One of several factors that makes the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament so special is the stage it sets for future NBA stars to showcase and introduce themselves to the nation.
Within the 68-team field, several potential NBA Draft lottery and first-round picks will have the opportunity to showcase their talents as they try to will their respective teams to Final Four glory. Let’s look at the top 10 NBA Draft prospects that will be taking the court in Indy.
1. Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham has been the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft all season long and backed it up with a strong freshman campaign for the Cowboys where he averaged 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Leading Oklahoma State to the Big XII Tournament title game, the phenom from Arlington, TX, was named Big XII Player of the Year as well as being named a First-Team AP All-American.
He and the fourth-seeded Cowboys will face Liberty on Friday at 6:25 p.m. ET on TBS.
2. Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
Another phenomenal freshman projected high in this summer’s draft is Jalen Suggs, who was a main cog in Gonzaga’s perfect 26-0 run through the regular season and WCC Tournament. He averaged 14.3 points a game on 57.3 effective field goal percentage this season to go along with 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per contest. For his efforts, he was one of three Bulldog players named to earn AP All-American status as a second-teamer.
Suggs and the top-seeded Zags will get their tournament run started on Saturday at 9:25 p.m. ET when facing the winner of Norfolk State and Appalachian State on TBS.
3. Evan Mobley, F, USC
Winning Pac-12 Player of the Year and earning Second-Team AP All-American honors, the 7’0” big man out of Southern Cal led the Trojans to a 22-7 campaign this season and drawn pro comparisons to LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh. Mobley nearly averaged a double-double on the year, coming away with 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds a game along with three blocks a contest.
4. Scottie Barnes, G, Florida State
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton has developed a handful of NBA Draft lottery picks in recent years and freshman guard Scottie Barnes is projected to be the latest one. The 6’9” product out of West Palm Beach averaged 11 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists off the bench for the Seminoles, earning himself both ACC Sixth Man of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
Barnes and the fourth-seeded Noles will open on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. ET when facing UNC-Greensboro on TruTv.
5. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas
The three-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks enter the NCAA Tournament as a sleeper Final Four contender and a large part has to do with freshman guard Moses Moody. The Little Rock native put up an average of 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds through 28 games this season on his way to being named SEC Rookie of the Year.
Moody and the Hogs will get things rolling on Friday at 12:45 p.m. ET when battling Colgate on TruTv.
6. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee
The 6’5” guard out of Shelbyville, Tennessee, carved out a respectable freshman campaign for himself with the home-state Volunteers, averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in just 25.1 minutes per game throughout the 2020-21 regular season.
Fifth-seeded Tennessee will take on Oregon State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
7. Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
The second Zags player and first senior on this list is Corey Kispert, who continually improved with each passing season during his long career in Spokane to be considered a potential lottery pick. Kispert put up a career-best 19.2 points on 65.6 effective shooting percentage to go along with 4.9 rebounds a game. For his troubles, he was named WCC Player of the Year and a First-Team AP All-American.
8. Franz Wagner, G, Michigan
A sophomore for the Wolverines, the German import helped Michigan earn a one-seed in the tournament by putting up 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game throughout the 2020-21 campaign. Franz is the brother of Washington Wizards PF/C Moritz Wagner, who also played at Michigan.
9. James Bouknight, G, UConn
Bouknight upped his production as a sophomore for the Huskies this season, putting up 19 points and 5.7 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game as UConn marched through their first season back in the Big East. The Brooklyn product returned to the Huskies after missing a few weeks with an elbow injury.
No. 7 UConn will be in action on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET when facing No. 10 Maryland on CBS.
10. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
Another Vol to make the list is the 6’5” forward Springer, who provided 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game for Tennessee throughout the 2020-21 regular season. Scouts have compared the Charlotte native and IMG Academy product’s game to Marcus Smart so he’ll have an opportunity to further demonstrate his abilities when the Vols battle Oregon State on Friday.