Here are all of the NBA Draft prospects to watch in the South region of the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA Tournament’s South Region is probably the lightest in terms of big name prospects for the 2019 NBA Draft. The region is not without quality teams, but there are few players who will be in consideration for the lottery teams in June. De’Andre Hunter of Virginia and Grant Williams of Tennessee are both quality prospects in the lottery of our latest big board update, but they’re about it in terms of guys who are probably sure first-rounders. Bol Bol is too with Oregon getting the No. 12 seed, but he obviously won’t be playing.
But if you want to mine for potential second-round picks that could be diamonds in the rough, this is the region for you. Pretty much every team has a player whose name will be in the draft pool, and this will probably be the first chance you’ll get to really pay attention to them.
Below we lay out your team-by-team viewing guide for this region if you’re an NBA Draft fan, with a brief synopsis of what to watch for with each player.
No. 1 Virginia: De’Andre Hunter (11), Ty Jerome (50)
The biggest name in the region is Hunter, who has been considered a top ten prospect by some and figures to be a definite lottery pick. He’ll get some good challenges in this region, with face-offs against the ultra-strong Terence Davis on the wing and the post wizardry of Ethan Happ potentially down the line. We should get a good picture of Hunter’s versatility when we take these matchups as a whole. Jerome is also going to be key to a Virginia deep run — guard play is paramount to tournament success, and he’s one of the best defensive point guards in the class. Otherwise, we’re just looking to see if Virginia can overcome last year’s nightmare and finally push themselves to the Final Four.
No. 8 Ole Miss: Terence Davis (35)
Davis is a useful two-way wing who could be a very solid second-round steal for a team. He’s strong, is a top-five explosive athlete in the class, and has intriguing passing ability to go with a burgeoning jumper and solid finishing ability. If there’s anyone who could push their way into the first round conversation with a good showing in this region, it’s Davis, because his tools and the potential for an upset where he outplays De’Andre Hunter will do a lot for his reputation. Either way, he’s a solid long-term development option for a team looking for a two-way rotation wing.
No. 5 Wisconsin: Ethan Happ
Happ might sneak into the draft if a team wants to take a flier on a skilled elbow creator at the 4 off the bench. He’s consistently been an effective post hub for the Badgers this year, and he can hold his own at the 5 defensively thanks to technique and the ability to make good reads. However, he has zero shooting upside and minimal athleticism, so there’s not much upside beyond him being a functional ninth or 10th man. He’s probably destined for a career as a European center.
No. 12 Oregon: Louis King (45)
King probably won’t be one-and-done, as he missed most of the season with a knee injury and hasn’t looked fully recovered even when he came back. He has solid wing size, at 6-foot-9, and has shown some capability as a spot-up shooter and team defender despite Oregon’s sieve-like defense. He’s probably worth a second-round pick as an upside swing if he declares. He should get some possessions defending Happ when Oregon plays Wisconsin, and that could be an interesting test for him defensively.
No. 4 Kansas State: Dean Wade (37)
Wade, like King, has had a year marked by injury, in Wade’s case plantar fascia issues that have kept him in and out of Kansas State’s lineup. He’s healthy for the tournament though, and is one of the better pick-and-pop bigs in the class, with a good lower body frame, agility, and solid shooting motion. He looks like he’ll be able to switch at the NBA level at least between the 3, 4, and 5, and that’s important for the evaluation of him as a bench big. His performance is going to be vital in the Wildcats’ first two games, against UC Irvine’s versatile offense and a likely matchup with Happ in round two.
No. 6 Villanova: Eric Paschall
Paschall has been floated as a first-rounder by some draft sites because of his frame and athleticism as a defender. He also has shown the confidence to take 5.4 3s per game, a good sign for his shooting potential even though his percentages have been mostly mediocre. From an NBA draft perspective, it’s hard to be particularly inspired by Paschall’s profile, because he doesn’t do much at a high level compared to the more skilled fours in the class like Wade. But he’s still likely to be drafted in June, especially if Villanova rips off another big tournament run.
No. 3 Purdue: Carsen Edwards
One of the best shooters in the class, Edwards can pull up from about anywhere inside 40 feet. He’s limited otherwise, though, not quite a strong playmaker or finisher to go with his ability to launch 3s. He’s another guy who could get drafted early in the second round if a team falls in love with his best skill, or go undrafted if the chips fall a certain way. The looming second-round matchup with Villanova could be a good matchup to scout him, as he’ll draw skilled defender Phil Booth for a majority of that matchup, and Booth is very good at denying a path to the lane.
No. 7 Cincinnati: Jarron Cumberland
Cumberland has the size of an NBA 4, and some interesting playmaking ability. He’s not consistent, but if he can string a few good games together, particularly against Tennessee in the second round, he could get more looks as a legitimate draft prospect.
No. 10 Iowa: Tyler Cook, Joe Wieskamp
Put a pin in Iowa’s two prospects for the 2020 Draft, as neither has much buzz this year. But Cook is a powerful rebounder cut in the Kenneth Faried mold, and Wieskamp, a freshman, might be a branch off the J.J. Redick tree as an off-movement shooter. Iowa is building for next year in this tournament and should put these two on the map if they upset Cincinnati and give Tennessee a good battle.
No. 2 Tennessee: Grant Williams (15), Admiral Schofield (52)
Williams and Schofield are probably sure NBA Draft entrants and Williams will likely go in the middle of the first round. He has a case as the best two-way player in the class that isn’t Zion Williamson, because he’s a versatile 1-4 switch defender who can function as a creator at the elbow thanks to his court vision and finishing touch. Schofield, meanwhile, has intrigue due to how his frame could let him play some power forward at 6-foot-5, but he’s a rather raw offensive player with inconsistencies on defense. The things to watch for them in the NCAA tournament will be how they both match up with more traditional power forward archetypes in Cook and potentially Paschall, and if Williams can regain some footing as a defender after slipping late in conference play.