NBA Prospect Stat Predictions By Position

Writer: Caleb Akpan

Following possibly the craziest March Madness in history, the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is beginning to come to an end with the Final Four and championship game coming this weekend. As more and more teams bow out of the tournament, the NBA prospects on those squads are beginning to declare for the pro draft. We’ll be able to find out how these players will fit in the NBA starting this summer, but until then we can only speculate on what their stats may look like a year from now.

h/t Marca.com

Center: DeAndre Ayton (Freshman, Arizona)

20.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 55% FG

After some early speculation, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton seems to have secured the number one pick selection from whoever wins the NBA Draft Lottery. With an insane Pac-12 tournament performance, Ayton turned even more heads than he already had, and many are beginning to talk about him having all-time great potential. If that’s the case, Ayton will have to start off his rookie season with an amazing statline, similar to the great rookies big men who came before him and took the league by storm. Guys like David Robinson, Shaquille O’ Neal, Tim Duncan, and even Blake Griffin all averaged at least 20 and 10 on 50% shooting in their first seasons. If Ayton is as good or better than them, he’ll have to do the same. With the power he already he possesses at the collegiate level, that shouldn’t be too difficult as long as he continues to get the ball.

Power Forward: Marvin Bagley III (Freshman, Duke)

17.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 50% FG

Duke’s Marvin Bagley isn’t as dominant as DeAndre Ayton, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make a great NBA player. Bagley shows a great presence in the post already in college, with a strong fluidity to his game. He’s arguably the greatest freshman Duke has ever had, breaking their first-year scoring record. In the NBA, he should be able to do much of the same, though he will likely face better pro defenders in the big leagues compared to the NCAA. Because of this, he probably won’t hit 20 points per game out of the gate, but he should have a lot of big games and solid rookie season to build upon moving forward.

Small Forward: Michael Porter Jr. (Freshman, Missouri)

16.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 45% FG

After only playing in the last moments of his NCAA career, Michael Porter Jr. is a bit of a mystery entering the NBA draft. The Missouri product showed some potential in his three-game college stint as well as in the NCAA preseason, but he clearly wasn’t 100% and that played a part in him struggling shooting, finishing his freshman year at just 33% from the field. Porter Jr.’s per 40 numbers (22.6 PPG, 15.1 RPG) show that he has the potential to be a monster player, but first he needs to fully heal up. When healthy, he has the potential to be the best player in this draft class, and we’ll likely see glimpses of that in his rookie year, even if he struggles to get back to his old self.

Shooting Guard: Luka Doncic (International):

15.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.2 APG, 44% FG

Luka Doncic is a star in what many people call the second best basketball league in the world, Liga ACB of the Euroleague. Against grown men in that league, Doncic is averaging 15, 5, and 4.5 assists per game in just 24.6 minutes of action every night. If you combine him with the NBA’s pace of play and give him more minutes, he should be able to hold those numbers up pretty easily even as a rookie. Doncic displays a tremendous amount of basketball IQ at a very young age and can lead an offense as a wing or point forward if needed. Some say he deserves consideration for the #1 pick, but even if that doesn’t happen, Doncic should have an excellent rookie season showing the NBA what he can do.

Point Guard: Trae Young (Freshman, Oklahoma):

15.0 PPG, 5.5 APG, 39% FG

Trae Young is college basketball’s most debated player. Some think he’ll go into the NBA and be an absolute star, shooting the ball and displaying a scoring dominance ala Stephen Curry. Others think he’ll be a complete bust, throwing up bricks at an alarming rate and making whichever team drafted him look like complete idiots. In actuality, Trae Young’s rookie year will probably fall somewhere in the middle. They’ll be great moments no doubt, he’ll probably end up having the highest point total in a game for his rookie class, but he’ll also face adversity as NBA teams scout him with great detail. It’ll take Young a bit to adapt to teams who know how to guard him and have the lockdown defenders to do so, and only time will tell if he’ll be able to become the phenom that he was in college in the pros.

