Only 10 of our 52 NBA Draft prospects to watch in the NCAA Tournament ended up making it to the Elite 8. This has pretty much turned into a Duke report, as 5 of those 10 players are Blue Devils. How did those 10 players perform in their 4th game of the tourney?
Paolo Banchero (PF Duke)
For the only player left of the projected top-4 picks, Paolo Banchero, it wasn’t the greatest shooting night, making just 4 of 11 shots, but he got to the line 8 times on his way to 16 points. He also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists with just 1 turnover. Duke is headed to the Final Four after beating Arkansas. Banchero has solidified himself as a college star and is a lock to be one of the first few players selected in the upcoming draft. Adding a NCAA Championship to his resume could push him as high as the #1 pick.
AJ Griffin (SF, Duke)
AJ Griffin shot the lights out against Arkansas, hitting 7 of his 9 attempts from the field. He led Duke in scoring with 18 points. Between an ankle injury in high school and a knee sprain suffered in an October practice, Griffin hasn’t necessarily been able to show off his full athleticism. He has shown glimpses of getting that athleticism back and has recently started driving to the basket more often. Picking him in the draft will come with some risk, but his ability to knock down the three and play defense should make for a long career in the NBA, even if he doesn’t regain his athleticism.
Mark Williams (C, Duke)
Once again, Mark Williams proved he’s the most consistently dependable player in the nation. He didn’t miss a single shot in Duke’s win over Arkansas, scoring 12 points. Williams also added 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. The draft process often downgrades players who are known commodities, but he’s gonna be a really good pick for a team in the middle of the first round. The improvements he’s made from his freshman to sophomore season shows that there might still be some growth left. His free throw percentage of 74.7% this year may be an indication that at some point he could add a mid-range jumper to his repertoire.
Ochai Agbaji (SG/SF, Kansas)
Luckily for Kansas, Ochai Agbaji had his best game of the NCAA Tournament. His shooting slump might be over as the Big 12 Player of the Year made 8 of 12 shots, scoring 18 points. Agbaji was good on defense as well with 4 steals to go along with his 5 rebounds. He also dished out 4 assists. Kansas has won whether or not Agbaji has played well in this tourney, but it’s hard to believe that in the Final Four they won’t need their star player to carry them if they want to win it all. When it comes to the draft, teams will likely downgrade Agbaji slightly simply because he’s about to turn 22 later in April, but a big performance on the brightest college stage could maybe help him convince teams that he’s worth a high selection in the draft.
Late 1st/Early 2nd
Wendell Moore Jr (SG/SF, Duke)
Another solid performance from Wendell Moore Jr against Arkansas. Duke only had 8 assists in the game, less than half of their seasonal average. Moore only had 2 of the 8 assists. He averaged 4.4 assists this season. Despite the lack of passing from the whole team, Duke was able to score enough to win. Moore in particular had 14 points on 5 for 10 shooting. The reliability of Moore and Mark Williams, combined with the star power of Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, anything short of winning it all would be considered a disappointment for this Duke team.
Trevor Keels (PG/SG, Duke)
Trevor Keels got 26 minutes against Arkansas after playing a forgettable 14 minutes the previous game. He actually contributed a bit in this one, scoring 9 points on 4 of 9 field goal attempts. Coach Mike Kryzewski has tightened the rotation to 7 players, but it’s more like 6 players because Theo John only played 5 minutes. He’s going to ride his 6 best players and expects them to play most of the game. Keels has the ability to impact a game on either end and will be a player to watch during the draft process.
Christian Braun (SG/SF, Kansas)
It looked like Kansas was in some real trouble in the first half of their game against Miami, but a masterful second half performance had the Jayhawks cruising to an easy win. They outscored Miami 47-15 in that second half. Christian Braun was okay despite shooting 4 of 9 from the floor. He finished with a nice stat line of 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. Kansas has Villanova up next in a game that features great coaching and a bunch of veteran players. If Braun plays well in the Final Four it would not only help his draft stock but could very well lead to a title for Kansas.
Jaylin Williams (PF/C Arkansas)
Arkansas is out of the tourney, but in their 4 games Jaylin Williams had a double-double in every game. Against Duke he had 19 points and 10 rebounds. During the NCAA Tournament, Williams averaged 14.3 points and 11.8 rebounds. His versatility on defense and an uncanny ability to take charges make Williams an intriguing prospect. Look for a playoff team that needs another quality PF/C in their rotation to take him towards the end of the 1st round or in the early 2nd round.
Caleb Love (PG/SG North Carolina)
It was an inefficient game for Caleb Love, but North Carolina dominated Saint Mary’s and is Final Four bound. Love had 14 points, but shot just 6 of 17 from the field, and 2 for 10 from three. He also added 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Duke is up next for North Carolina, the first ever NCAA Tournament meeting for this storied rivalry. The Tar Heels have gotten hot at the right time and ended their regular season with a victory over these same Blue Devils, but players like Love will need to have a big game if they want a repeat of that accomplishment.
Justin Moore (SG, Villanova)
Villanova got a huge win over Houston and are headed to the Final Four, but they’ll have to proceed without Justin Moore. After playing 37 minutes, Moore fell to the floor in pain while dribbling the ball. A later MRI confirmed that he had suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Moore’s draft stock will take a massive hit as he’ll likely miss most, if not all, of the 2022-23 NBA season. A team could still draft Moore in the 2nd round and just retain his draft rights until he’s healthy, but it’s going to be a difficult decision for Moore to go that route or stay at Villanova and rehab. He turns 22 in two weeks which will probably factor into his choice. Moore was 2 for 10 shooting in the game and had 8 points.