We are through the first weekend of the 2023 NCAA tournament, and the field has officially been trimmed down to 16. This year’s bracket doesn’t feature too many top NBA prospects, but there are still enough guys out there to have scouts at the next level monitoring how this tournament unfolds. Here’s a look at some players who will see their stock rise after the first weekend, and some who will hope to make up for a disappointing effort.
Terquavion Smith, NC State Wolfpack
Usually a tournament loss doesn’t help out a prospect, but Smith was truly sensational against Creighton. He got to his spots routinely, and had some unfortunate bounces. Two of his triples rimmed out. Smith still managed to get 32 points in this contest and you could see the passion he was playing with. He’s also got some upside at 20 years old, and should be able to immediately get minutes in the league as a bench scorer.
Marcus Sasser, Houston Cougars
Sasser showed how important he is for the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, playing through a groin injury in a comeback win over Auburn. The point guard scored 22 points on 7-14 shooting but his lockdown defense is what will get him playing time in the NBA. He could make an immediate impact as a backup point guard for a contending team, and his leadership skills will be valued by NBA personnel.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA Bruins
Jaquez Jr. had 17 points, eight rebounds and five steals in UCLA’s first game in the tournament. He followed that up with an awesome 24-point showing on 11-19 shooting to send the Bruins back to the Sweet 16. Jaquez Jr.’s development profile isn’t as intriguing since he’ll be 22 but he can be a solid contributor to a contending team and should eventually get some buzz in the late first round.
Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona Wildcats
Everyone has off games, and Tubelis’ final stat line of 22 points, five rebounds and four steals isn’t terrible. Losing to a No. 15 seed though, especially in a game you should dominate inside, is not a good look for the Arizona big man. Tubelis struggled with his touch and routinely got cooked defensively. He’ll still have some intrigue among scouts but his stock took a hit with this game.
Kris Murray, Iowa Hawkeyes
One year after he went 1-6 from the field and 0-5 from deep in a loss to Richmond, Murray struggled once again in Iowa’s loss to Auburn. He finished with 15 points on 5-18 shooting overall and a 3-11 mark from behind the arc. If Murray cannot consistently hit the triple, his stock is going to plummet despite his physical profile. This was not a good showing for the Hawkeyes star.
Anthony Black, Arkansas Razorbacks
The Hogs pulled off the upset against No. 1 Kansas but Black had very little to do with that. He went 1-6 from the field in 37 minutes of action, battling foul trouble late and finishing the contest with four points, four rebounds and two assists. The good news for the forward is he’ll have at least one more game to bounce back from this showing.