March Madness Dark Horses

Writer: Andrew Martin

March is now upon us, that means it is time to start looking for ways to complete your perfect bracket. The teams that could rattle your bracket below!

ASU

Arizona State is sitting right on the bubble heading into selection Sunday and could very well be put into a play-in game. However, if they can sneak into the field, they might be one of the biggest bracket busters we see this year.

First, guard play, the Sun Devils run a small line up with three guards. All three of these guards are averaging over double figures, and all shooting just over 37% from behind the arc, creating one of the best back courts in the country.

Second, they’ve been battle tested. ASU peaked early this season and has slowly dropped off since. However, in the first two months of the season they beat Xavier at home, and Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse.

The last, and most important reason, experience. In today’s era of college basketball, it’s hard to get players to stay multiple years. In the rare cases where players stick around multiple years, you get a team chemistry that no other team can match, regardless of how many “NBA prospects” they have. In ASU’s case, their three guards leading the team are all seniors. They’ve been doing this for four years and understand what it takes to win, both mentally and physically.

Don’t be surprised when you watch this experienced Sun Devil back court marching their way through the tournament.

House of Sparky

NC State

NC State is one of those teams that you want to bet on because they’re an underdog, but we still haven’t truly figured them out. They played a weak non-conference schedule, other than beating Arizona in an early season tournament, and have really only showed their talent in ACC play.

However, in January we saw just how good the Wolfpack can be. They took down Duke, Clemson, and UNC in Chapel Hill. It all comes down to seeding, and what region NC State gets placed in. If they can get an ideal situation, then the Pack can be a really good force this year.

OU

Remember when we were all hopping on the Trae Young wagon, and OU was projected as a #2 seed? Times have changed, the Sooners come into March with a disappointing 17-12 record, and along with their awful defensive play, we have many reasons to doubt them.

However, there’s still a chance OU has what it takes to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, and the key to that run is Trae Young. The Sooners are 5-2 vs. the RPI top 25, including three major wins over Kansas, Wichita State, and Texas Tech. In those games Trae Young combined for 82 points, 29 assists, and 10 rebounds.

While OU may be 3-10 over their last 13 games, I promise you don’t want to see your favorite team matched up against Trae Young in March.

SB Nation

Michigan

Michigan is without a doubt, the hottest team in the nation right now. While they’re the hottest team right now and could end up being a #3 seed in the tournament, most people still don’t see Michigan as a team that will make a deep run.

The Wolverines are led by 3-point specialist Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who is shooting a staggering 40% from deep, and has been a huge factor them winning 11 of their last 12.

There’s numerous reasons teams should be fearful of Michigan in March, but the two major things that excite me about this Michigan team is their out of conference skill and ability to win on a neutral court.

The Wolverines went 14-2 this year in out of conference play, proving they can compete outside of the BIG 10. Also, they finished 6-1 in neutral court games, and that is a huge deal when you’re constantly having to play in new arenas with no home crowd.

Alabama

Alabama is very similar to OU this year, they pretty much completely rely on one guy to win them games, Collin Sexton. He comes in averaging 18.3 PPG and draws multiple defenders on him almost every time down the floor. Sexton will be one of the best guards in the NBA draft this year, but Bama fans would love to see him go out on a high note.

The major problem is the fact that Bama may not make the tournament at all. They come into the SEC tournament at 17-14, if they want to make it to the NCAA tournament then their only option is to run the table and win the SEC tournament.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech will be a fan favorite come tournament time, they’re a team that loves to shoot, and will truly live or die by the three. Although they have a mediocre 21-11 record, all it takes for a Hokie win is for a few guys to get hot from deep. They’ve shown that’s all it takes by beating Duke, Clemson, and Virginia all in March.

With four Hokies averaging over 39% from behind the arc, teams will have to have a great defensive game plan against Buzz Williams’ squad.

Joe Lunardi currently has Virginia Tech at a #9 seed in the Midwest, and that would be absolutely PERFECT for a run. I use the word perfect for a reason, Xavier is currently projected as the #1 seed in that region, and Virginia Tech is far more battle tested coming from the ACC.

