Three players who helped their NBA draft stock with strong NCAA Tournaments


Illinois v Connecticut

In most years, the NCAA Tournament doesn’t move the NBA Draft needle for players, at least not with teams who did their homework (or whose owners don’t fall in love with a player and put their finger on the scale). Scouts have watched these guys for years, they know who they are and what they can do before any of us have even filled out a bracket.

This year is a little different. In a down draft where teams are searching for a diamond in the rough to select, a strong NCAA Tournament can change a player’s fortunes. Prove what you can do under the pressure and bright lights of the tournament, and your stock goes up.

Here are three players who helped their stock the most in the tournament.

Donovan Clingan, UConn

Nobody has shot up draft boards during the NCAA Tournament like Clingan, the 7’2″ center for the UConn Huskies, and he could be a top-five pick now. He’s a player who likely would have gone in the lottery a year ago but went back to college for another year and it’s helped his draft stock — not the regular season, where he was injured for most of it, but in the NCAA Tournament. His eight blocks against Northwestern were hard to ignore, especially this one near the top of the backboard.

Clingan has shown improved mobility, particularly on the pick-and-roll and in transition defense. He has absolutely owned the paint, he’s shown off an ability to read the double-team and make the right pass, and he has a soft touch and can finish around the rim. He had maybe his best game against Illinois to help UConn reach the final four, with ESPN’s tracking data saying Illini players shot 0-of-19 when he guarded them.

All those skills translate to the next level, which is why Clingan’s stock is up — in an uncertain draft, pick him and a team knows it’s getting a solid big who can be part of their rotation. Maybe more important to teams than Clingan’s high ceiling as rim-running, paint-protecting big, it’s his high floor that has him moving up draft boards. This is also not a great draft for centers, and while French international Alex Sarr (playing for Perth in the Australian league this season)…

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Author : NBC Sports

Publish date : 2024-04-02 14:56:40

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