The first round of the NCAA Tournament is in the books. This year feels like more prospects are playing in the tourney than most years. Let’s take a look at how some of the potential draft hopefuls fared.
The Top-4 Players
Jabari Smith (PF, Auburn)
Jacksonville State kept it close early, but Auburn turned it on before the half and ended up with a 19 point victory. Despite only shooting 6-13 from the field with 4 turnovers, Jabari Smith had a really good game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists. Auburn at times can struggle to score points so Smith may have to play a little more selfishly against better teams if they want a chance to cut down the nets in the end.
Chet Holmgren (PF/C Gonzaga)
Gonzaga got a battle until part way through the 2nd half from Georgia State but ended up coasting to a victory. Chet Homgren had a crazy statline in this game amassing 19 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 blocks, and 2 steals. He made 8 of his 13 attempts from the field. Holmgren is making a case to be the #1 overall pick and has a fun matchup in round 2 against Memphis who has an athletic frontcourt.
Paolo Banchero (PF Duke)
People were anticipating what Paolo Banchero would do after the other top prospects in this draft had good games. Banchero didn’t disappoint, scoring 17 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, passing out 4 assists, blocking 2 shots, and getting a steal. Duke has the fire power to win it all, but Banchero will have to take over at some point and lead them there.
Jaden Ivey (PG/SG Purdue)
Purdue easily took care of Yale and will head to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. They got off to a great start thanks to a brilliant first half from Jaden Ivey. He scored 18 of his 22 points in that first half. The rest of the game was Purdue just cruising to the win so Ivey didn’t have to do much in the second half.
Keegan Murray (PF, Iowa)
After leading his team to a Big Ten Tournament championship, all eyes were on Keegan Murray to see if he could do the same in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Murray, his Iowa Hawkeyes were upset in round 1 by the Richmond Spiders. Murray’s overall numbers for the game look okay, but he was off in the first half and didn’t get a lot of quality shots. He ended with 21 points on 8-15 shooting, 0-3 from three, and 9 rebounds. His attention will now be on preparing for the draft.
AJ Griffin (SF, Duke)
There have been several games this season where AJ Griffin seems to get lost in the shuffle of Duke’s offense and this was another one of those games. He finished with 10 points and 6 assists, but made just 2 of his 7 three pointers. Going into this game he was shooting 46.7% from three on the year so I don’t think there is any concern there. His game might translate better to the NBA style of play than the college game.
Johnny Davis (SG, Wisconsin)
Johnny Davis was really struggling in this game, as was Wisconsin as they were losing to Colgate. When it mattered in the clutch though, Davis took over the game making several big shots. He finished 8 of 20 from the field and scored 25 points. He also had 8 assists and just 1 turnover. Late in the game, Davis appeared to have aggravated his injured ankle from a couple weeks ago. Wisconsin desperately needs Davis to play well to have a chance at advancing far so hopefully it won’t impact his game too much on Sunday when they face Iowa State.
Bennedict Mathurin (SG/SF Arizona)
Arizona quickly got up double digits on Wright State and even though they didn’t really put them away until late, they were pretty much in control of the game the whole way. Bennedict Mathurin led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 points, but shot just 7 of 18. He did hit 4 of his 10 three pointers. With 0 assists and 4 turnovers, it wasn’t the greatest outing but he did enough to help Arizona advance. Look for Mathurin to have to shoulder the scoring load at some point in this tourney.
Jalen Duren (C, Memphis)
Jalen Duren had 10 points and 11 rebounds in a Memphis victory over Boise State. He only made 4 of 11 shots after getting off to a decent start. Memphis will take on top-seeded Gonzaga next in a fantastic matchup for Duren against Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme.
Tari Eason (SF/PF, LSU)
Tari Eason was in foul trouble and only played 19 minutes in LSU’s loss to Iowa State in the 1st round. He scored the ball well with 18 points in those 19 minutes, hitting 5 of 9 shots and all 7 of his free throws. Outside of the scoring though, he had 4 turnovers and didn’t do much else to help LSU in the loss. His ability to score in bunches and his defensive upside will get him drafted in this range, but Eason definitely needs to work hard to improve some of his weaknesses.
