Five Players Who Could Boost Their Draft Stocks in March Madness
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The NCAA Tournament is great for making legends in the college game, but it can also impact the professional futures of the players involved. A player's performance in the tournament can have a drastic impact on where they end up being drafted. And while struggling in the tournament can cause a player to slide in the draft, a great run in the tournament can help a player get drafted higher. These five players, in particular, have a lot on the line, and can help their draft stocks over the next few weeks.
1. Tre Jones, Duke
Tre Jones is something of a forgotten man at Duke, in that he is a tremendously talented guard prospect, but he's buried behind three bigger stars on his own roster. This NCAA Tournament is a great chance for Jones to escape the shadow of Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and RJ Barrett. With Williamson's health in question, Jones might be called on to provide more of a spark offensively, in addition to his already strong distribution skills. As he is projected by many to go late in the first round heading into tournament play, this March Madness is a golden opportunity for Jones to go earlier in the draft and be a more important piece on a developing team.
2. Ja Morant, Murray State
Ja Morant is already projected to be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft, thanks to his incredible explosiveness and ability to get to the rim. But while he is currently projected to go behind Duke's Zion Williamson in the 2019 NBA Draft, a prolific run by Morant in this tournament could convince a team in need of a guard to go with Ja. Morant's 36-point outburst in the Ohio Valley Conference title game was a great start, as he carried his team into the big dance almost singlehandedly.
3. Tacko Fall, UCF
Tacko Fall isn't someone that is projected to be drafted by an NBA team this year, despite his 7'6" frame and all of the potential that size can bring. His job this tournament, aside from winning games for UCF, is to show NBA teams that he is worth considering for a spot on a roster. He will need to work on his shooting after this tournament, to say the least. If he can stay out of foul trouble and prove himself as a bona fide rim protector against some highly-ranked teams, he might convince clubs that he is worth a look when the draft rolls around.
4. Markus Howard, Marquette
Heading into the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Markus Howard is projected to be a second-round pick by many NBA Draft experts. Given his incredible scoring ability, that might come as a surprise to some. But if he can continue to put the ball in the basket in bunches in the tourney, he could have a rise up draft boards similar to the one that Trae Young experienced for Oklahoma last year. Howard has feasted on Big East competition this year, but he'll need to do the same against the Dukes and Virginias of the world if he wants to be more likely to be a first rounder.
5. Naz Reid, LSU
LSU big man Naz Reid hasn't put up huge numbers in his freshman season for LSU, averaging 13.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per contest. But those numbers have been good for him to be a potential first-round pick based on his upside. If he can put down a couple of dominant performances in the tournament, he can move up quickly in a draft class where there really aren't many impressive center prospects.