clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A look at the top NBA prospects in the NCAA Tournament

This year's NCAA Tournament is loaded with top-shelf NBA talent, players with transcendent skill sets that will make them top picks in the upcoming NBA draft — should they declare. There are gifted scorers, elite shooters and masterful passers. There are also sweet-shooting big men and double-double machines that control the paint and protect the rim.

The first weekend of the Big Dance gives fans the opportunity to see future NBA stars firsthand to see if their games match the hype.

Here is a look at the top prospects playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Note: Projected top 10 picks Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith and Robert Williams didn't make the NCAA Tournament.

Lonzo Ball, freshman, guard, UCLA

While his dad gets much of the attention in the family for the things he says, Ball is the real deal. He is an excellent distributor with fantastic court vision who has been the perfect fit for the Bruins' offense. He is also an efficient scorer who shoots it well from all over the floor, even though his shot is funky looking.

On the season, he led the NCAA with 7.7 assists a night while averaging 14.6 points on 54.4 percent shooting from the floor. He also chipped in with 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 34.9 minutes.

Jayson Tatum, freshman, forward, Duke

After he missed the first eight games of the season, Tatum returned to action and showed what all the fuss was about. He is a solid scoring wing who has the handles of a guard and the rebounding skills of a big man. He had his best stretch of the season during the ACC Tournament where he averaged 22 points on 55.4 percent shooting from the floor as the Blue Devils won four games in four days to take home the title.

On the season, he averaged 16.9 points on 45.3 percent shooting with 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 33.2 minutes.

Josh Jackson, freshman, forward, Kansas

Jackson is an impressive athlete who can get it done on both ends of the floor. Even though he has an inconsistent shot from beyond the arc he still shoots a high percent from the floor thanks to his ability to get to the rim. He is also a good passer and a quality rebounder from the wing.

On the season, he averaged 16.4 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks in 30.7 minutes.

Malik Monk, freshman, guard, Kentucky

Monk is an explosive athlete who can score in bunches. He has great range on his outside shot, but also does a nice job attacking the rim to get layups and draw fouls. He also showed the ability to step up big against top competition, including a 47-point performance in a win over North Carolina and a 33-point outing in a win over Florida.

On the season, he averaged 20.4 points on 40.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 82.2 percent from the foul line. He also added 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals in 32.1 minutes.

Lauri Markkanen, freshman, forward, Arizona

Markkanen is built in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki. He is a true 7-footer who can score from inside and out. He has great range on his jumper, but also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and finish in the paint. One place where he needs improvement is on the backboards where he had just five double-figure rebounding games all year.

On the season, he averaged 15.6 points on 43.2 percent shooting from 3-point range while adding 7.1 rebounds in 30.5 minutes.

Jonathan Isaac, freshman, forward, Florida State

Much of Isaac's value is based on his potential. He is a great athlete who has a nice touch on his shot, but wasn't always aggressive enough to show that he could produce at a high level. He did show flashes of dominance with seven double-doubles and three 20-point games, but also scored in single digits on 10 occasions, including three of the last four games.

On the season, he averaged 11.9 points on 50.2 percent shooting from the floor with 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.1 steals and 1.0 assists in 25.7 minutes.

De'Aaron Fox, freshman, guard, Kentucky

Fox showed off his ability as a facilitator for the Wildcats early in the year before he became more of a scoring guard the last half of the season. He is a good finisher in the paint who has shown improvement with his outside shot in recent weeks as he has made 7 of 12 3-point shots over the last six games.

On the season, he averaged 16.1 points on 47.5 percent shooting with 4.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.2 minutes.

Justin Jackson, junior, forward, North Carolina

Jackson has made huge strides with his outside shot, and it has help revolutionize his game with the Tar Heels. After making 63 3-point shots during his first two seasons, he made 90 this year, and it helped him win the ACC Player of the Year Award and take North Carolina to a regular-season conference championship.

On the season, he averaged 18.1 points on 44.4 percent shooting from the floor with 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 31.6 minutes.

Miles Bridges, freshman, forward, Michigan State

Bridges is another in a long line of powerfully built forwards to wear Spartan green. He is a great finisher from in close but also has a nice-touch face-up game and range to the 3-point line. He is also a presence on the defensive end thanks to his ability to clean the glass and protect the rim. His mix of strength and skill earned him the Big 10 Freshman of the Year and all-conference second-team honors.

On the season, he averaged 16.7 points on 48.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 38.8 percent from distance. He also contributed 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks in 31.8 minutes.

Luke Kennard, sophomore, guard, Duke

After a solid freshman campaign, Kennard stepped up and carried the Blue Devils on the offensive end for much of his sophomore season. He has a knack for finding lanes and finishing at the rim, but is also a dead-eye shooter from long-range as he hit 44.3 percent of his 5.5 attempts from beyond the arc.

On the season, he averaged 20.1 points on 49.9 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 35.9 minutes.