The last thing you want to do is let a 3-point shooting team gain momentum, and if VT can shoot well in their first game, then they will have all the momentum they need to take down Xavier in the round of 32.

richmond.com

Ohio State

Ohio State has quietly been one of the most consistent teams in college basketball this year. They have major wins over Michigan, Purdue, and Michigan State on their way to a 24-8 record.

Lead by Keita Bates-Diop with 19.4 PPG, the Buckeyes have four players averaging over double digits, and all four guys have played at least 31 of the 32 games on schedule. A team lead by four guys who have been alongside each other all year long is a huge advantage in March, and with the experience OSU has gotten in the BIG 10 this year, there’s no telling how far they could go this year.

Big 12 Tournament Preview

Writer: Lucas Garza

Kansas won the Big 12 regular season title for the 14th straight season, and surprised many college basketball analysts while doing so. With a roster filled with guards who can shoot from the perimeter, Kansas’ lack of depth down low was thought to be a major issue for the Jayhawks this season. Kansas came into this season having only lost 11 games at Allen FIeldhouse under Bill Self, but the Jayhawks lost four games at home this season, including three conference games. Despite the unexpected home struggles, Udoka Azubuike and Devonte’ Graham led the way for the Jayhawks all season, with help from Svi Mykhailiuk, and proved that Bill Self still owns the Big 12.

The Big 12 was deep this year, and everyone knew that in November. Kansas State was expected to finish at the bottom of the conference, but they did not look back after their hot start in conference play. Iowa State’s young team finished in last, but will likely be competing next year as their young talent gained more experience this season. Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas finished in a four way tie for 6th place in the conference. These four teams are all on bubble watch, with Baylor and Oklahoma almost being locks.

If Oklahoma State and Texas win their first games in the Big 12 tournament, the conference could put an astounding 90% of their teams in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas plays the winner of the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State game, and Texas Tech awaits the winner of Texas vs. Iowa State. Kansas almost has a tougher opponent in the quarterfinals, playing either an Oklahoma State team that swept the Jayhawks this season, or the front runner for national player of the year for most of the season in Trae Young. Kansas State and Baylor face off with each other in the quarterfinals, and Baylor and West Virginia play on Texas Tech’s side of the bracket.

The Big 12 First Team All-Conference will most likely consist of four guards and one big man. Trae Young, Devonte’ Graham, and Jevon Carter are most certainly locks. Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans will probably join them. The big man on the first team will come down to Mo Bamba, Udoka Azubuike, and Vladimir Brodziansky, all who had their breakout moments throughout the season.

The Big 12 tournament has been dominated by Iowa State lately, as the Cyclones have won the title three of the past four years. For the Cyclones to win once again, they would have to do so as the last seed in the tournament, but anything can happen at the Sprint Center. The Big 12 tournament has produced plenty of memorable games over the past 21 years, and will continue to do so next week in Kansas City.

Shaka Smart’s Hot Seat

Writer: Lucas Garza

Shaka Smart’s coaching job became much less secure after the Longhorns’ basketball team had an awful week, losing to a home game to Kansas State and on the road against TCU.

After the Longhorns had a dramatic win last Saturday against Oklahoma, the team did not show up with energy on Wednesday against Kansas State. The horns had a slight lead for the majority of the game, but found themselves down by five late in the game and they could not recover.

Texas then traveled to Fort Worth to have a rematch against TCU, who they beat in double overtime one month earlier. TCU would take the lead early, scoring from the perimeter and making Dylan Osetkowski and Jericho Sims look clueless down low. Mo Bamba had a great game offensively, scoring over 23 points that showcased many different moves. Defense was the problem all game for the Longhorns, giving up 48 points in the first half has been the most under Shaka Smart. Bamba only had one block, and Kerwin Roach lost his man on three different occasions.

The week’s two losses currently take Texas out of the NCAA tournament picture, and they will probably need to win at least four more games to make their way back in. Suddenly, they find themselves on game out of last place in the Big 12. Of the six remaining teams Texas has left on their schedule, they have already suffered losses to five of them, making the road ahead much tougher.

