By the time NCAA players reach the big dance, NBA teams have been watching them at little dances for years, so any general manager who’s caught by surprise is in the wrong business.
However, as reputations are made and lost in the World Series, prospects go up and down according to what they do in the limelight. Otherwise, someone has to explain how Duke’s Mike Dunleavy Jr., the most outstanding player in the 2001 tournament, got to No. 3 in the 2002 draft.
With help from an NBA scout, here’s how this year’s tournament has affected the remaining prospects:
Ohio State, center
* Even. Has trouble staying on the floor since opponents attack him and he doesn’t lay back, but when he’s there he dominates. “He still has to be the No. 1 pick,” says the scout.
MIKE CONLEY JR.
Ohio State, guard
* Big plus. People already liked him. Now, says the scout, “He could be the first point guard taken.”
Ohio State, guard
* Big minus. Once in the lottery, he could be in the 20s or out of the first round.
* Plus. He was already a top-10 pick, could be nearing top five.
* Big plus. Slow as his feet are, he’s huge, works hard and passes well. Could get into the bottom of the lottery.
* Plus. The more you see the Gators, the more you realize his defense makes him The Gator. Scouts were off him, but he’s reminding them what they saw in him last spring. If Oden and Texas’
Kevin Durant are there, he could get to No. 3.
* Even, between No. 5 and No. 10. “I think people have him too high,” says the scout. Listed at 6 feet 10, he could be 6-8 but has long arms and works hard.
* Even. Just a fair shooter, but he’s so long and athletic, there’s no way you can miss him.
* Plus. Dropped off the radar but, says the scout, “has a chance” at the first round. Small but poised; has come up big in big games.
* Big plus. But even after his great Kansas game he’s not a first-round lock, which shows what he was up against. “I don’t know about him,” says the scout. Solid as opposed to spectacular, he has to keep coming up big.
* Plus. Scouts liked him despite his lack of size, but got off him when he faded. Great at pressuring the ball, but another year of school would help on offense, where, as CBS’ Jay Bilas keeps saying, he’s “efficient.”
MBAH A MOUTE
* Minus. It’s a shame because he’s such a winner. Totally self-effacing with a great nose for the ball, pros called him “the sane Ron Artest” as an unheralded freshman. Has to learn to shoot and is starting to try -- but more have to go in.