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Adreian Payne, Tyler Ennis stand out in first day of NCAA tournament

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At 22-45, the Lakers are in position to have a top-10 pick in June's NBA draft.

A number of first-round prospects can be found in the NCAA tournament, which started this week.

Thursday's games didn't feature many top prospects, but Tyler Ennis of third-seeded Syracuse helped the Orange to an easy win over No. 14 Western Michigan, 77-53.

Ennis, a 6-foot-2, 19-year old freshman point guard, projects to be a lottery, or top 14, pick.

On Thursday, Ennis played 36 minutes, scoring 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting with six assists and just one turnover.

Six-foot-eight Syracuse sophomore Jerami Grant, who also scored 16, may be a mid to late first-rounder in June.

In a surprise performance that drew national attention, Adreian Payne of fourth-seeded Michigan State scored 41 points against 13th-seeded Delaware.

Payne, a 6-foot-9 senior, shot 10 of 15 from the field and 17 of 17 from the free-throw line in a performance that should bolster his draft stock.

At 23, Payne's experience may make him NBA-ready as a rookie, but with lottery picks teams tend to favor younger players with greater upside.

Six-foot-five sophomore shooting guard Gary Harris is projected to be taken before Payne. Against Delaware, Harris scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

The Lakers have the fifth-worst record in the league.

Ennis would need a strong tournament to climb into the Lakers' draft territory. As great as Payne was Thursday, he'll need to play like that every night to elevate into a lottery pick.

A number of high-level prospects play Friday, including Duke's Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Kentucky's Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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