The NCAA Tournament always serves as a great entry point for pure NBA fans to start learning about the stars, stalwarts and sleepers of tomorrow. Here's a look at the names to watch in each region.
(I can already hear the Wizards fans reminding me and the world that their team doesn't have a pick for next season, having dealt the first rounder to the Suns for Markieff Morris and the second for Kelly Oubre Jr. If Washington lands in the lottery, meaning no playoffs, there could be some ping-pong magic in play. If the Wizards land one of the top three picks, they keep the top 9 protected pick, though they'd be in position to lose their 2017 first. They could also trade back into the draft. I've seen scouts at college games following the Morris trade. Otherwise and most likely, what you said.)
East: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
Closest thing to John Wall on the college level. The Big East Player of the Year offers size, athleticism and court vision with a scoring knack. That package will entice a team with a top 5-7 pick to bring the junior aboard. With Dunn and scoring forward Ben Bentil, arguably the most improved player in the country, the Friars could put a second-round scare into top-seeded North Carolina.
Other prospects: Jamal Murray (Kentucky), Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame), Skal Labissiere (Kentucky), Tyler Ulis (Kentucky), Brice Johnson (North Carolina)
West: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
It's true, LSU's Ben Simmons won't participate in the Madness of March, but that doesn't mean the top prospect won't play. That's because some believe the top prospect is the lanky Ingram, an explosive 6-foot-9 threat from all angles. Whether anyone besides Simmons goes No. 1 in June's draft largely depends on Simmons, but Ingram has a rather large stage to show why he's worthy. He probably has more at stake than any prospect in the draft.
Other prospects: Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Grayson Allen (Duke), Taurean Prince (Baylor)
Midwest: Domantas Sabonis, C, Gonzaga
NBA fans know that last name, might they might not be familiar with the game. Arvydas's son isn't the old school low post threat with a brilliant knack for passing like his father, but the 6-foot-11 big man is most definitely skilled. Sabonis can score inside or serve as a face-up shooter. Most projections slot him in the bottom half of the first round. That's where playoff teams are picking and squads at that level desire immediate help. That's Sabonis. Potential second-round matchup against Utah Jakob Poeltl, a likely top 10 pick, will draw plenty of attention from the scouting world.
Other prospects: Jakob Poeltl (Utah), Deyonta Davis (Michigan State), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall)
South: Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland
Fine, you're surely familiar with this local product who is wrapping up a second straight productive season at College Park. What you may not realize is how much the sophomore standout's draft stock fluctuated this season. Considered a fringe first-round pick when the season tipped, the 6-foot-2-ish Trimble zoomed into the middle of Draft Express' round one by February following breathtaking performances against the likes of North Carolina and Connecticut and Michigan State. Then Trimble' shot disappeared over the final 10 games, including a dismal 2 for 15 in the Big Ten semifinal loss. Perhaps injuries played a part. Maybe the grind of a season or drifting focus toward his future. With a playmakers knack and the guts of a burglar, Trimble has the goods for plenty of shining moments. If he does, the scouting world will take notice. If not Maryland will be done quick and Trimble's stock could be such that he's not done playing for the Terps.
Others: Jaylen Brown (Cal), Ivan Rabb (Cal), Diamond Stone (Maryland), Damian Jones (Vanderbilt), Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt), Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa)
MORE WIZARDS: John Wall fills out bracket game-by-game on CSN