At the beginning of the season, it was widely speculated that if Texas missed the NCAA tournament for a second straight year, and for only the third time this century, Shaka Smart would be fired. Although a few have rescinded this statement due to the illness of Andrew Jones, Shaka should still be held accountable for his team’s performance, energy, and play calling on the court. Shaka’s inability to run an offensive play late in the clock or recognize weaknesses in defenses will end up costing him his job if Texas misses the tournament again.

Chris Del Conte, the new Athletic Coordinator, must already be generating a list of names for the job. While at TCU, he was able to bring former Pittsburgh coach, Jamie Dixon, back to his alma mater, and the Horned Frogs’ basketball program has never been better. Del Conte will most likely look at some big name coaches, and try to bring them to Texas. The best option would be Villanova’s Jay Wright, but it would be very difficult to get him to leave Philadelphia. Some bold coaching candidates for the Longhorns’ to explore would be T.J. Ford and John Lucas II. It is no secret that former Longhorns and 2003 National Player of the Year, T.J. Ford, has been spending more time with the team recently, but he has no head coaching experience with the team recently. John Lucas II has been around the game and young men for all his life, and he is currently thriving as an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. His son, Jai, played at Texas and is currently an assistant for Smart.

Texas won’t have to grow throughout the job searching process if Shaka can turn this team around heading into the last three weeks before the postseason. Every Longhorn basketball fan would love to see the team win games down the stretch of the season and compete hard at the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns’ have never won the Big 12 tournament. They have been to the championship game on four different occasions, but have lost to Kansas each time.

Big 12 SEC Challenge

Written By: Lucas Garza

The SEC shocked the Big 12 in this weekend’s Big 12/SEC Challenge. Since the beginning of the season, the Big 12 has been referred to as the best conference in the country, but after losing six of the conference’s ten games this weekend, some are questioning if any Big 12 teams will go deep into the tournament.

The day began with an expected Baylor loss to Florida, and Texas Tech was able to sneak past South Carolina on the road, who appeared in last year’s Final Four. Then, Texas and Kansas State handled their opponents well at home, as Oklahoma and Trae Young were trying to climb from behind the entire game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Young’s 17 points and 8 assists were not enough for the Sooners.

Rick Barnes, the former Longhorns’ coach and multiple Big 12 Coach of the Year winner would lead his Tennessee team over Iowa State as predicted, and the Kansas guards would have another good showing in Allen Fieldhouse against the big men from Texas A&M. Oklahoma State and Arkansas battled it out in Fayetteville, and Arkansas was able to win the physical battle by one point.

The big surprises of the day came in Morgantown and Nashville. West Virginia led Kentucky by 15 at the half, and saw their lead quickly disappear in the second half. The experience and press from West Virginia was a task that the young guards from Kentucky were able conquer.

TCU went to play Vanderbilt in their oddly structured Memorial Gymnasium. TCU was able to climb back from a double digit deficit in the second half, but was not able to close at the end or get up a good last second shot. TCU began conference play with no losses, but have lost six games since. This loss to a Vanderbilt team who only had seven wins at the time will not look good on TCU’s resume as they look forward into March.

College Gameday will be headed to Austin, Texas for the first time in nine years when Texas hosts Oklahoma and Trae Young. The Gameday crew will likely discuss Andrew Jones’ leukemia diagnosis, Shaka Smart’s hot seat, and the outstanding play of the freshmen Mo Bamba and Trae Young. Last time College Gameday was in Austin, Jeff Capel brought his No. 2 ranked OU team led by Blake Griffin into Austin. Griffin would miss most of the game due to a concussion caused by Texas guard Dogus Balbay. A.J. had one of the great performances in Erwin Center history as he scored 16 straight points late in the game to rally against OU. The past two Red River Rivalry games in Austin have been great. Texas’ 25-3 run against Buddy Hield’s No. 3 ranked Sooners’ electrified the crowd in 2016, and Andrew Jones hit a buzzer beater to beat OU last season.