March Madness Prospect Watch

Streeter Lecka

It's March Madness and this year features no shortage of prospects. With a few days off for the Clippers, this is a good time to get a look at who'll be playing over the next few weeks in the NCAA Tournament. And, maybe, potential future Clippers.

Every year as March Madness rolls around, I like to take a look at some of the prospects playing in the tournament that the Los Angeles Clippers might have a chance at drafting. I'm obviously not going to be taking a look and going in-depth about any of the top notch prospects -- i.e. Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, etc. -- that'll be taken way earlier than the Clippers will draft. It'd be pointless and we already know a lot about those guys anyways. I'm going to mention five guys to look out for and then, also, a few honorable mentions. So, let's do this.

Zach LaVine, CG, UCLA
Well, LaVine is an interesting case study since nearly every draft analyst has a different opinion on him and a different slot for him. Some have him in the Top 15 range, some have him higher, some have him way lower, and even some have him outside the Top 30. So, he's being put on this list because no one knows where he's going and no one knows who'll be really interested in him in the draft. That is, of course, if he comes out, which he might not.

Zach LaVine is a 6'5" combo guard -- hence the CG tag -- who weighs about 180 pounds and has a 6'6" wingspan. Where he shines is his elite level athleticism and ability to shoot the ball (40.5% on all jumpers). He can also be a willing facilitator and orchestrator of the offense when given that responsibility. He isn't physical and does struggle finishing around the rim at times (only 41.9% on non-transition attempts), so that's something he'll have to work on as he gets older. Defensively, he isn't great but he isn't terrible. Just needs more time on the floor to "get it" on that end.

LaVine could go as high as the Top 10, based on pure talent alone, but will likely settle himself into the 16-25 range, depending on whether or not he does actually come out. That's still up in the air at this point and him going back to UCLA for another year, this one without Kyle Anderson stealing the show, could benefit him. If he's there when the Clippers are up, they should take him in a heartbeat. Upside is through the roof.

Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas
Kinda like Zach LaVine a little bit in that his draft stock is seemingly all over the place. Most have him in the 20-35 area but I have told people that when workouts come along, don't be shocked if a team nabs Wayne Selden in the Top 15 or Top 20. He has that kinda talent and he's been hampered some being on a Kansas team that's stacked with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Perry Ellis. Also, not to mention, Naadir Tharpe running the show and taking his own shots.

Selden is a 6'6" and 230 pound shooting guard who also features a 6'10" wingspan. He's a little bit of a bully in that he likes to use his physicality to get into the paint and get to the rim. He's shooting 71.8% around the rim on non-transition attempts so you can see he can do the job down low amid a myriad of bodies. He also shoots reasonably well for a guy who came into college without a truly reliable jumper (38.5% on non-transition jumpers). Selden is also a solid defender and keeps guys in front of him due to his bulk, strength, and wingspan. Not a great defender but a good one.

As far as where he goes, Wayne Selden could go anywhere from 20-30. Depending on who else is available at the time for the Clippers, it might be a no-brainer pick if Selden's still there and the Clippers think they can play him at small forward or even use him off the bench in combination with Jamal Crawford and Reggie Bullock. He definitely has the potential to play either the two or three at the next level. Personally, I have him 23rd on my big board so he could be right there for the Clippers if he comes out.

Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
It's hard to look great in the Bo Ryan system simply because Bo Ryan loves grinding games down into the abyss as teams (and fans) fall asleep. But that's why I love Bo Ryan. He gets the most out of guys and you know that a guy from his system is going to be three things: tough, smart, and instinctive. That's exactly what Sam Dekker is. Dekker isn't a great athlete, and you definitely wouldn't think he's a really good one just by looking at him, but he's almost to that level.

