For players floating in an NBA draft no man’s land and for some not on the draft boards at all, March Madness performances can be deal breakers.
Every year, regional or lightly ranked players push their way into the national spotlight and sometimes even into the professional ranks. Here are three players to watch during the NCAA Tournament, who are ballin’ hard and primed to captivate once they hit college basketball’s VIP section.
James Southerland, Syracuse: Legendary Cardozo High school coach Ron Naclerio knew Southerland had the ability. He just needed the touches. On a loaded team like Cuse’ it’s hard for the best players to get the rock.
“He could have gone elsewhere and played a lot more,” Naclerio explains. “But it’s a process. He’s done everything the coaches asked and never complained. Now, he’s starting to show people he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Southerland, who has serious long-range ability, made a record 19 treys in the Big East Tournament. Naclerio says he has all the top agents calling and it’s paying off for Southerland to be hitting his stride at tourney time.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State: Good thing for March Madness junkies that South Dakota State beat North Dakota State to win the Summit League and earn an NCAA berth. If they didn’t, we might have been deprived a chance to see Nate Wolters – this season’s Jimmer Fredette – ball out. The 6-4 senior from St. Cloud, Minn., has been a one-man wrecking crew and is fourth in the nation in scoring at 22.7 ppg. Dude heats it up like the month of August in Mississippi. He has this ill floating J, he’s deceptively quick and he finds his spots off the dribble using his size and creativity. In February, he gave IPFW 53 numbers and then laced Oakland with 36 a couple days later. Wolters is already on draft boards, but a bitchin NCAA tourney could elevate him into the lottery mix.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan: I have a feeling he is going to do some damage this tourney. He’ll never have a “UTEP two-step” or be part of “Run TMC” like his dad, but that doesn’t matter. Now is the time to answer all of the critics who say he still needs more seasoning before turning pro, and make these NBA scouts see him for the talented, multi-dimensional threat he is. Taking it up another notch in the tourney should do the trick.