The NCAA tournament concluded Monday night with the Connecticut Huskies winning the national title, defeating the Kentucky Wildcats, 60-53.
Senior Shabazz Napier led all scorers with 22 points in 39 minutes. With a strong tournament, Napier should have improved his NBA draft stock after picking up his second NCAA title in four years.
Originally, Napier was projected as a second-round pick, but LeBron James suggested otherwise Monday.
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
The top point guard prospects in the draft include Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Australia’s Dante Exum and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis.
Smart declared Monday. Exum has hired Kobe Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, and can be spotted occasionally at Staples Center taking in a Lakers game. Ennis announced his intentions to enter the draft a couple of weeks ago.
Where Napier ranks is difficult to say, but the 6-foot-1, 22-year-old guard was the driving force for the Huskies.
The Lakers (25-52) are slotted as the sixth pick heading into May’s NBA draft lottery. Catching the Utah Jazz (24-53) or Boston Celtics (23-54) remains a possibility, but the Lakers would be better served to lose their final five regular-season games.
Kentucky’s Julius Randle projects to be a top-five pick. In 34 minutes Monday, Randle had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Although it wasn’t his best game of the tournament, Randle helped his draft stock with strong play throughout.
His teammate, James Young, who should also go in the first round, led the Wildcats with 20 points. Center Willie Cauley-Stein, who sat out because of a sprained ankle, could be a lottery pick (top 14).
Other top draft prospects could include Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh and Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Wiggins and Vonleh have declared. McDermott is graduating.
The Lakers also have been linked to Kentucky Coach John Calipari, but General Manager Mitch Kupchak denied the rumor through a team spokesman.
If the Lakers are going to try and pull a coach to replace Mike D’Antoni, Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie would be an intriguing hire.