The Daily Gamecock

Column: Previewing the top NBA prospects from the NCAA tournament

Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns (12) celebrates after scoring and being fouled by Hampton's Quinton Chievous in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns (12) celebrates after scoring and being fouled by Hampton's Quinton Chievous in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The NCAA tournament has come and gone and aside from the upsets that drive people crazy, another interesting aspect of March Madness is watching the NBA’s future stars compete at college’s highest level. Here’s a look at sports reporter Joe Crevier's top 10 NBA prospects from the NCAA tournament.

10. Bobby Portis — Arkansas

At 6 feet 11 inches, 242 pounds, Bobby Portis is a feasible late-lottery prospect. Despite his size, Portis’ offense is predicated below the rim with the majority of his points generated from his efficient mid-range jump shot. Portis lacks a dominant post move and is not exactly the most athletic player, but he should make a seamless transition into the pros as a role player right away.

9. Trey Lyles — Kentucky

The talent of Trey Lyles was masked under the tutelage of John Calipari because of Kentucky’s flooded frontcourt. An athletic version of his counterpart Portis, Lyles’ ceiling has NBA scouts salivating. Lyles is a savvy offensive player with a solid in-and-out game, who can potentially manifest himself into quite the talented stretch four at the next level. Though he’s not an elite defender yet, his length is a huge advantage as he continues to develop into a two-way player.

8. Frank Kaminsky — Wisconsin

The NBA’s history with 7-foot-tall stretch centers is bleak. The infamous Christian Laettner found very little success in the NBA after an incredibly successful college career, as did 2006’s first overall pick Andrea Bargnani. So, scouts will be wary of Kaminsky headed into the draft, which could cause him to slip. Kaminsky did manhandle Duke’s Jahlil Okafor in this past Monday’s national championship, though, with a barrage of three-pointers and drives to the basket. Defensively, Kaminsky is an abomination, but his superior footwork will help him on the offensive end.

7. Myles Turner — Texas

Turner’s tournament was cut short with an early first-round exit, but this shouldn’t sway NBA teams away from him. Turner boasts an NBA-ready skillset with a suave shooting stroke, tremendous rebounding abilities and defensive prowess. Though Turner will likely be shifted to the power forward, if paired with the proper rim protector down low, the former Longhorn could evolve into a LaMarcus Aldridge-type player.

6. Stanley Johnson — Arizona

Johnson has justifiably drawn comparisons to a young Ron Artest, not for being a maniac, but for his incredible defensive instincts. Johnson is a bit further advanced offensively than Artest was at 18 years old, averaging nearly 14 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting this year. If he performs flawlessly in individual workouts, Johnson could nudge himself into the top five of this year’s draft.

5. Willie Cauley-Stein — Kentucky

An athletic specimen and defensive specialist, Cauley-Stein is the quintessential example of how beneficial an extended college career can be. Cauley-Stein has developed into the nation’s most fearsome defender, drawing NBA comparisons to DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. His mobility is astounding and leaping ability even more. Offense is his only major flaw, but he’s worked tirelessly on developing a face-up jumper with mild success.

4. D’Angelo Russell — Ohio State

Russell is a left-handed combo guard who poured in 19.3 points per game during his freshman season, relying heavily on his unique ability to pull up from just about anywhere on the court or breezing by his defender for an easy layup. Russell plays similarly to a young Jalen Rose, lacking explosiveness to finish over defenders, but possessing the size to get his shot off.

3. Justise Winslow — Duke

The biggest knock on Winslow upon his arrival at Duke was his outside shooting. Winslow clanked open three-pointers all season until six straight masterful performances in the NCAA tournament proved otherwise. Winslow’s dominant skill is his defense. He’s got the strength, the motivation and the effort to guard four positions in the NBA and he’s only 19 years old. Having a career like San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard’s is the best-case scenario for Winslow.

2. Jahlil Okafor — Duke

The NCAA title game was Okafor’s chance to shine and dispel all criticism surrounding his defense. But, his performances created more questions than answers and his bust potential is alarmingly high. Okafor does not protect the rim, he can’t hit free throws and Kaminsky’s mere presence was enough to shut him down offensively. Still, size cannot be taught and neither can youth. Okafor is certainly not as polished as originally anticipated, though in the proper system, he will make an impact.

1. Karl-Anthony Towns — Kentucky

Compared to Okafor, Towns is more of safe bet based on his advanced post game and ability to defend the paint. Towns possesses an NBA-ready skillset, with the agility to change ends of the floor seamlessly and protect the rim. He’s clearly the safer pick between he and Okafor, though Towns is poised to struggle until he adds some muscle. If he does bulk up a bit, Towns’ mobility and developing mid-range shot could make him the second coming of former Kentucky player DeMarcus Cousins.