Sam Dekker is a 6'8" small forward who weighs 215 pounds and has a 6'10" wingspan. He finishes well around the rim (66.0% on non-transition attempts) and has shown the ability to knock down the three ball. Granted, this season, he hasn't shot well on jumpers (31.4% on all jumpers) but last year he did hit 39.5% of all three-point attempts. So, he does have the range and the ability to be a shooter in the NBA. Combined with his athleticism, it's not hard to see where his talent is. The problem is his defense. It's bad. He shows a lack of awareness at times and can get lost. But that could also be fixed in the right system.

All in all, I can see Dekker going in the 20-30 range. I have him as a fringe first round guy (29th overall) but he could move up in workouts depending on what he shows in the one-on-one drills defensively. In a way, he almost reminds me a little bit of Chandler Parsons in that he can shoot from three, is more athletic than you'd think, and is tough as nails. That's a guy teams would like to have.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Out of all the prospects in this entire draft, I think Rondae Hollis-Jefferson might be my favorite. He's tough, physical, long, and is a truly versatile defender that eats people alive. In the Arizona system, every one of their players must be a great individual and team defender. And that's where Hollis-Jefferson makes his bones. He can guard anywhere from the 1 to 4 in college but will likely be able to guard anywhere from the 1 to 3 in the NBA since I don't think he's quite bulky enough to battle with a lot of power forwards.

Hollis-Jefferson is a 6'7" and 212 pound small forward with a staggering 7'1" wingspan. To put that into perspective, he's two inches shorter than Julius Randle but his wingspan is two inches longer. He's a monster in transition, has flashed a little bit (not much) of a mid-range game, and can get to the rim at will even in half-court sets (70.5% on non-transition attempts). But, as noted above, he's a fantastic defender. That's where his main value will be in the NBA. He has some offense but a whole lot of defense.

I really like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and have him just inside my Top 20 at 18th overall. He reminds me a little bit of a mix between Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kawhi Leonard but not as offensively potent as Leonard and not as physical and impactful everywhere as Kidd-Gilchrist. So, a slightly poor man's version, I guess. There is a ton of value there, though. I see him going in the 25-33 range, most likely, in the draft if he comes out. The Clippers, if they feel the need to go for a truly defensive minded small forward, could (and should) take a long look at him if he's still on the board.

Chris Walker and Patrick Young, FC, Florida
I'm going to take a bit of a cheat moment here and mention two guys together. They both play for Florida and they're both key pieces of their championship run in slightly different ways, which is what makes them intriguing draft prospects. Patric Young is a 6'9" and 250 pound power center with a 7'1" wingspan. I'm calling him a "power center" because he plays center for Florida and he's powerful as hell but he'll likely be a rotational big in the NBA. Chris Walker is a 6'10" and 220 pound power forward with a 7'2" wingspan. Not much of a "power" in power forward there but he's likely to bulk up over the next few years.

As for Patrick Young, he is a senior. Had he come out as a freshman, he probably would have been a lottery pick but he chose to go back and go back and go back. He's now a possible fringe first round guy but probably won't go until the second round. So that puts him in the 28-40 range. He's great on the glass (about 9 rebounds per 36 pace adjust minutes), finishes great around the rim (67.7% on non-transition attempts), and is a defensive difference maker.

Chris Walker, on the other hand, is a freshman that didn't play until February 4th of this year because of NCAA issues. It's hard to fully evaluate a guy when he's only played 13 games on the year and averaged about 6 minutes per game in them but he has a ton of potential. Walker is super athletic with a mid-range jumper and also is a great shot blocker, good rebounder, and great overall defender. His value comes with what he'll be down the line. If he comes out, he'll probably go in the 23-30 range. Reminds me a little bit of Amar'e Stoudemire when he came out but not as physically dominant.

Honorable Mention: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona -- Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA -- Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier -- Kyle Anderson, CF, UCLA -- Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan -- Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky -- Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor -- Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky -- James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina -- Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette

Special Honorable Mention: Deonte Burton, PG, Nevada -- Nevada didn't get a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament this year but I wanted to mention Burton because of how fantastic of an under-the-radar prospect he is. You don't see many 6'1" point guards with the ability to do this on a daily basis. He could go anywhere from 25-40.

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