Millions of people will be watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this week in hopes of hopes of filling out a winning bracket and claiming victory in an office pool. But NBA scouts, coaches and executives pay close attention to the tournament for a different reason. The pressures of “March Madness” can reveal a lot about the NBA readiness of players who hope to be selected in June’s draft.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress released a new mock draft today, and most of the top prospects will be on display in the tournament. One glaring exception is projected No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, whose college career is over now that LSU has chosen not to participate in any postseason tournament. Brandon Ingram, Givony’s No. 2 selection, is part of a Duke team that is seeded fourth in the West Region. Teammate Grayson Allen is also a projected first-round choice, with Givony listing him at No. 29.
The rest of the U.S. college players in Givony’s first round who made the tournament are as follows.
- California: Jalen Brown  and Ivan Rabb , fourth in the South.
- Providence: Kris Dunn , ninth in the East.
- Utah: Jakob Poeltl , third in the Midwest.
- Kentucky: Jamal Murray , Skal Labissiere  and Tyler Ulis , fourth in the East.
- Oklahoma: Buddy Hield , second in the West.
- Notre Dame: Demetrius Jackson , sixth in the East.
- Michigan State: Deyonta Davis  and Denzel Valentine , second in the Midwest.
- Vanderbilt: Damian Jones  and Wade Baldwin , play-in game in the South.
- Maryland: Diamond Stone , fifth in the South.
- Baylor: Taurean Prince , fifth in the West.
- Gonzaga: Domantas Sabonis , 11th in the Midwest.
- North Carolina: Brice Johnson , first in the East.
That sets up tonight’s Shootaround topic: Which of these players is most likely to improve his draft position with a standout tournament performance? Hield has been putting up jaw-dropping point totals all season; can he go on a barrage and vault himself into the top five? Can Kentucky’s trio move up the draft board with another trip to the Final Four? Can Johnson, Davis or Valentine impress by making a deep tournament run with a high seed, or is someone like Sabonis or Dunn in better position with a dark horse?
Please share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below. We look forward to what you have to say.