City Sports Report

5 Future NBA stars to watch in 2015 NCAA Tournament

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As the 2015 NCAA Tournament kicks off today with 16 games and another 16 games tomorrow, we are bound to see a lot of buzzer beaters and blowouts.  We are also going to see a lot of players who will go on to regular jobs upon the completion of their college basketball careers.  Here, we will take a look at the players we all should expect to see playing in the NBA in the near future.

  1. Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

At 6’10” and 231lbs, Sabonis runs the floor like a shooting guard or small forward, but shoots it like his 7’3” father, Arvydas Sabonis, and at 18 (he turns 19 in May), he still may be growing.  Not looked upon as a player entering the 2015 NBA Draft, the youngster 9.5 points and 6.9 rebounds on a blistering 68% from the field in a little under 22 minutes per game.  Though he is more-than-likely staying in college for an additional year of seasoning, the raw talent, size, and genetics makes him a desirable prospect.

  1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin Badgers

Kaminsky, the lone senior on this list, is a 7’0”, 234lb versatile center who can shoot the three.  With Averages of 18.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game, he has steadily improved since his freshman season and is now an intriguing draft prospect.  His assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly two-to-one, which shows that he values the ball, and at his height, his shooting ability will make him far to appealing to stay on the draft board for long.

  1. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky Wildcats

Cauley-Stein is an interesting prospect, and as a junior at Kentucky, is having his best statistical season, averaging 9.3 points and 6.4 rebounds.  Though he is averaging 1.6 blocks per game, that number was 2.9 last season in less minutes, suggesting the addition of another shot blocker has caused those numbers to dip.  He has also improved his free-throw shooting, from under 40%, to under 50%, to now 61%, suggesting that he works hard and has the ability to improve in all facets of his game.  He can come into the NBA and not only block shots, but his quickness at 7’0” and 240lbs allows him to guard multiple positions.

  1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky Wildcats

Towns and his Kentucky Wildcats are the overwhelming favorites to win the 2015 NCAA Tournament, coming into it with an unblemished record of 34-0.  At 6’11” and 250lbs, Towns is an imposing figure, and his 2.4 blocks per game in a little over 20 minutes of play is arguably his most impressive statistic.  Towns will be a difference-maker on the defensive end of the floor, but his offensive game is still raw.  His 9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 81% free-throw shooting are all impressive in his limited play, but his lack of playing time on such a talented team makes his ability a little harder to project.  His seven points in the final three minutes of a close Kentucky game against Georgia also shows he can get you buckets when it counts.

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke Blue Devils

Okafor is a 6’11”, 270lb pound post player who already has footwork better than most current NBA big men.  In my eyes, and the eyes of many, he is the gem of the draft.  Headed into the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Okafor is averaging 17.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 30 minutes of play, shooting a sizzling 67% from the field.  He does have one glaring flaw, his free-throw shooting is atrocious, as he is at 51%.  He also averaged 2.6 turnovers a game, so he needs to value the ball better.  Still, his skill and upside make him the best prospect in the NCAA Tournament.

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