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Mar 14, 2018

Ten to watch in March Madness

Grayson Allen
With the 2018 edition of March Madness expected to be one of the most wide-open NCAA Tournaments in recent memory, let's take a look at 10 players for you to keep tabs on as the Big Dance begins.
 

#9 Alabama Crimson Tide

Collin Sexton
Collin Sexton, PG (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Reggie Jackson

STATS

  • PPG
    19.0
  • APG
    3.5
  • RPG
    3.8
  • FG%
    .444
  • MPG
    29.9

VITALS

After an SEC Tournament that saw the Crimson Tide upset top-seeded Auburn in the quarterfinals, Sexton has seen his draft stock rise and will likely now compete with Oklahoma's Trae Young to see who the first freshman point guard off the board will be. Long, explosive and unafraid of contact, Sexton is one of the most dynamic attacking players in this year's Tournament. Though his jumper is improving, Sexton still struggles with an inconsistent shot at times. He wears his heart on his sleeve, which can be a detriment to his game.

#10 Texas Longhorns

Mo Bamba
Mo Bamba, C (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Nerlens Noel

STATS

  • PPG
    12.9
  • RPG
    10.4
  • BLK
    3.7
  • FG%
    .541
  • MPG
    30.2

VITALS

The first thing you'll notice about Bamba is his immensity. He has a standing reach of 9'6 and a 7'10-wingspan. Bamba can be everywhere in the paint and is a complete vaccuum on the boards. He's got very soft hands and knows how to find looks for teammates. Bamba is slight for his frame, though, something that will be more of an issue once he gets to the pro game. His offensive skills pale in comparison to what Bamba does on the other side of the ball.

#4 Arizona Wildcats

DeAndre Ayton
DeAndre Ayton, C (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Karl-Anthony Towns

STATS

  • PPG
    20.3
  • RPG
    11.5
  • BLK
    1.9
  • FG%
    .616
  • MPG
    33.4

VITALS

Ayton is a double-double machine and could very well be the first person to hear his name called by Adam Silver on draft night. Ayton possesses a level of coordination that few his size do, meaning that the awkwardness often associated with a seven-footer just isn't there. A fine shooter who also runs the pick-and-roll with ease, Ayton's game shows few weaknesses. If there's anything to work on, coach Sean Miller wants to see Ayton stop settling for poorer looks when it comes to shot selection.

#5 Kentucky Wildcats

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Andre Miller

STATS

  • PPG
    13.9
  • APG
    5.0
  • STL
    1.6
  • FG%
    .485
  • MPG
    33.3

VITALS

The most high-profile Canadian in this year's Tournament, Gilgeous-Alexander anchors the backcourt of one of the more unheralded Wildcats squads in recent memory. At 6'6, Gilgeous-Alexander is more combo guard than pure point guard, but is capable of playing at either position. While not as explosive as Sexton or Young, Gilgeous-Alexander is still a capable scorer off of the dribble and a durable attacker. Gilgeous-Alexander has a propensity for steals, but is just as apt to turning the ball over himself, something he'll need to curb as he prepares to transition to the pro game.

#10 Oklahoma Sooners

Trae Young (11)
Trae Young, PG (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Steph Curry

STATS

  • PPG
    27.4
  • APG
    8.8
  • RPG
    3.9
  • FG%
    .420
  • MPG
    35.3

VITALS

A volume scorer, Young is the most highly touted point guard prospect since Steph Curry. Young is a terrific shooter, capable of hitting from just about anywhere, and can operate off the dribble just as capably as he can catch and shoot. Young's commitment to fitness is impressive with many convinced that he will grow into his 6'2 frame. A run in the Tournament for the Sooners - which isn't exactly likely - could help propel Young into the top five in the draft come June. 

#2 Duke Blue Devils

Grayson Allen
Grayson Allen, G (Senior)

NBA COMPARABLE: Bobby Sura

STATS

  • PPG
    15.7
  • APG
    4.5
  • STL
    1.7
  • FG%
    .429
  • MPG
    35.2

VITALS

The biggest heel in the NCAA takes to the March Madness stage for one final time. Allen is a borderline first-round pick this summer and there's a lot to like about his game, but he can't seem to help himself when it comes to dirty play. Take last week's game in the ACC Tournament when Allen threw a hip check on UNC's Garrison Brooks to try and slow down a fast break. If stuff like this was few and far between, you could chalk it up to isolated incidents, but it's not and this kind of play has become Allen's MO. 

