Lakers Now

For Lakers, plenty of draft prospects to watch in NCAA tournament

There are plenty of potential Lakers draft picks taking part in this year's NCAA tournament

March Madness tips off Tuesday with play-in games, followed by the round of 64 starting Thursday.

The Lakers, with up to four picks in June's 2015 NBA draft, will have plenty of prospects to watch throughout the NCAA tournament

Provided the team gets through May's draft lottery with a top-five pick, which will otherwise go to the Philadelphia 76ers (via the Phoenix Suns), they may have a chance at some of the best players in the tournament.

The undefeated Kentucky Wildcats (34-0 and the No. 1 overall seed) continue their quest for a perfect season on Thursday against the winner of the Hampton-Manhattan match-up in the Midwest Regional on Tuesday.

The Wildcats have a pair of big men to watch in Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. Towns is a versatile two-way player at either power forward or center. Cauley-Stein isn't much of a scorer, but he's an impressive defender and shot-blocker.

Towns projects to be a top two pick in June; Stein seems a lock to go somewhere in the top 14 (or even top 10).

Also Thursday, Ohio State, a No. 10 seed, led by combo guard D'Angelo Russell, will play No. 7 seed VCU, in the West Regional.

Also in the West, Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson will be on display when the second-seeded Wildcats take on No. 15 Texas Southern.

Duke's Jahlil Okafor will play on Friday, with the top-seeded Blue Devils facing the winner of Wednesday's play-in game between North Florida and Robert Morris in the South Regional.

Okafor is a serious offensive force at the center position, and will probably go first or second in the draft.  His teammate, small forward Justice Winslow, might also be a top 10 selection.

Friday will also feature Wisconsin, No. 1 in the West, vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina. With a strong performance, Badgers big man Frank Kaminsky could land with a lottery team.

The Lakers will have to look very closely at the entire tournament. As of Tuesday, they'd have their own picks at fourth and 34th, plus the Houston Rockets' first at 26 and the Clippers' second at 53.

The Clippers' pick only conveys to the Lakers if it's in the 51-55 range.

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

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
73°