TyTy Washington (PG/SG, Kentucky)
Kentucky is headed home after a surprising loss to Saint Peter’s. TyTy Washington’s first, and likely only, NCAA Tournament game was not a pleasant one. The likely lottery pick scored just 5 points on 2 of 10 shooting. He did very little in this one to impress scouts. His body of work throughout the season should still be enough for Washington to have teams draft him but this was definitely disappointing.
Jeremy Sochan (PF, Baylor)
Jeremy Sochan had a good performance in his first NCAA Tournament game finishing with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. He does a little bit of everything for Baylor on both sides of the court. Baylor will face North Carolina in the 2nd round which will be a really fun matchup.
Mark Williams (C, Duke)
Another day, another good productive game for Mark Williams. The Duke big man scored 15 points, only missing 1 of his 7 shots and making all 3 of his free throws. Williams also grabbed 7 boards, blocked 5 shots, had 5 assists, and a steal. His improvement over last year is considerable and he’s firmly cemented himself as a mid-1st round draft pick come June.
Ochai Agbaji (SG/SF, Kansas)
Kansas and Ochai Agbaji didn’t play particularly well but still easily put a beat down on Texas Southern. Agbaji scored 11 points on just 5 of 14 shooting. He also had 5 turnovers. If he was going to have a bad game, this was the one to have it in, but Kansas will desperately need him to play well starting in their next game against Creighton. Agbaji has the ability to get hot and beat just about any team in this tournament.
Kendall Brown (SF, Baylor)
Baylor had a blowout win over Norfolk State and Kendall Brown only played 20 minutes. He was his usual passive self, shooting just 4 times and scoring 4 points. Brown is a highly rated prospect because of his ability to handle the ball and his defense. If he was a better scorer or shooter he’d be in the lottery, but some team is going to fall in love with his talents.
Walker Kessler (C, Auburn)
So close to a triple-double for Walker Kessler. The big man scored 13 points, secured 10 rebounds, and swatted 9 shots. Kessler’s rim protection can alter games and make opposing player’s think twice about taking the ball to the rack.
Kennedy Chandler (PG, Tennessee)
Tennessee got off to a great start against Longwood and never looked back. Kennedy Chandler had a good all-around game with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. He also hit 3 out 4 three point attempts. Although he did commit 3 turnovers, it didn’t really matter in this game. One thing to watch with Chandler is free throw shooting. He was only 2 for 4 from the charity stripe in this game. For the season he shot just 60.6%, which is not good for a PG.
EJ Liddell (PF, Ohio State)
EJ Liddell and the Ohio State Buckeyes felt a little disrespected that they were the underdogs in their game against Loyola Chicago. Liddell only made 4 of 9 shots from the field, but got to the line 10 times, making 8 of them. He finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. He had 3 blocks, but also had 3 turnovers. Liddell can fill it up and will need to continue to score well if Ohio State wants to move past round 2.
Malaki Branham (SG, Ohio State)
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year played a solid game in his first NCAA Tournament game. Malaki Branham made 5 of 7 shots on his way to 14 points. 3 turnovers for him, just like Liddell, but he made up for it with 3 steals. Branham has all the tools to be a really good player in the NBA and whatever team ends up with him in the middle of the 1st round is going to be very happy.
Blake Wesley (PG/SG, Notre Dame)
After surviving Rutgers in a double overtime win in their First Four game on Wednesday, Notre Dame then went and took care of Alabama in round 1. Blake Wesley scored just 4 points in the first half and was in foul trouble as well, but had a nice second half to finish with 18 points. He went 8 of 14 from the field, including several high flying dunks, a couple of which were off of his 3 steals. Wesley has lockdown defensive potential and frustrated Alabama guard Jaden Shackelford in this one.
