping dimes to teammates when the opportunity presented itself. His vision, shot-making and feel makes him an interesting late-rising point guard prospect if he were to declare for 2021.
The Buddy Boeheim breakout has been in motion for over a month now after scoring 29, 21, 26, 27 and 31 in late ACC action. But on the big stage he's sustained that breakthrough and blossomed all the while as a legitimate prospect. Against No. 6 seed San Diego State he put on an offensive clinic, scoring 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting then backed it up with 25 points against third-seeded West Virginia on 17 shots. In that span, he's made 13 of his 23 outside shots.
Boeheim isn't just draining shots, he's doing so with a high degree of difficulty and -- to his credit -- Syracuse is making a Cinderella run that only elevates his profile. The variety of ways in which he can score not just as a spot-up shooter but off the dribble and running off screens heightens his ceiling as a potentially lethal shooting specialist in the NBA. Here's one of the many examples of how he can knock down shots off movement, which resembles how JJ Redick and other movement shooters have been able to carve out long NBA careers.
Others who helped their stock
Cam Thomas and Tre Mann both boosted their profiles in similar fashion with incredible displays of shot-making versatility. The leading scorers for LSU and Florida, respectively, both bowed out in the second round. But both went down swinging as Thomas scored 30 points in a loss to No. 1 seed Michigan and Mann -- who declared for the draft on Wednesday -- scored 19 points and grabbed seven boards in a loss to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts.
Hurt their stock
James Bouknight, UConn
Just a few games before suffering an elbow injury that required surgery and a lengthy recovery earlier this year, James Bouknight dropped 40 points on a top-10 Creighton team. Once he returned in mid-February, the Huskies won six of seven to solidify their NCAA Tournament credentials. But Bouknight couldn't save the day for UConn in the first round as it fell 63-54 to a worse-seeded Maryland. He scored 15 points and added five boards, but went 1-of-6 from 3 and 6-of-16 shooting from the field. It was an ugly game that could've been tipped in favor of UConn had Bouknight flashed the top-10 pick talent he possesses, but Maryland successfully swarmed and disrupted him with its length.
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
When he's in a groove, Ayo Dosunmu is a top-five most exciting player in college hoops. But in the rare event he's iced out -- which Loyola Chicago was able to do in the second round -- Dosunmu looks like just another guy on the court. So as he scored just nine points on 4-of-10 shooting in a stunning loss to the Ramblers (while committing six turnovers to two assists), it added to the complex case of Dosunmu's draft stock. He's a likely first-round pick, despite the hiccup. But if anything Dosunmu missed an opportunity to build his case as a potential lottery talent by failing to significantly affect the game as his team took a loss in upset fashion.
Greg Brown, Texas
Once considered a potential top-10 pick, Greg Brown was effectively phased out of Texas' rotation by the end of the season. He played just six minutes in Abilene Christian's stunning upset of Texas in the first round, and logged a combined 19 minutes the two games prior. Brown has athletic flash, is a terrific athlete and has shown some fantastic promise in spurts this season. But a former five-star recruit projected as a first-rounder barely seeing the court as Texas' season went down in flames doesn't exactly speak well of his impact right now and potentially in the early part of his NBA career. He's still a work in progress.
Others who hurt their stock
I'll cop out here and add two more names who, because of various circumstances, did not play in the NCAA Tournament. The first is Moses Wright of Georgia Tech. The reigning ACC Player of the Year did not participate in the NCAA Tournament because of COVID protocols, thwarting an opportunity for those who might've overlooked him this season to see him on the big stage. The second is Bones Hyland of VCU. The Rams were the only team in the first or second round of the tournament to be forced to no-contest because of COVID issues within their program. Both could have -- and I think would have -- shown some serious stuff and benefited from the spotlight of March Madness.