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Draft Preview

Players to Watch: South

by Ed Isaacson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The South region of the NCAA Tournament is headed by number one overall seed Kansas, led by a handful of future NBA players, and Villanova, which doesn’t have as many, but still has a lot of quality players. The rest of the region is packed with NBA prospects, with teams like Vanderbilt, Maryland, Arizona, Connecticut and Wichita State all having multiple prospects. 

 

Here is a short breakdown of the best NBA prospects in the South region, with the players listed in the order of their team’s seed. Click here for the East Region. Click here for the West Region. Click here for the Midwest Region.

 

Cheick Diallo, Freshman, Kansas, F – Diallo’s college career got off to a rough start after he missed the beginning of Kansas’ season while an NCAA investigation took place. Even once he was cleared and able to play, Diallo often had trouble with much of what the team was trying to do on the floor, but the raw ability that made him a big high school recruit would force its way through. 6’9”, with a 7’4” wingspan, Diallo is a bundle of energy on the floor, rushing around trying to make plays on both ends. There isn’t much to his offense right now, especially as a halfcourt scoring option, but he runs the floor very well for his size, and he always looks to finish strong when he has the ball around the basket. Diallo’s bigger impact comes on the defensive end where he can be a good rim protector and rebounder, though some of the finer points of playing defense are still a work-in-progress for him.  Diallo has played less than 200 minutes this whole season, but if he enters this draft, his raw talent could draw some team to use a mid-to-late first round pick on him. 

 

Jaylen Brown, Freshman, California, F – The 6’7”, 225 wing was a consensus top five high school recruit last year, and though he has had typical freshmen rough patches this year, he didn’t disappoint. Solidly built, Brown loves to use his body to attack the basket, often leading to an above-average amount of free throw attempts. He relies on his physical ability more than skill right now, but once he has some momentum on the way to the rim, he is hard to stop. His shooting, both mid- and long-range, isn’t particularly strong right now, but it’s not like his shooting form and motion are broken. With his body, Brown is also able to move to the low post in the right match-ups, using his strength to bully his way to the rim. Brown has improved as a defender this year, and is capable of guarding multiple positions, though he still needs some work on the basics. He’ll likely be a top-ten, possibly top-five pick in June, if he declares for the draft.

 

Ivan Rabb, Freshman, California, F – Another heralded freshman in Berkley, Rabb made steady progress throughout the season to become an important part of the Bears’ rotation. While his low post offense is decent at this stage, he uses his long frame to hit the offensive glass to create extra possessions and easy second-chance opportunities.  Rabb hasn’t shown much offensive ability stepping away from the basket area yet, but he hasn’t looked terrible on his few opportunities shooting the mid-range jumper. He draws a lot of contact around the basket, getting to the line at a very good rate, but at just 67 percent, he needs to convert from the free throw line. Rabb has potential to be a force on the defensive end with his long frame and 7’2” wingspan, though he can get pushed around in the post by stronger offensive players. He does use his reach to an advantage on the defensive boards, where he also shows a determination not always seen in younger players. Rabb could be a possible late lottery pick if he declares for this year’s draft. 

 

Tyrone Wallace, Senior, California, G – Wallace, the senior leader for the Bears, battled injuries this season, but came up big down the stretch as the team made a big run towards the postseason. The 6’6” point guard doesn’t dazzle you in any particular area, but he does a great job running the California offense, while adding a scoring punch when needed.  Wallace uses his size well against opposing defenders, especially when looking to get to the basket, where his long strides are an advantage. Perimeter shooting has never been a strength, but he is capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers consistently, especially off the dribble. Wallace is also a capable pick-and-roll ballhandler, and his ability to make quick reads has improved over the years.  Defensively, Wallace’s size and long arms can cause problems for opponents’ passing lanes, and while he doesn’t have great speed, he has very good instincts. With the NBA looking for size at all positions, Wallace could hear his name called in the second round of this year’s draft.

 

Diamond Stone, Freshman, Maryland, C – As the season went on, Stone became a force in the middle for Maryland, giving them strong play on both ends of the floor. 6’11” and 255 pounds, Stone can be an imposing figure in the post, and he showed impressive skill and footwork for his age. He uses his body well to make his way to the basket, and he has no problem getting physical when hitting the offensive boards. Stone built a good on-court rapport with point guard Melo Trimble, and the duo became very tough to stop in pick-and-roll situations, as well as Stone getting open space around the basket off of Trimble’s penetration. Defensively, other than what seemed like normal freshman lapses, Stone more than held his own in a conference with some quality big men. He’s a good help defender and shot-blocker, and as he continues to work on his body, he can become more of a force. Stone could be a lottery pick if he decides to come out this year, and he should attract many teams with his size and skill for his age.