Late 1st/Early 2nd
Christian Koloko (C, Arizona)
What an impressive outing for Christian Koloko. The Arizona center scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting. He also pulled down 13 rebounds, blocked 5 shots, and dished a career high 6 assists. His improvement this season along with Mathurin is the reason Arizona could be headed towards a national championship. If he is still on the board in the draft into the picks in the 20’s, he’s gonna make a lot of GM’s look silly for passing on him.
Max Christie (SG/SF, Michigan State)
Michigan State ended up pulling out a one point victory over Davidson, but it was a disastrous game for Max Christie. He was a high prospect coming into the season but had very few good games outside of flashes of what he could be. In this game, Christie had just 2 points on 1 of 6 shooting and missed all 4 of his three pointers. Some team will still take a chance on him around this point in the draft and he’ll probably perform well in workouts, but he could really use a good game in the tourney to buoy his stock.
Caleb Houstan (SF, Michigan)
The highly touted freshman didn’t live up to expectations this season at Michigan, but should still have some draft buzz due to his size and potential. Caleb Houston had a decent game with 13 points and 5 rebounds as Michigan upset the higher seeded Colorado State. Michigan plays Tennessee next and Houstan will need to have a good game if they’re gonna have a chance at another upset.
David Roddy (SF, Colorado State)
Michigan tried to stop David Roddy from getting going and they did a pretty good job. While Roddy did make 4 out of 5 two point shots, he made just 1 of 6 from three, scoring a total of 13 points. He averaged 19.2 points per game during the season. Roddy did have 6 rebounds and 4 assists but it’s a disappointing end to the season for Colorado State.
Wendell Moore Jr (SG/SF, Duke)
Wendell Moore Jr was his usual productive self against Cal State Fullerton. The junior wing had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting, got 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also hit 3 of his 4 three pointers. Moore has a calming influence on his Duke team and does a great job of setting up his teammates.
Trevor Keels (PG/SG, Duke)
Duke elected to bring Trevor Keels off the bench in this one and he didn’t perform well in that role. In addition to 4 turnovers, Keels was 3 for 7 from the field and scored just 6 points. Some of the issues with him are because Duke has so many good players in their lineup that he gets overshadowed, but he’ll have to step up for both Duke to go far in this tournament and for Keels to stay in the 1st round if he declares for the draft.
Christian Braun (SG/SF, Kansas)
It was a pretty good overall game for Christian Braun outside of shooting inside the arc, where he was just 1 for 7. From three however, he hit 4 of his 5 attempts. Braun finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Kansas will need Braun to continue to play well and help Ochai Agbaji from getting too much defensive attention.
Oscar Tshiebwe (PF/C, Kentucky)
Oscar Tshiebwe had his usual dominant game, but it wasn’t enough as Kentucky lost anyway. He had 30 points, shot 11-16, had 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. It was almost enough to overcome most of his other teammates not showing up. Tshiebwe destroyed college competition this year and the only real question mark is if he’ll be able to duplicate it at the next level. If he can manage to do that, he’ll be a steal of a late 1st round pick.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (PF, Indiana)
With just 12 points and 5 rebounds, Trayce Jackson-Davis fell well below his seasonal averages of 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. The entire Indiana team fell flat in this one after winning their First Four matchup on Tuesday night. In that game Jackson-Davis had 29 points and was much better. As long as his measurements are okay, he should be mobile enough to play power forward in the NBA.
Jaylin Williams (PF/C Arkansas)
Jaylin Williams only shot 4 for 10 in Arkansas’ win over Vermont. He did have a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Arkansas plays New Mexico State next and has a good chance of reaching the Sweet 16. The further the Razorbacks can go, the more Williams can maybe improve his draft stock.
JD Davison (PG/SG, Alabama)
3 minutes into the game against Notre Dame, starting point guard Jahvon Quinerly went down with a knee injury and didn’t return. This forced JD Davison to play 36 minutes. The results were a mixed bag for Davison. He scored 11 points and dished out 9 assists but also had 6 costly turnovers. He came off the bench for most of the season and will be a tough player to project at the next level since he was playing behind some good guards at Alabama.
