NCAA Eye for the NBA Guy: West Regional, Day 2
The second day of action in the West regional starts early in Milwaukee with Xavier facing Minnesota and Pitt taking on Oakland. Later in the day in Buffalo, the region's top-seeded Syracuse Orangemen meet Vermont, while Gonzaga and Florida State engage in what should be a compelling 8-9 battle.
Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
22 years old, 6'7, 195 lbs., Junior
Wes Johnson is one of the more exciting small forward prospects in the draft, a true livewire with an obvious feel for the team game and some NBA defensive potential, something that rarely shows through Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone. Think Donte Greene with a bit more polish (and perhaps strength). -- T.Z.
Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
21 years old, 7'1, 250 lbs., Sophomore
Thabeet Part 2? That's simplistic, but fair. Alabi might be ready to make a difference for an NBA defense right away, but his offense is raw, perhaps slightly less so than that of 2009 No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet. Of course, Alabi will never go as high as Hasheem did, so the immediate impact is perhaps less of a concern for the scouts watching him. Against Gonzaga and perhaps Syracuse, he'll get to show what he can do, though: defend, defend, defend. -- T.Z.
Elias Harris, SF, Gonzaga
20 years old, 6'7, 220 lbs., Freshman
Scouts assigned to Harris probably couldn't ask for two more telling matchups, with Florida State lining up Friday and Syracuse looking like the Sunday opponent, assuming Gonzaga wins its opener. Harris is a strong-willed scorer who hammered the WCC this season, and he has range, shooting 47 percent on his selectively chosen three-pointers. He also happens to be a solid rebounder and good foul-drawer, two keys for NBA success. When he graces the NBA with his presence, he'll turn some heads. -- T.Z.
Chris Singleton, PF, Florida State
20 years old, 6'8, 210 lbs., Sophomore
The Seminoles' tweener might be the best NBA prospect in this region, provided he figures out a more efficient way to finish and either abandons long jumpers or starts making them. His defense and rebounding are NBA-ready, and if teams look him to fill a Udonis Haslem-like role, he could excel. But expecting an offensive focal point would be a mistake at this point. Because of the way the market works, offense rules the draft, so Singleton might have a tough time convincing teams he's worthy of a lottery pick. If he ends up coming back to school, next year will be a huge opportunity to develop that offensive game. -- T.Z.
Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State
20 years old, 6'4, 185 lbs., Freshman
Clearly a second-tier recruit heading into his freshman season, Snaer continued the narrative: he has clear NBA potential, but will have to work hard to realize it. That's the case for most prospects, and the good news is that he's in the right program to help him round into form. Watch him in the open court in the Gonzaga game. -- T.Z.
Matt Bouldin, PG, Gonzaga
22 years old, 6'5, 215 lbs., Senior
He isn't the flashiest or the most athletic but for four years Matt Bouldin got it done. A shooting guard who has been forced to play some point, the West Coast Conference POY has been the staple of productivity. A good outside shooter, Bouldin is a tough defender who relies on his sheer strength to bully smaller guards away from the basket. He comes off screens well and has one of the most efficient pull-up games in the country. If the Zags have any chance of making a run, this is the guy who will carry them. He won't be a first-round pick come June, but Bouldin could find a home in the NBA based on his grit and ultra-high skill level. -- Jordan Schultz
And Four More ...
Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse -- What does Wes Johnson have that Joseph doesn't? Some rebounding, some range and some basketball IQ. That may seem like a lot, but Joseph isn't that far off. He'll undoubtedly stay with the Orange as Wes moves on to the NBA, so we'll get a better idea of exactly what type of pro Joseph can be next season. -- T.Z.
Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier -- Remember the dude who dunked over LeBron? This is him. Fresh off a buzz-heavy summer, Crawford had an outstanding season for the Musketeers, earning first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors. Crawford is the go-to option late in games and one of the better guards in this tournament. -- J.S.
Blake Hoffarber, SG, Minnesota -- Speaking of remembering ... Hoffarber is the kid who drained that improbable 18-footer from his back in the Minnesota high school state championship game in 2005, so he's no stranger to clutch moments. The nation's leading 3-point shooter is a left-handed Jimmy Chitwood. He's not a shot creator, but he is the ultimate long-range poacher. The Gophers do a great job at freeing him up in their offensive sets and, once he hits one, he can get hot in a hurry. -- J.S.
Keith Benson, PF, Oakland -- Benson is a smooth scoring big man with buckets of rebounding prowess. He could be a poor man's Jason Thompson, provided he shows the ability to defend. -- T.Z.