While the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament lacked major upsets, the Round of 32 brought us some quality NBA draft prospect matchups and provided more shocking results than the two days prior.
Villanova (1), Duke (2), Louisville (2) and Florida State (3) were all high seeds to go down over the weekend, eliminating a number of prospects in the process. We also saw likely lottery picks Josh Jackson and Miles Bridges go head-to-head, while potential top pick Lonzo Ball dominated in the second half of a UCLA victory.
So, what were the major draft takeaways from the second round of the tournament?
SECOND ROUND NOTES
— Unfortunately, Jonathan Isaac’s solid freshman campaign came to a close when Xavier dominated Florida State by a score of 91-66. Isaac had a relatively quiet game with eight points, 12 rebounds, one block and one steal, with sophomore shooting guard Dwayne Bacon going for 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Both Isaac, a potential top-10 pick, and Bacon, who’s projected between 25-40, haven’t determined if they will declare yet:
#FSU's Jonathan Isaac and Dwayne Bacon both said they don't have a timetable on whether or not they will declare for the NBA Draft.
— Kenny Morales (@KennyMoralesTV) March 19, 2017
— The 2/7 matchup between Arizona and St. Mary’s ended up being a good one, with freshman big man Lauri Markkanen leading the way with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and a steal to continue to solidify his top-10 draft status. St. Mary’s big man Jock Landale played well against the Wildcats’ talented front line, totaling 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. The junior could get a look in the second round whether he comes out this year or next.
— Wisconsin senior Nigel Hayes made his mark with a half-spin on the baseline late in the game to push the Badgers ahead of defending champion Villanova in a major upset. Hayes’ stock could rise into the early second round with his play so far in the tournament. Unfortunately, senior swingman Josh Hart (likely second-round pick) and sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson (2018 prospect) end their season:
— Top-seeded Gonzaga knocked off No. 8 Northwestern as freshman Zach Collins (14 points, five rebounds, four blocks in 21 minutes) shined. Collins has lived up to his billing as a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft, although if he returns he could be a lottery pick in 2018.
— Purdue’s frontcourt duo of Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards was dominant against Iowa State, with Swanigan totaling 20 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block, and Edwards reaching 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Swanigan isn’t a traditional big man in the new pace-and-space era of stretch 4s, but he’s still proving to be a solid prospect in his own right and figures to be in the early second-round range at worst if he decides to leave school. Cyclones senior point guard Monte Morris ended his career with 18 points, nine assists and three steals in the loss and will likely be drafted between 35-45 in June.
— The biggest prospect matchup Sunday was between small forwards and long-time friends, Josh Jackson and Miles Bridges — who almost wound up going to Michigan State together. Jackson got the best of Bridges with 23 points, two steals and two blocks, while Bridges, who was elbowed in the first half and missed some time, still managed to reach 22 points, eight boards and a steal in the loss. Both had “wow” moments throughout and should see each other for years to come in the NBA after being drafted in the lottery, though Bridges said he will “take his time” to decide if he will head to the NBA or not. Jackson is almost certainly a goner given he’s in play to be one of the first names called at the draft:
— Late Sunday, UCLA advanced over Cincinnati in a 3/6 matchup behind freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. After a sluggish start, Ball dazzled in the second half and finished with 18 points (7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-7 from deep), nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Ball showed off everything that makes him a potential top pick, including his deep range, unselfishness and, most importantly, an ability to consistently make winning plays. If he continues a successful tournament run, that might push him ahead of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz to the top of the 2017 draft class:
— Duke freshmen Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles both struggled in the stunning loss to South Carolina. Tatum had 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but he did little else and had five of the Blue Devils’ 18 turnovers. Giles only played nine minutes and had minimal impact. Tatum likely won’t be hurt too much and could still go in the top five, but Giles has a big decision ahead of him. He’s been hampered by injuries and saw his draft stock tumble throughout the year, but he may still come out and be a late first-rounder. Duke guards Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen also have interesting decisions to make. Kennard was awful against South Carolina, but he was excellent all year and could be a first-rounder. Allen had a roller coaster season and likely wouldn’t be taken in the first round if he comes out. Five-star freshmen Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden are others to watch.
— Kentucky’s frosh trio of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo all showed flashes of brilliance in the tight win over Wichita State. Fox and Monk shot poorly (combined 8-of-23 from the field), but they made critical plays down the stretch to help secure the win. Adebayo’s energy was crucial, and he finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds (four offensive). Fox and Monk are both destined for the lottery, while Adebayo can improve his first-round status if he continues to play well.
— Michigan sophomore big man Moritz Wagner made waves with his 26-point performance on 11-of-14 shooting in a win over second-seeded Louisville. Wagner is skilled with the size and fluidity to play either frontcourt spot. He still needs to add weight and improve as a rebounder, but the skills are there for him to be a dynamic offensive option in the frontcourt and an NBA player down the road. Underrated combo forward D.J. Wilson added 17 points, three blocks and a steal, and he could jump into the first-round range if Michigan continues its run deep into the tournament.
— Other top performers from Sunday include North Carolina junior Justin Jackson, who had 15 points, eight boards, five assists and five steals in the win over Arkansas. Baylor power forward Johnathan Motley had 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks over USC. Trojans big man Chimezie Metu continues to show growth with 28 points, five rebounds and a steal, while 6’10” forward Bennie Boatwright had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists in the loss. Both forward prospects said they have not decided if they will leave for the draft:
Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu said they had not made a decision about whether to enter the NBA Draft or return to USC.
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) March 20, 2017
Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey (27 points on 9-of-10 shooting), Dillon Brooks (19 points and seven rebounds) and Jordan Bell (six points and 12 rebounds (six offensive) also had notable performances in the comeback win over Rhode Island.
WHAT TO WATCH IN SWEET 16
— Michigan and Oregon should be one to watch with Bell matching up with Wagner and Brooks matching up with Wilson. No Chris Boucher for Oregon could finally catch up to them in this round:
— The 1/4 matchup between Kansas and Purdue is a contrast of styles, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Jayhawks deal with the Boilermakers’ size up front. Will Jackson be able to handle the physicality of Swanigan when they go head-to-head? How will Kansas handle 7’2” Isaac Haas in the post? Point guards Frank Mason and Devonte Graham have the edge in the backcourt, and I expect that to be the difference in this one.
— Other prospects to watch Thursday include Gonzaga’s reserve big men Zach Collins and Killian Tillie, Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett, and Arizona’s Rawle Alkins, Allonzo Trier as well as 7-foot sharpshooter Lauri Markkanen.
— The biggest Sweet 16 game for NBA scouts will be the 2/3 matchup between Kentucky and UCLA in a rematch of a thrilling regular-season tilt between the two teams. The Ball-Fox dual will take center stage, but eyes will also be on Monk, Adebayo, T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu, among others:
— Other potential prospect matchups include Butler’s Kelan Martin vs. North Carolina’s Jackson, Baylor’s athletic big men against a standout South Carolina backcourt in senior shooting guard Sindarius Thornwell and sophomore P.J. Dozier, and then Florida’s athletic forward Devin Robinson facing Wisconsin’s Hayes.