Keon Ellis (SG/SF, Alabama)
Keon Ellis shot the ball well from outside, going 4-6 from three. He ended the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. The senior’s college career is now over with Alabama’s loss. He’ll wind up in the NBA as a role player because of his 3 & D skill set, whether that’s as a 2nd round pick or an undrafted free agent.
Julian Strawther (SF, Gonzaga)
It was a bad game for Julian Strawther but Gonzaga won comfortably anyway. He finished with 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting. Gonzaga will need Strawther to step up as the competition ramps up starting next game against Memphis.
Drew Timme (PF/C, Gonzaga)
Drew Timme took over the game for Gonzaga against Georgia State. He scored 32 points but probably should’ve had even more since he went just 6-13 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 13 rebounds. Timme has the capabilities of dominating the NCAA Tournament and leading the Zags a long way, but it remains to be seen if his skill set will translate to the NBA.
Andrew Nembhard (PG, Gonzaga)
Andrew Nembhard is a savvy vet with a ton of experience. It was a stat stuffing game for Nembhard with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists. All of his 9 points were from the three point line, where he made 3 of his 5 attempts. Being able to control a game and take care of the ball when the pressure of March is upon you is an underrated skill and if he is able to handle that pressure well then Gonzaga may finally get over the hump.
Kofi Cockburn (C, Illinois)
Illinois was losing the entire game until about 30 seconds left and then held on for the victory as Chattanooga missed a last second shot. Kofi Cockburn played well outside of 5-10 from the free throw line and 3 turnovers. He scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and had 3 blocks. Cockburn is more of an old school big man who doesn’t have the mobility needed to play major minutes at center at the next level, but much like Luka Garza last year, he’ll most likely get drafted and given a chance.
Josh Minott (SF, Memphis)
Yet another game where Josh Minott barely plays, logging just 4 minutes in this one. He had 2 points and 1 rebound. Minott’s draft range is purely projection at this point based on his long frame for a small forward and good athleticism.
Moussa Diabate (PF/C, Michigan)
The athletic big man doesn’t take a lot of shots from the field and that was the case in this one too. Moussa Diabate took just 4 shots on his way to 7 points and 9 rebounds. If he enters the draft, he’ll likely be a high 2nd round pick on potential because he moves extremely well for his size but his numbers aren’t yet overly impressive.
Hyunjung Lee (SF, Davidson)
Hyunjung Lee had just 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting. He averaged 16 points per game during the season. His inefficient game is one of the reasons Davidson is done. Look for Lee to test the draft waters, but if he doesn’t get good feedback at the combine he might be back for Davidson next year.
Caleb Love (PG/SG North Carolina)
North Carolina destroyed Marquette, jumping on them early, and Caleb Love was a big part of that. He missed several shots in the 2nd half with the game clearly won which makes his shooting numbers not look great overall, but he’s proving he deserves a shot in the NBA. Love finished with 23 points, but was 6 of 15 on his field goal attempts. In the 2nd round North Carolina has a fun matchup with Baylor, who is the top seed of the region.
Trevion Williams (PF/C, Purdue)
Since Purdue easily won, Trevion Williams only played 18 minutes in this one. He finished with 8 points, 20 rebounds, and 4 assists. The big man is a fantastic passer but can also be a little turnover prone. He had 3 turnovers in this game. If he can limit those turnovers moving forward he has the ability to influence games with those passing skills.
Zach Edey (C, Purdue)
Zach Edey had a good performance in Purdue’s win over Yale. The 7’4” big man played just 20 minutes but still managed to score 16 points, pull down 9 boards, and block 3 shots. If Edey can stay out of foul trouble he could cause problems with his size for any undersized teams.
