March Madness 2019: Top 50 NBA Draft prospects to watch in the NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament is officially here and the madness of March is upon us. With college basketball’s regular season over not only have we updated our NBA Draft Prospect Rankings for the 2019 NBA Draft, but we can look at the top prospects who wil be playing in the NCAA Tournament

And this ranking of the the pro prospects may help you guide your decision-making as you wander about making picks on your bracket. The more top-end talent a team has, the more enticing it may be for you to pick a particular team to advance in your bracket.

Such is why Duke is such an appealing team this March. Armed with three of the top four players in this year’s draft class, the Blue Devils are deep and dangerous. They are led by freshman Zion Williamson, who remains firmly entrenched as the No. 1 prospect in our latest round of updates, despite missing more than two weeks recovering from a mild Grade 1 knee sprain. Williamson’s impact on every facet of the game has earned him separation in his own tier in the games he has played, time away be damned. 

Before we get to the top prospects in the Big Dance, let’s look at some of the notable risers and fallers in the NBA Draft Prospect Rankings through the end of the college basketball season.

Risers

Coby White, North Carolina

Prospect rank: No. 9

Ahead of the season, it was Nassir Little drawing all the preseason buzz as a pro prospect. But his stellar, offense-generating teammate, Coby White, has built a strong case showing his value as being worthy of a higher selection this summer. White’s reputation as a do-it-all scorer in high school — his 3,573 points is a North Carolina high school state record — has absolutely translated to the Division I level. That much isn’t surprising. What is surprising, pleasantly, is his progression as both an offense initiator, ball-handler, and spot-up shooter. With a projectable 6-foot-5 frame, White figures to be a potential starting level NBA point guard with steady development; at the very least, he can be a lethal off-ball threat with his ability to knock down open looks from the perimeter.

PJ Washington, Kentucky

Prospect rank: No. 12

PJ Washington’s decision to return for a second season at Kentucky — a decision many five-stars who attend UK don’t make — was questioned by a select few. Those select few look bad now. Washington’s gotten better as the season has worn on for the Wildcats, and he’s a big reason they are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, he’s playing his best ball of his collegiate career. The two developments are not a coincidence; Washington’s averaging 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season and shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from 3-point range, all markedly better than last season. His floor-spacing, size and potential as a plug-and-play role player will be appealing for a team looking to upgrade frontcourt depth in the back end of the lottery.

Grant Williams, Tennessee

Prospect rank: No. 14

Grant Williams’ game has filled out a lot from last season, and he’s answered a lot of questions about how his talents will project to the NBA level. Most important of these developments is his near tripling of accuracy from distance, as he’s shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range this season in comparison to 12.0 percent last year. He doesn’t take a lot of 3-pointers — a byproduct of the Vols’ system much more than his tendencies — but his development in that area is positive evidence he can be a reliable shooter on the perimeter as opposed to being a liability; teams will have to defend him from outside as opposed to leaving him open and giving him the Marcus Smart treatment. Williams’ body and frame allow him the capability to take defenders off the drive in the SEC, and he’s a savvy scorer who can finish in traffic, but questions about how his biggest strengths will translate may keep him from going this high.

Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

Prospect rank: No. 15

In a season where Duke freshman Zion Williamson is making history with a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) that is continually hovering in the low 40s, Gonzaga star Brandon Clarke has quietly been on his heels at No. 2 most of the season. Clarke led all of Division I in the regular season with a 69.3 field-goal percentage, ahead of Williamson, who shot 68.3 percent, and rated inside the top-five in KenPom’s offensive rating metric, eFG percentage and true shooting%. For a 6-8 forward he rebounds at a really high rate, too, and oh, by the way, he led the WCC in blocks with 3.1 per game — more than double Theo Akwuba, who finished second in the category in the regular season. Clarke isn’t a floor-spacer a la Washington, as he rarely takes 3-pointers, but he’s dominant in everything else in his bag; if the 3-point shot develops as some anticipate it could with his near 70 percent free-throw percentage, he could wind up being a bona fide top-five player in this class.

Fallers

Romeo Langford, Indiana

Prospect rank: No. 17

Ironically, Romeo Langford’s perceived biggest asset as a future pro coming into the season — his shooting and scoring potential — has turned into one of his question marks about how his game will fit in the NBA. Langford’s been a high volume, low efficiency scorer for a cruddy Indiana team, and he’s turning it over at almost exactly the same rate he’s converting assists. Still only 19, some NBA team is likely itching to pull the trigger on him if he slips to 17 given his blue-chip resume coming out of high school and potential to become a great NBA shooting guard, but he’s not been impressive as a spot-up shooter overall.

