Royce White, F, Iowa State – Looked like an absolute stud dominating UConn (15 points, 13 rebounds). More than held his own against Kentucky’s NBA talent before fouling out (23 points, nine rebounds). He shot 15-for-21 in two games, played some point guard, and looked like a cross between Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley in the body of Brandon Bass.
He’s got two more years of eligibility. Taking into account his Cam Newton-type baggage … if he were to come out this year, he’s a first-round lock, and possibly even a lottery pick. At 6-foot-8, 260, he could make for a destructive power forward. (Or possibly, an NFL tight end!)
But White could return to Iowa State, and if he does, the Cyclones might open the season in the preseason Top 10. Fred Hoiberg has former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious and former Utah wing Will Clyburn entering the mix, and depending how much talent Baylor, Kansas and Missouri lose, the Cyclones could open the season as one of the favorites in the Big 12.
Andrew Nicholson, F, St. Bonaventure – The 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward tore up Florida State – 20 points, seven rebounds, 4-5 shooting on 3-pointers – but the Bonnies lost a close one. On the heels of his 26-14 against Xavier in the A-10 title game, Nicholson definitely vaulted himself into the 1st round of the 2012 draft. He’s got a nice baby hook and nice touch from deep (43 percent on the season). He doesn’t wow you with athleticism, but he’s makes up for it with brains (physics major). I can see him having a solid 10-year career as a valuable reserve.
Edward Daniel, F, Murray State – The only Racer anyone talked about all season was scoring guard Isaiah Canaan (who will play in the NBA), but Daniel emerged as a pro prospect last weekend. He’s probably too undersized to be a starter at power forward (6-7, 220) in the NBA, and doesn’t have the offensive skills to be a small forward. But he’s a tremendous athlete who looked very impressive collected 14 rebounds against Marquette. He had four steals against Colorado State. Bouncy and athletic, his afro may make some people think he’s a Ben Wallace-type player. Check out the two blocks he had against Marquette. Only a junior, if he can improve at all offensively, I can see him as a 2nd round pick.
DeShaun Thomas, F, Ohio State – He’s really emerged as the team’s best offensive player. Coming into the season, he was probably behind Sullinger and Buford as an offensive threat, but since dropping 25-13 on Michigan on Feb. 18, Thomas has been the Buckeyes’ best player. Opening round win: 31 points, 12 rebounds in a romp over Loyola. He added 18 points and seven rebounds against Gonzaga. He’s a lefty with long arms and a nice touch from deep (35 percent on the season). Not quite sure if Thomas – who is the 3rd leading scorer in Indiana high school basketball history (he averaged over 28 ppg all four years) – would be lottery material if he left this season, but I think at this point, he’s surpassed Sullinger based on NBA upside. Thomas reminds me of a much more aggressive, taller, Michael Redd.
Draymond Green, F, Michigan State – Earlier in the season I thought he was just a really, really great college basketball player who probably wouldn’t amount to much in the pros, or at best would be a 2nd round draft pick. Now he has the makings of being a key 6th or 7th man on a winning team, and probably will be a first round pick this year. Green posted 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Long Island in the first round, then 16-13-6 against Saint Louis including clutch play – which is his trademark – late. He’s just such a great complete all-around player. Maybe a do-it-all forward like Boris Diaw? There’s immense value in having a quality bench – see Chicago – and right now I’d peg Green anywhere from 20-30 in June.
Just missed the cut, but their stock is on the rise, too: CJ Leslie, NC State (sophomore); Robbie Hummel, Purdue (senior); Otto Porter, Georgetown (freshman); Drew Gordon, New Mexico (senior); Rodney McGruder, Kansas State (junior).