Jamaree Bouyea (PG, San Francisco)
With a display of unbelievable shot making, Jamaree Bouyea almost led San Francisco to an upset victory in overtime over Murray State, but they fell just short. Bouyea scored 36 points on NBA level stepbacks and drives to the basket. He made 13 of his 26 shots. With how much he had the ball, he only committed 1 turnover while playing the entire 45 minutes of regulation and overtime. Bouyea showed he should be considered in the 2nd round and could be a nice scoring point guard off the bench for an NBA team.
Terrence Shannon Jr (SG/SF, Texas Tech)
Texas Tech had no trouble with Montana State in their round 1 blowout victory. A big reason for that was the 20 points and 6 assists from Terrence Shannon Jr. He only shot 7 times but made 5 of them, including 3 of 4 from deep. Scoring 20 points on 7 shots is an incredibly efficient game, helped by getting to the foul line 8 times and making 7 of them. After a somewhat disappointing regular season, another good showing or two in this tourney could have Shannon moving back up on draft boards.
Johnny Juzang (SG/SF, UCLA)
UCLA found themselves in a heated contest with Akron on Thursday night, but pulled it out in the end. Johnny Juzang did not have a great game, shooting 3 of 11 and scoring 9 points. He chipped in 5 rebounds and 3 steals. UCLA plays a very tough Saint Mary’s team in round 2.
Jaime Jaquez Jr (SG/SF, UCLA)
Much like Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr didn’t have a good shooting game, going 3 for 10. He did get to the line 8 times, making 7 of them, so efficiency wise it wasn’t too bad with his 15 points. Jaquez also had 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Jaquez and Juzang will need to shoot well if they want a repeat trip back to the Final Four.
Peyton Watson (SF, UCLA)
Peyton Watson was a super high recruit that simply hasn’t yet panned out. He may still enter the draft and bank on that upside to get him drafted, but he hasn’t shown much at the college level and might elect to go back for another year. Watson played just 6 minutes against Akron. He was 2 for 3 shooting and had 5 points, but registered no other stats.
Keve Aluma (PF, Virginia Tech)
Virginia Tech had a magical run through the ACC Tournament to get an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. A lot of people thought they would be a team that could upset some higher seeds. Their season came to an end as they lost to Texas in the 1st round. Keve Aluma had a solid game, making 7 of 10 of his shots to score 15 points. He also pulled down 6 rebounds. At 23 years old and not the tallest or most athletic player, he’ll have to work really hard to make an NBA roster. He does have a good skill set, but will be a little undersized in the post and may not be quick enough to play out on the perimeter.
Mike Miles Jr (PG, TCU)
Mike Miles Jr had a really nice game for TCU as they easily defeated Seton Hall. He had a game high 21 points on 9 of 18 shooting. TCU’s defense smothered Seton Hall, only allowing them to score 41 points for the entire game. If the defense continues to play well combined with the scoring from Miles, TCU could maybe upset Arizona in their next game. That is going to be a very tough task with how well Arizona has been playing.
Isaiah Mobley (PF/C, USC)
USC lost by 2 points to Miami and Isaiah Mobley is going to be thinking about this one all off season. He shot just 3 for 11 from the field, scoring just 11 points. His passing was really good in this one with 8 assists and he also had 5 rebounds but it just wasn’t enough and USC is headed home. Mobley has one more year of eligibility and it will be interesting to see if he stays for one more year or enters the draft.
Justin Moore (SG, Villanova)
The Villanova Wildcats disposed of the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens and Justin Moore was a big reason why. The junior guard had a game-high 21 points and dished out 6 dimes. Moore will go head-to-head with fellow draft prospect Malaki Branham and the Ohio State Buckeyes in round 2. Whoever comes out on top in that matchup might be the key to which team makes the Sweet 16.
Justin Lewis (SF/PF, Marquette)
This was a performance to forget for Justin Lewis and the Marquette Golden Eagles. Lewis averaged 16.8 points per game going into this one, but a miserable 2 for 15 shooting night led to him scoring a meager 6 points. He did grab 8 rebounds but he’s another player that will have a tough decision to stick in the draft or go back to school to develop his skills more.