Bol Bol, Oregon

Prospect rank: No. 23

Bol Bol, Oregon’s 7-2 sharpshooting rim protector, has lottery talent. Injury concerns could push him down later in the first, however. He sustained a season-ending foot injury earlier this year, an injury that’s at the very least mildly troublesome for someone his size. His production won’t let him slip too far though. In nine games, he averaged 21 points, 2.7 blocks and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting 52 percent from the 3-point line. If he’s able to keep his health, a team is going to get a unicorn prospect in the late first. When you get past the lottery, the rewards will far outweigh the risk for some team hoping he can stay on the floor.

Quentin Grimes, Kansas

Prospect rank: No. 74

Grimes entered the season a five-star prospect and a projected top-10 pick, and will likely end his debut season as one of the more disappointing blue-chippers at Kansas. Grimes has been a clunky fit in KU’s system, and thus far has been unreliable as a rotation player for the Jayhawks, his stock slipping all the while. He’s had to re-make his game on the fly in Lawrence, as KU has pushed him off the ball and thus asked him to make open shots, and he’s struggled. Improving his jumper and shooting off the catch will be the key to unlocking the lottery talent he brought with him to the collegiate level.

Top 50 NBA Draft prospects in the NCAA Tournament

Rank Player School Class Pos. Ht. Wt.
1 Zion Williamson Duke Fr PF 6-7 285
2 Ja Morant Murray St. Soph PG 6-3 175
3 RJ Barrett Duke Fr SF 6-7 202
4 Cam Reddish Duke Fr SF 6-8 218
5 De’Andre Hunter Virginia Soph SF 6-7 225
6 Jaxson Hayes Texas Fr PF 6-11 220
7 Jarrett Culver Texas Tech Soph SG 6-6 195
8 Coby White N. Carolina Fr PG 6-5 185
9 Nassir Little N. Carolina Fr SF 6-6 220
10 Keldon Johnson Kentucky Fr SG 6-6 211
11 PJ Washington Kentucky Soph PF 6-8 228
12 Grant Williams Tennessee Jr PF 6-7 236
13 Brandon Clarke Gonzaga Jr PF 6-8 215
14 Rui Hachimura Gonzaga Jr PF 6-8 230
15 Nickeil Alexander-Walker Va. Tech Soph SG 6-5 205
16 Tyler Herro Kentucky Fr SG 6-5 195
17 Ty Jerome Virginia Jr PG 6-5 195
18 Luguentz Dort Arizona St. Fr SG 6-4 215
19 Tre Jones Duke Fr PG 6-2 183
20 Talen Horton-Tucker Iowa St. Fr SF 6-4 233
21 Admiral Schofield Tennessee Sr SG 6-6 241
22 Bruno Fernando Maryland Soph C 6-10 240
23 Cameron Johnson N. Carolina Sr SF 6-9 210
24 Eric Paschall Villanova Sr PF 6-8 255
25 Ashton Hagans Kentucky Fr PG 6-3 192
26 Jalen McDaniels San Diego St Soph PF 6-10 195
27 Jalen Smith Maryland Fr PF 6-10 215
28 Carsen Edwards Purdue Jr PG 6-1 200
29 Matisse Thybulle Washington Sr SG 6-5 200
30 Naz Reid LSU Fr PF 6-10 250
31 Dylan Windler Belmont Sr SG 6-8 200
32 Chuma Okeke Auburn Soph SF 6-8 230
33 Shamorie Ponds St. John’s Jr PG 6-1 180
34 Dedric Lawson Kansas Jr PF 6-9 235
35 Louis King Oregon Fr SF 6-9 205
36 Killian Tillie Gonzaga Jr PF 6-10 220
37 Charles Matthews Michigan Sr SG 6-6 205
38 Miye Oni Yale Jr SG 6-6 210
39 Tyus Battle Syracuse Jr PG 6-6 205
40 Aric Holman Miss. State Sr PF 6-10 225
41 Ignas Brazdeikis Michigan Fr SF 6-7 215
42 Dean Wade Kansas St. Sr PF 6-10 228
43 Tremont Waters LSU Soph PG 5-11 175
44 Kenny Wooten Oregon Soph PF 6-9 235
45 Lindell Wigginton Iowa St. Soph PG 6-2 189
46 Xavier Sneed Kansas St. Jr SG 6-5 220
47 Tyrese Haliburton Iowa St. Fr PG 6-5 172
48 Markus Howard Marquette Jr PG 5-11 175
49 Quentin Grimes Kansas Fr SG 6-5 210
50 Jordan Poole Michigan Soph PG 6-5 195
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