NBA prospects to watch in Friday's Sweet 16 games

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Don't care for college hoops and want to keep track of NBA prospects? We've got a schedule for you.

SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

Some of the top prospects have been knocked out, but there are a bunch of NBA-caliber players left in the NCAA Tournament. Julius Randle, Nik Stauskas, Montrezl Harrell and Gary Harris headline Friday's Sweet 16 games.

With all due respect to Shabazz Napier and Iowa State, this is what you should watch:

No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Michigan // 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Michigan's Nik Stauskas (No. 18 on DraftExpress' top 100) was merely a blip on the NBA Draft radar in his freshman season. He was a spot-up jump shooter and nothing more. This season, he's developed into a playmaker with the ball in his hands. The sophomore guard can create offense for himself off the dribble and he makes the right decisions in pick-and-rolls. Michigan trotted through 15-seed Wofford and 7-seed Texas in the first two rounds, and Stauskas looked like a star.

But Tennessee will make things much more difficult. The Volunteers start two huge dudes up front (Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon) and long, athletic guys on the wing. Stauskas will likely be matched against Jordan McRae and Josh Robinson. McRae presents a set of problems. He's 6'5 with a 7' wingspan, and he isn't afraid to get in your face. He, and Richardson, will hound Stauskas out past the three-point line.

Tennessee's Stokes (No. 67) is another guy to keep tabs on. The junior forward has dominated Tennessee's first three tournament games. He's averaging 20.3 points and 15.0 rebounds on 56.3 percent (18-of-32) shooting from the floor and 86.2 percent (25-of-29) from the stripe. He's huge (6'9, 256) and knows how to use that size. Stokes bullies smaller opponents in positioning for rebounds, and his wingspan (7'1) makes up for a lack of elite athleticism. He's mature enough to play in the NBA right away.

Other prospects in this game: Glenn Robinson, Michigan (No. 44); Caris LeVert, Michigan

No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Louisville // 9:45 p.m., CBS

This is the most anticipated game of the Sweet 16. Lucky for us, it's also filled with a bunch of NBA prospects. Kentucky's freshman forward Julius Randle is rated the highest. When the Wildcats beat Louisville, 73-66, in late December, Randle scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, all in the first half. In the second half, he suffered cramps and logged just four minutes without taking a shot. But when he played, he dominated, and his game has matured since then. Against Wichita State, Randle recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds, but also notched six assists, picking apart the Shockers any time they sent an extra defender at him.

Louisville won't need to send extra help at Randle because sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell (No. 21) is an NBA-caliber defender. At 6'6.5 in shoes, Harrell is undersized as a traditional NBA power forward, but his length (7'3), athleticism and motor make up for that. He's chiseled (230 pounds) and great at finishing around the rim (72 percent per Hoop-Math). His poor free throw shooting (46.7 percent) and lack of an outside game limit his offensive upside, but he's a difficult one-on-one matchup for Randle.

Other prospects in this game: Russ Smith, Louisville (No. 45); Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (No. 13); Andrew Harrison, Kentucky (No. 62); Aaron Harrison, Kentucky (No. 59); Alex Poythress, Kentucky (No. 58); James Young, Kentucky (No. 26); Dakari Johnson, Kentucky

No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Virginia // 9:57 p.m., TBS

Michigan State's Gary Harris (No. 16) and Adreian Payne (No. 25) are two locks in the first round. Harris has top-10 potential and Payne is a steal if he falls to the 20s. Harris has a smooth, quick release on his jumper and is a feisty defender. He held Harvard's Laurent Rivard to seven points on 2-of-5 shooting in Michigan State's last game. Against Virginia, he'll match up with either Malcolm Brogdon or Joe Harris. The latter is a tough cover for the sophomore guard. Joe Harris (No. 84) is a big, physical guard (6'6, 225) who can shoot from behind the arc. MSU's Denzel Valentine will likely draw that assignment, but it's important to note how Gary Harris responds if he's stuck covering Virginia's senior guard.

Payne scored 41 points against Delaware in the Round of 64. He cooled off against Harvard, scoring 12 points on 10 shots. The senior forward is a knock-down shooter (43.8 percent from three) and has nice touch around the rim (67.5 percent per Hoop-Math). He plays as a center for the Spartans, but he isn't nearly strong enough to play that position in the NBA. He's long (7' wingspan) but thin (215 pounds) and gets pushed around by thicker big men. Virginia's sophomore center Mike Tobey (7' 253) will give Payne problems around the basket. That's something to watch.

Other prospects in this game: Keith Appling, Michigan State (No. 67); Branden Dawson, Michigan State (No. 69)

More from

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.