NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Andre Drummond #12 of the Connecticut Huskies dunks the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The South Region of the NCAA Tournament is stacked with NBA prospects, none more tantalizing than Kentucky's Anthony Davis and UConn's Andre Drummond, who could meet in the second round. We break down the top 10 prospects in the South.
When it comes to future NBA prospects, the South Region stands far above the rest of the field. Kentucky, Connecticut and Baylor alone have at least seven lottery picks between them, while there are over 15 future first-rounders sprinkled throughout this regional.
However, that's all a sideshow for what could be the most anticipated individual match-up in the last decade of the NCAA Tournament: a potential second-round game between Kentucky's Anthony Davis and UConn's Andre Drummond.
Davis, a 6'11, 220-pound fly-swatter with a 7'4 wingspan, has a chance to be the Defensive Player of the Year, the National Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Drummond, a 6'11, 270-pound center with dunk contest athleticism, is the only player in the country who could knock Davis off his perch.
He's flown under the national radar as the Huskies have dealt with NCAA investigations, Jim Calhoun's medical absence and internal dissension. But while Davis deserves every bit of the publicity he's gotten this season, Drummond actually has more raw talent. He has all of Davis' physical gifts and offensive skills while being at least 50 pounds heavier.
Ten years from now, Drummond could be the Ryan Leaf to Davis' Peyton Manning or the two could be the starting frontcourt on the All-NBA first team. Either way, if Connecticut can get past a dangerous Iowa State team with an intriguing prospect (Royce White) of its own in the first round, UConn vs. Kentucky is going to be the start of something big.
Here's a look at the 10 best NBA prospects that the South Regional has to offer.
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Who he is: The consensus No. 1 prospect in the country, Davis has dominated in his freshman season, averaging 14.9 points, 10 rebounds and 4.7 blocks on 63 percent shooting. A 6'3 high school junior who grew eight inches in one summer, he's the evolutionary answer to super-sized jump-shooters like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki.
What he is playing for: The No. 1 selection is his to lose, and he'll get plenty of chances to defend it in the South Regional. He could face the only two players in the country who can match his combination of height, athleticism and skill set: Drummond and Baylor's Perry Jones III.
Davis and the Wildcats were featured in the "NBA Draft Toolbox" earlier in the year.
2. Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Who he is: The likely No. 2 selection in the draft, Drummond has displayed unfathomable physical gifts, if not always consistent effort, in his first year in UConn. While he's rarely featured in the Huskies offense, he still averages 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on 54 percent shooting.
What he is playing for: His combination of size and physical ability is going to be too much for NBA GMs to pass up, but he's not even close to fulfilling his potential. Even if he doesn't get the ball enough, he should still be able to dominate games defensively and on the offensive glass. Getting the upper hand in a possible match-up with Davis could change the perception of his game.
Drummond and the Huskies were featured in the "NBA Draft Toolbox" earlier in the year.
3. Perry Jones III, Baylor
Who he is: An athletic 6'11, 235-pound forward as physically gifted as Davis and Drummond, but who's been plagued by concerns about his toughness and overall passivity. When Baylor's guards are getting him the ball, he can dominate games like he did against an athletic Kansas State frontline in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, scoring 31 points on 11-14 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds.
What he is playing for: If he can get Baylor past a dangerous draw and into the Elite 8, he could play himself into the No. 3 spot in the draft.
Jones and the Bears were featured in the "NBA Draft Toolbox" earlier in the year.
4. Quincy Miller, Baylor
Who he is: An athletic 6'9, 200-pound freshman with great ball-handling ability, an excellent perimeter jumper and a 7'4 wingspan, Miller is as talented a perimeter player as there is in the country. However, because he's the third option in a loaded Baylor frontcourt that features four NBA prospects, and he only sporadically gets the ball from their guards, he averages only 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds on 45.7 percent shooting.
What he is playing for: He's a lottery pick whenever he comes out, but a strong showing in the Tournament could have him in line for a top three selection in 2013.
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Who he is: One of the most well-rounded players in the country, Kidd-Gilchrist is a skilled and athletic 6'7, 230-pound forward with a 6'10 wingspan who can play elite defense at the 1-4 positions at the college level. The only thing holding him back from truly elite status is a shaky outside jumper (26.7 percent from the three-point line).
What he is playing for: Potential match-ups with Jeremy Lamb (UConn) or either Miller or Austin Rivers (Duke) would give Kidd-Gilchrist a chance to show his defensive chops against elite competition. While he's said he wants to return to school, a potential selection in the top five could be too much to pass up.
6. Cody Zeller, Indiana
Who he is: The younger brother of UNC's Tyler Zeller, Cody has helped bring the Indiana program back to national prominence in his freshman season. At 6'11 and 230 pounds, he's averaging 15.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game while showing an impressive set of skills on both sides of the ball.
What he is playing for: Zeller will be tested by an experienced Wichita State frontline in the second round, and if he can carry Indiana into the Sweet 16, he could play himself into the back end of the lottery in 2012 or the top end in 2013.
Zeller and the Hoosiers were featured in the "NBA Draft Toolbox" earlier in the year.
7. Jeremy Lamb, UConn
Who he is: A 6'5, 200-pound shooting guard with an absurd 7'1 wingspan, he was UConn's second option in their improbable 2011 championship. While the Huskies have underperformed this season, Lamb has still averaged 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 47.5 percent shooting this year.
What he is playing for: Lamb has the talent to score 25 against Kentucky, and if he can carry UConn to the upset, he'll put himself into early lottery discussion.
8. Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Who he is: A skilled and athletic 6'9, 240-pound combo forward, Jones has seen his effort level questioned and his production go down playing next to Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist. While he only averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, he's still versatile enough to average more than one block, one steal and one assist a game.
What he is playing for: He's been overshadowed by Kentucky's incredible group of freshmen, but he's the real key to their season. If Jones is on his game, the Wildcats will be nearly unbeatable in March, and he could solidify himself as a high pick in the 2012 draft.
9. Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Who he is: A 6'4, 200-pound pure shooter with the ball-handling and passing ability to run point, Lamb is Kentucky's best individual scorer and the player who will have the ball in his hands at the end of close games. He averages 13.3 point games, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 47 percent shooting.
What he is playing for: If Kentucky makes the Final Four, Lamb will likely play his way into the first round of the draft.
10. Austin Rivers, Duke
Who he is: The son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, the 6'4, 200-pound combo guard quickly became the featured scorer on a Duke team that lost three players -- Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler -- to the NBA last season. He's struggled with shot selection at times, but he's knocked down a number of huge last-minute shots for Duke this season.
What he is playing for: With the high name recognition that comes for playing under Coach K, Rivers could parlay a Duke run to the Elite 8 into the middle of the first round in 2012.
Rivers and the Blue Devils were featured in the "NBA Draft Toolbox" earlier in the year.
Under The Radar
PF Royce White, Iowa State
A 6'8, 270-pound power forward who leads Iowa State in points (13.1), rebounds (9.2), assists (5.2), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9), White is one of the NCAA's most unique players. He has a lot of Boris Diaw in his game, and if he's commanding double teams offensively and dishing out to the Cyclones' outside shooters, Iowa State can beat anyone.
Check back later in the week for our breakdowns of the other three regionals.