By Matt Esposito
The NCAA tournament has been entertaining, face paced, and filled with underdogs overcoming adversity. In many ways, it mirrors the Celtics season. With a lull in Cs action however, it’s time to watch some Sweet 16 games. So, what prospects should we be looking for?
Everyone knows the big names out there. Josh Jackson has been phenomenal. If his offense is for real than he could be what everyone wants Andrew Wiggins to be. Lonzo Ball has done Lonzo Ball things. De’Aaron Fox has looked like a quicker version of Jrue Holiday with some a little nastiness thrown in there. The discussion about Ainge’s first round pick has been engaging but exhaustive. What second rounders are out there? Who are the diamonds in the rough we should be keeping out eye out for as these next games commence?
Come watch this 6’5” senior guard take on Baylor. Thornwell has shot right around 40% from deep this year and has shown he is an above average passer. With a 6’9” wingspan, the South Carolina native certainly has the tools to be a multipositional defender at the next level. His frame and talents are what’s hot in today’s league. Thornwell will keep the ball moving, potentially stretch the floor and can switch off many pick and rolls. He’s worth an early second round pick in the hopes he can become a clone of Jae Crowder.
Bulky, husky centers do not seem to last too long in today’s game. Look no further than Jared Sullinger for proof. Yet, Meeks would fulfill a need for the Celtics: rebounding. Standing at 6’9” with a 7 foot wingspan, Meeks average 9 boards a game this year. Everyone misses in college, so there are plenty of boards to get. Still, Meeks did this in 23 minutes per game. He could be worth a second round flier especially with Jordan Mickey not working out as of yet.
Guess what? There is an even better Carolina center to watch. Currently a freshman, Bradley is an inch taller than Meeks and has a massive 7’4” wingspan. In limited minutes for UNC he has demonstrated that he can grab boards has some touch from the mid range. Shot blocking would have to be taught, as Bradley has not displayed a tendency to protect the rim yet. Still, all the tools are there. If UNC reaches the elite eight or final four Bradley may think about bolting. He could be there in the second round due to the amount of talent in this draft.
Chris Boucher/ Jordan Bell
Boucher is currently injured but get ready to watch some Jordan Bell as his Ducks take on Michigan. Another tall center, Bell projects as a power forward at the next level. What makes him intriguing is his natural athleticism. Bell is Oregon’s all time shot blocker but is quick enough to switch pick and rolls. His impressive steal rate supports that claim. A good tourney could bump Bell’s stock to a late first/early second round pick. The C’s could desperately use a rim running paint protector. Boucher is another interesting talent. He may actually be the better shot blocker of the two and can hit the outside shot. Yet, he is rail thin and more of project, especially since coming off of an injury. A let second rounder would be a good pick to spend on him, however.
Another Duck, Brooks measures in as 6’7” but has a below average wingspan. This may not be a problem for the Cs, as they seem to favor skills over measurables (see Bradley, Avery. Thomas, Isaiah). Brooks has shown the potential to stretch the floor and powerful athleticism. He may not have the quickest feet but his strength could make him a coveted 3/4 hybrid on the next level. He could be a poor man’s Jae Crowder, which would be a solid rotation player in the NBA.