2017 Final Four set, Top Draft Prospects to Watch.

Justin Jackson Getty Images

PHOENIX- College basketball’s greatest weekend of the year is here with the 2017 NCAA Final Four. The field set as seven-seed South Carolina faces one-seed Gonzaga in game one, and three-seed Oregon battles one-seed North Carolina in the second game. All four teams possess a player with NBA potential. Here are the top prospects for each team and my thoughts on their projected NBA Draft slot.

South Carolina– G Sindarius Thornwell, Senior:

Thornwell is undoubtedly the best player on this magical Gamecocks team. With him in the lineup, the team is totally different. Looking at their schedule, they were undefeated until they played Seton Hall at MSG, a game in which Thornwell sat out with a suspension. Thornwell operates from the point guard position but can play anywhere from the 1-4 at the College Level. He posses good size and length at 6’5” with a 6-9 wingspan. He has the ability to put the ball on the deck and has improved his 3 point shot as well (45.5 %). He is a willing defender and crashes the boards well for a guard

PROJECTION-  2017 Mid to Late 2nd Round:

Thornwell has played his way on to draft boards in the last two months. Expect a team to take a chance on the senior who could become a solid contributor off the bench.

Gonzaga Bulldogs– C/PF Zach Collins, Freshman:

The best NBA prospect on Gonzaga‘s first-ever Final Four team will most likely be donning a bulldogs uniform again in the fall. Collins, Gonzaga’s first-ever McDonald’s All-American, is a prototypical NBA big man. With range out to the 3-point line and great athleticism, Collins fits well in most NBA offenses. Collins also is a shot blocker and a solid post defender early in his college career.

PROJECTION– 2018 Mid Lottery:

Collins has the skill set and the body size to carve out a long NBA career. If he can show next year that he can truly be the star of a team, his draft slot will surely rise.

Oregon Ducks– PF/C Jordan Bell, Junior:

Jordan Bell has not only captured the nation’s attention but NBA scouts as well. A high-level athlete with a motor that simply does not shut off, Bell has flown on to mock drafts. In the NCAA tournament alone, Bell is averaging 12.5 rebounds and 3 blocks, including 8 against Kansas in the regional final. Bell runs the court extremely well and is a plus defender in the post. The Ducks’ big man is also a viable option to catch a lob at any given time as he plays above the rim.

PROJECTION- 2017 Late First/Early Second:

Jordan Bell’s NCAA Tournament performances and elite athletic ability are a tough package to pass up. If Oregon goes on to win the NCAA Title, Bell is a first round lock. While he will never be the main part of an NBA offense, he will protect the rim and suck up boards.

North Carolina Tar Heels– F Justin Jackson, Junior

The final player on this watch list will probably go the highest out of the four players. The 2017 ACC Player of the Year has vastly improved his game, averaging 18.2 points after putting up a little more than 12 in his sophomore campaign. Jackson is extremely efficient posting shooting lines of 44/38/73. Jackson is a threat to score from all three levels of the court and is high IQ player.

PROJECTION- 2017 Lottery-Top 10:

Jackson should be an early first-round pick. A scorer will definitely provide a punch for the team that picks him whether it is off the bench or in the starting line up. If UNC takes home the title, expect Jackson’s name to be called early.


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