NCAA Tournament 2017: Top 5 Hidden NBA Draft Prospects Ready For March Madness

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With the NCAA March Madness Tournament right around the corner, the entire world is tuned in to watch the best the NCAA has to offer, and the NBA’s future bright stars. However, not all of the prospects in the Tournament start off as household names. Players like Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis made their name through amazing tournament runs. Below is a list of 5 NBA Draft Prospects who are ready to take the world by storm and help their draft stock this June.

5. Cameron Oliver, Nevada, PF, 6’8, 225lb, Sophomore

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Stuck in a Mid-Major Conference with Nevada, Cameron Oliver is the prototypical Power Forward that is succeeding in today’s NBA. With explosive athleticism leading to highlight dunks, and quick foot speed, Oliver has the ability to play defense on quicker Power Forward in smaller lineups. In addition, at a solid 225lb with more space to fill out, Oliver can hold his own down low.

The best thing about Oliver’s NBA case however, is that he has developed a strong outside shooting game. He is shooting 39% from 3 this season, on almost 5 attempts per game. With Nevada finally getting National attention this March in the NCAA Tournament, look for Oliver to impress with his solid 3-point stroke and his highlight dunks.

My Current Draft Projection for Cameron Oliver: Late-First Round - Early-Second Round

NBA Comparison: Marquese Chriss

4. Semi Ojeleye, SMU, SF/PF, 6’8, 230lb, Junior

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A former player at Duke, Semi Ojeleye has thrived in his first season at SMU, becoming one of the most valuable players in the country. Ojeleye is 3rd in the entire NCAA in Win Shares at 7.1, meaning that he was essentially the 3rd most valuable player to his team in the country. Looking forwards to the NBA, Ojeleye shares many skills with Cameron Oliver, both stretch-four players, capable of banging down low, and shooting from deep. Ojeleye has been even stronger from 3 this season, shooting a scorching 42% from 3 this season. This is shown to be even more impressive as Ojeleye is the main scoring option on a team in a strong conference, meaning the attention is always on him.

A good scorer who should be able to perform as a role player in the NBA at the big man position is always valuable these days, and Ojeleye fits the bill perfectly. The NCAA Tournament should showcase his scoring ability for the National Spotlight.

My Current Draft Projection for Semi Ojeleye: Late-First Round - Early-Second Round

NBA Comparison: Tobias Harris

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3. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina, SG/SF, 6’5, 215lb, Senior

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Having a great season for South Carolina, Sindarius Thornwell took his name from out of the NBA Draft conversation to in it. Unlike the two guys above, Thornwell may not get drafted, but he can use the NCAA Tournament to showcase his ability to take over games. That ability has been shown no greater than a game against Georgia earlier this season where Thornwell had 44 points, 21 rebounds as a guard, and attempted a ridiculous 33 free throws, making 25 of them. Also, being 2nd in the entire NCAA in Box Plus/Minus means that his team is much better when he is on the court.

A streaky shooter, Thornwell knows how to put the basketball in the basket, simple as that. Those guys tend to do very well in the NCAA Tournament to boost their draft stock. Not to mention, this may be his last opportunity to prove to NBA scouts he belongs, so odds are he makes good on it.

My Current Draft Projection for Sindarius Thornwell: Late-Second Round - Undrafted

NBA Comparison: Dion Waiters

2. John Collins, Wake Forest, PF, 6’10, 218lb, Sophomore

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Continuing the theme of modern big men, John Collins has the same intangibles of speed and size that Cameron Oliver and Semi Ojeleye possess, but also major production to back it up. Collins had a ridiculous streak of 12 straight games with at least 20 points and 7 rebounds end recently. It was not like this was weak competition, it was against the best Conference in the NCAA this season, the ACC. Leading the entire NCAA in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), Collins has literally been, the most productive player in the whole country at the college level.

Looking towards the NBA, teams would probably like if he were to develop a 3 point shot, as he has not taken one yet this year, but otherwise, he seems to be a great fit to the NBA game. Looking towards the tournament, John Collins is looking to prove that he is able to put his major production on display for all to see.

My Current Draft Projection for John Collins: Late-Lottery - Mid-First Round

NBA Comparison: LaMarcus Aldridge

1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue, PF, 6’9, 260lb, Sophomore

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Already named the Big 10 Player of the Year, Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan is on a short list for National PotY due to his giant leap from his 1st to 2nd season in University at Purdue. Once weighing 400 pounds in Grade 9, Swanigan has completely changed his body and his game to become a double-double machine, leading the country with 26 double-doubles in 32 games. Not only is he 2nd in the NCAA in rebounding, he has stretched his game and is shooting a phenomenal 43% from 3 this season.

The only reason that Swanigan has not climbed too high off draft boards is the fact that he is not a good defender (0.4stl, 0.8blk) and is a below-average athlete. With that being said, a strong NCAA Tournament full of double-doubles should lead to assurance from NBA teams of his fit in the league.

My Current Draft Projection for Caleb Swanigan: Late-First Round

NBA Comparison: Zach Randolph

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