 

Melo Trimble, Sophomore, Maryland, G – Trimble burst onto the scene as a freshman last year, and while there were some rough patches throughout the season, he showed decent growth. Trimble has good size, 6’3”, and great speed. He is a strong pick-and-roll ballhandler, both as a scorer and passer, though his decision-making can be questionable at times. Trimble is a better shooter than his numbers show, especially from long-range, with poor shot selection being a big culprit. He has the speed to beat defenders off the dribble in isolation, and while a creative finisher around the rim, he isn’t afraid to take some contact, drawing fouls at a good rate. On defense, Trimble can be a pest with his activity, though he can be prone to taking risks, and as a result, can find himself out of position. Still, don’t get sloppy with the ball around him; he will take it from you. Trimble could probably do with another year at Maryland, but if he was to come out, he could sneak into the late first round.

 

Allonzo Trier, Freshman, Arizona, G – Trier came into college with a reputation as a prolific scorer, and at points during the season, you can see how he earned that reputation. At 6’5” or 6’6”, Trier has good size for the shooting guard position, and he uses that size well to try and attack the defense to get to the rim. He has a variety of shots he uses when he is looking to score around the rim, and he searches out contact so he can get to the free throw line, where he knocks down close to 80 percent of his shots. Trier is also very good in transition, though control can be a problem when he is handling the ball. He is a competent perimeter shooter, but still very inconsistent, especially behind the arc, and even with an open shot, he may still look to get to the basket. There’s not much to say about Trier’s defense; he is below-average when he tries, which isn’t always the case. It’s something he will need to improve significantly before the next level. If Trier wants to enter this draft, he may not hear what he’s hoping for, though there’s a chance he can improve in the pre-draft period and stick in the first round. 

 

Josh Scott, Senior, Colorado, F/C – Scott has had a solid career at Colorado, but he had his most prominent showing this past season, especially on offense. Scott, 6’10” and 245 pounds, has good size, and he moves well. He is a strong low post scorer, with good footwork and touch, though his moves can take a bit to develop. Scott also has the ability to step away from the basket and knock down mid-range jumpers with some consistency, and the potential should be there for him to eventually show three-point range.  He is a smart player, with a good idea of court spacing, and he can be a dangerous passer when used to facilitate the offense. Scott hits the boards on both ends of the floor well, though he can stand to be a bit more aggressive when battling for the ball. Defensively, Scott is fundamentally solid, if a bit slow to move and react, but he knows how to hold his ground in the post, and he’s a competent rim protector. Scott could be a decent back-up big man at the NBA level, and he could hear his name called in the second round this year.

 

Wade Baldwin IV, Sophomore, Vanderbilt, G – After a promising freshman season, Baldwin became a known name with his strong early play this season. He has good speed and is a danger in the open court, pushing the ball quickly and, often, headed straight to the rim. A comparison to Russell Westbrook has been thrown around often, and while not entirely accurate, you can see some flashes in transition. Like Westbrook, control can be an issue, at times. Baldwin is also a very good long-range shooter, hitting over 42 percent of his three-point attempts over his first two seasons. Baldwin has made strides as a pick-and-roll ballhandler and passer, though he still needs to work on being patient and making his reads. Defensively, Baldwin’s long arms make him a threat on and off the ball, and while he doesn’t have great size, 6’3”, he did a very good job guarding either backcourt spot. If Baldwin comes out in this draft, he would be my favorite long-term point guard prospect, and could find himself being chosen in the late lottery.

 

Damian Jones, Junior, Vanderbilt, C – Jones, a skilled seven-footer, battled inconsistency in his first two season, but he looked like he took a step forward as a junior.  He is a versatile low post scorer, with good footwork and a nice touch. Jones hasn’t shown a lot with his ability to step away from the basket, but he has looked like he has potential in his limited attempts, especially from the break to the arc.  As with a lot of post scorers, Jones draws a lot of contact, though he needs to find some consistency with his free throw shooting. He can be a force in the paint on defense, using his long reach to block and alter shots, but he does need to watch a tendency to get into foul trouble. Jones is solidly built at 245 pounds, and he uses his body well to defend in the post. I think Jones still has a good deal of untapped potential, and if he was to declare for the draft, he could go near the end of the first round or beginning of the second.   

Others to WatchPerry Ellis, Kansas; Wayne Selden, Kansas; Carlton Bragg, Kansas, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas; Brannen Greene, Kansas; Josh Hart, Villanova; Jabari Bird, California, Jake Layman, Maryland, Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland; Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona; Ryan Anderson, Arizona; Jared Uthoff, Iowa; Daniel Hamilton, Connecticut; Amida Brimah, Connecticut; Jalen Adams, Connecticut; Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt; Fred VanVleet, Wichita State; Ron Baker, Wichita State; Chris Horton, Austin Peay

Ed Isaacson
Ed Isaacson is in his second year of covering the NBA Draft for Rotoworld.com, while his work can also be found at NBADraftblog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @nbadraftblog.