NBA Draft: 5 teams to watch in NCAA Tournament for draft prospects

Scottie Barnes, Florida State Seminoles. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Scottie Barnes, Florida State Seminoles. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images /
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Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State Cowboys
NBA draft Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images /

NBA Draft Prospects: Texas Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns are stocked with intriguing NBA prospects, but none who leap off the page as can’t-miss options. Kai Jones is a 6’11” center who can make magic happen with the ball in his hands, a real weapon against opposing bigs trying to stay in front of him. He’s not the best defensive player yet, but the right NBA development program could shore that up while deploying him well on offense.

He is joined in the Longhorns’ frontcourt by Greg Brown, a nuclear athlete who can leap sky-high for highlight-reel dunks. That athleticism helps him sky for rebounds and finish on the offensive end. Yet right now he is a dependent player, not creating much offense for himself and not producing any for his teammates to an almost comic level. Brown has just 10 total assists in 24 games for the season.

The rest of their rotation is on the fringe of the NBA draft conversation. Jericho Sims is a tough interior defender. Andrew JonesMatt Coleman and Courtney Ramey all average double-digit points as the three-headed guard attack for the Longhorns. A breakout tournament for any one of them, alongside a deep run, could mean a late flier or training camp invitation if that player decides to declare.

NBA Draft Prospects: Oklahoma State Cowboys

While some players in the NBA are stylized as the “lone wolf” without any help, they are at least surrounded by professionals. In college basketball, you truly have some of the most glaring disparities in roster construction. Cade Cunningham is the likely first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but among his Oklahoma State teammates, there may not be a single player who makes it to the NBA in any capacity.

Cunningham is more than enough reason to watch this team, though. The 6’8″ freshman is a massive point guard, handling the ball on every possession and creating offense for both himself and others. He can score inside but also stroke it from deep, well behind the 3-point line. He has tremendous vision for making plays for teammates and also applies his basketball IQ to chase rebounds and position himself defensively.

His motor on defense waxes and wanes, but that’s true of most elite offensive prospects. The one glaring problem are his turnovers, as he has averaged 4.2 turnovers per game this season. He is already the favorite to go first in the draft, but there is the possibility that a high-turnover flameout in the tournament paired with a deep and dominant run from USC’s Evan Mobley or Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs could bump him off the top line for a few teams.