Draft Updates: Noel, Magic, Oladipo, Zeller

College basketball will take center stage for the next few weeks with the NCAA Tournament set to begin Tuesday. For NBA types, that means one final chance to evaluate a number of the top draft prospects in game action. Here are the latest draft-related dispatches we’re hearing:

  • Despite a torn ACL, Kentucky center Nerlens Noel remains in line to be picked in the top five this June, and could still go No. 1. That speaks to the weakness in the upper echelon of this year’s draft class, according to an NBA front-office veteran who spoke to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. “He can be good defensively, but it’s not like he’s the next Bill Russell,” the executive said of Noel. “There’s another reason he’s staying that high in the draft.”
  • The Magic are currently in line for the No. 2 overall selection, and Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel looks at five potential high lottery picks, projecting how their addition to the Magic would affect the team’s current roster.
  • Following up on last week’s look at a few top college prospects who will miss the NCAA tournament, Chad Ford of ESPN.com has an Insider-only piece on others within the ESPN top 60 whose seasons are essentially over, noting that few scouts pay much attention to the NIT and other consolation events.
  • An improved offensive showing this season is what has Victor Oladipo on a fast climb up draft boards, Howard-Cooper writes, projecting the Indiana swingman as a mid-lottery pick. That’s right around the range where teammate Cody Zeller, once thought of as a potential No. 1 pick, could wind up being drafted.

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