#1 Villanova Wildcats

Mikal Bridges
Mikal Bridges, G/F (Junior)

NBA COMPARABLE: Otto Porter Jr.

STATS

  • PPG
    18.0
  • APG
    2.1
  • RPG
    5.4
  • FG%
    .521
  • MPG
    32.6

VITALS

A redshirt freshman when the Wildcats won it all in 2016, Bridges has evolved into one of the best shooters in the Big East. Shooting at .433 from beyond the arc, Bridges' jump shot is a thing of beauty with a terrific release. His length allows him to guard multiple positions and cover a lot of ground, making Bridges one of the best two-way players available this June. In order to make that jump to the NBA, though, Bridges is going to have to put on some mass and maybe get his hands a little more dirty when it comes to physicality.

#8 Missouri Tigers

Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr., F (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Kevin Durant

STATS

  • PPG
    12
  • APG
    1
  • RPG
    10
  • FG%
    .294
  • MPG
    25

VITALS

First, a note - the above stats are not Porter's season average. They are from Mizzou's second-round loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament, the only full game in which Porter appeared. The much-hyped freshman picked up a back injury two minutes into the Tigers' first game of the season and was sidelined for the remainder of it. In his return against the Bulldogs, Porter wasn't at all sharp and struggled with his shot. But Porter is an X-factor in what appears to be a wide-open West region. A win against FSU in their opener for the Tigers could set up a date with #1 Xavier and a healthy Porter could be enough to spring an upset of the Muskateers.

#3 Michigan State Spartans

Miles Bridges and Collin Hartman No. 30
Miles Bridges, F/G (Sophomore)

NBA COMPARABLE: Jae Crowder

STATS

  • PPG
    16.9
  • APG
    2.8
  • RPG
    6.9
  • FG%
    .463
  • MPG
    31.2

VITALS

Capable of highlight-reel dunks and sheer explosiveness, Bridges will be fun to watch because he's apt to whip up something spectactular out of nowhere. A terrific defender at the wing with above-average passing vision, Bridges will need to hone his shot to take the next step to the pro game. The knock against Bridges is, of course, his size. He's probably too undersized to play the post and his wingspan of 6'9 might cast aspersions upon how he'll translate to the NBA.

#2 Duke Blue Devils

Marvin Bagley
Marvin Bagley III, C (Freshman)

NBA COMPARABLE: Chris Bosh

STATS

  • PPG
    21.1
  • RPG
    11.5
  • APG
    1.6
  • FG%
    .605
  • MPG
    33.4

VITALS

Arguably the most NBA-ready player in this edition of March Madness, Bagley brings a wealth of talent to the table. With impressive control of his nearly seven-foot frame, Bagley is quick, has good hands and a deft touch in the paint. When hauling down boards, Bagley can be relied upon for a smart pass to get the breakout started. While there are few holes in his game, that doesn't mean that there aren't things for him to work on improving, starting with better decision-making, especially down low.

Canadians to watch in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
 

CANADIANS IN MARCH MADNESS

POS/YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL HOMETOWN
G/Fr. Emmanuel Akot  Arizona  Winnipeg 
F/Jr.  Kyle Alexander  Tennessee  Scarborough, Ont. 
G/Fr.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker  Virginia Tech   Toronto
F/Fr.  Oshae Brissett  Syracuse  Mississauga, Ont. 
G/Fr. Christian David  Buffalo  Milton, Ont. 
F/Fr.   Isaiah Jasey Texas A&M  Ottawa 
G/Fr. Dominic Johnson Buffalo Windsor, Ont.
F/Fr. Mfiondu Kabengele  Florida State  Burlington, Ont. 
G/Jr. Nelson Kaputo  St. Bonaventure  Toronto 
G/Jr.  Kimbal Mackenzie   Bucknell Oakville, Ont. 
F/Jr.  Jelani Mofford   UNC-Greensboro Mississauga, Ont. 
F/So.  Nolan Narain  San Diego State  Hamilton, Ont. 
F/Fr.  Gabe Osabuohien  Arkansas  Toronto 
G/Sr.  Kassius Robertson  Mizzou  Toronto 
F/So.  Jackson Rowe Cal State-Fullerton  Toronto 
F/So.  Aher Uguak  Loyola-Chicago Edmonton 
F/So. Kalif Young   Providence  Vaughan, Ont.