The Connecticut Huskies pulled off a 60-54 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Championship game, ending one of the most entertaining and crazy NCAA Tournaments in memory.
The tournament runs for the two teams in the Championship raises questions for players on either side; did Kentucky jelling at the right time bump any of the youngsters up in NBA draft boards? Does Shabazz Napier's Championship secure him a 1st Round selection?
Certainly, no NBA team will draft a player based only on his tournament run. There's history showing that players won't become a top selection just because of a dominant tournament run (see Chambers, Mario) and it's also been shown that terrible tournament performances won't kill established draft stocks, either (see Harden, James). NCAA Tournament performances are (hopefully) just more pieces of the puzzles for team scouts, but it doesn't hurt when a player shines on the biggest stage.
Let's take a look at some of the Players from the Final Four-click on a player's name and you'll open their DraftExpress profile, which has all of their basic information.
PF Julius Randle, Kentucky
14.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG in the Tournament
Randle was slowed in the last two games by cramps, and while he still played well, he wasn't the same force he'd been earlier in the tournament.
Randle was already a lock for a top six selection before the tournament, but does Kentucky's excellent run (in which he was the teams' best player) give him another notch against Australian guard Dante Exum or Arizona's Aaron Gordon?
Randle isn't on the same draft tier as Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker, but he may be the leader of the next tier after that. He fulfilled all his preseason hype in the tournament.
SF James Young, Kentucky
13.6 PPG, 5 RPG in the Tournament
Young broke out in the final two games, emerging as the Wildcats' best offensive weapon with Randle hobbled. He had 17 points on 5-11 shooting against Wisconsin, and then had 20 points on 5-13 shooting against Connecticut.
Young has the potential to be a fantastic all-around player; He can shoot, he isn't afraid to attack the basket, he's a good rebounder for his size and he's already an above-average defender. He's also an insane athlete, and had the best dunk of the tournament against the Huskies.
When I watch Young, I see a raw player with loads of talent, but I expect he'll be mostly invisible his first few years in the league. Most mocks had him projected as a late lottery/mid-teens selection, but perhaps his impressive tournament run might bump him up a few picks.
PG Shabazz Napier, UConn
20.1 PPG, 4.5 APG in the Tournament
Does winning a Championship and the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player award snag Napier a 1st Round selection?
He's an undersized shooting guard, and his primary instinct is to score, but he has worked hard on becoming more of a floor leader. He didn't have his best game against Kentucky (his 22 points were marred by more than his average number of bad shots and sloppy turnovers), but he still hit big buckets when UConn's offense sputtered.
If he dominates in workouts, he may snag a very late 1st/early 2nd Round selection, and I expect he'll prove to be an solid enough bench sparkplug in the future.
SG Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
13.3 PPG, 42% FG in the Tournament
Harrison was in the mid-to-late lottery on many mocks earlier in the preseason, but Kentucky's rocky season seemed to knock him off that tier. He was one of the Wildcat players who exemplified the team's late turnaround, and he gained attention for his clutch shots in the tournament after he hit three straight game winners. I'd peg him as a late 1st Round selection.