3 NBA prospects to watch on Saturday as March Madness rolls on

March Madness is upon us NBA fans, and whether you despise or absolutely love college basketball, it certainly benefits you as an avid basketball fan to watch these young hoopers duke it out on the hardwood. The tournament has yielded us with amazing finishes, star-studded performances, and gut-wrenching losses thus far, and who knows what’s in store for us farther down the road? NBA prospects like Zion Williamson and RJ Barret have already taken the court in the first few games of March Madness, so which NBA prospects can you watch during Saturday’s round of games? Stay tuned to find out!

 

1) Ja Morant, Murray State

 

After witnessing Ja Morant become just the fourth person all-time to drop a triple-double during the NCAA’s March Madness tournament, the projected lottery is being considered must-see TV. The second-year guard out of Dalzell, SC is averaging 24.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game while shooting 50.4% from the field. Interested in learning more about Ja and his game? Take a look at our Ja Morant draft profile right here on The Hardwood Tribune! Morant and the Murray State Racers basketball team will face FSU at 6:10 PM on TNT. You can also stream the game live on NCAA.com.

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2) Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Hachimura and his Gonzaga Bulldogs started out the tournament hot with a dominating victory versus the Fairleigh Dickinson men’s basketball team, and there’s no doubt that they will look to replicate Thursday’s performance today against 9th seeded Baylor. Hachimura, who is projected to be a lottery pick, dropped 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist against the Knights during Thursday night’s Round of 64 matchup. Look for Rui to try to replicate his first-round success in tonight’s matchup as Gonzaga attempts to keep their championship dreams alive. Gonzaga will face Baylor tonight at 7:10 PM in Vivant Smart Home Arena located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The game will be aired on TBS and can be streamed live on Hulu.

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3) Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

Keldon Johnson, who is being viewed as a possible lottery pick, had a great start to the tournament as he scored 25 points and grabbed 6 boards during Kentucky’s 44-79 victory versus Abilene Christian in their Round of 64 matchup on Thursday. While his season has been a bit inconsistent, he has scored 20-plus points six-times and shot just about 39% from behind the arc. Keldon may be primed and ready for a big game as the Wildcats will have their hands full with a tough Wofford team in their Round of 32 matchup. The Kentucky Wildcats and the Wofford Terriers will face off today at 2:40 PM in Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The game will be aired on CBS and can be streamed live on Hulu.

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2019 NBA Draft Profile: Ja Morant

After locking himself into the record books by becoming only the fourth person all-time to drop a triple-double in the NCAA March Madness tournament, Ja Morant has raised eyebrows around the basketball world. Morant’s incredible stat line featured him dropping 17 points, grabbing 11 boards, and dishing 16 assists on the way to leading his team, Murray State, to an electrifying 83-64 victory versus Marquette on prime-time television. Seemingly overnight, Morant has become must-see TV and has left the basketball world begging for more from the young star guard. With Morant being projected to be a top-3 pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, we will be breaking down Morant’s game as well as comparing him to current NBA players.

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Basic Information:

Height: 6’3

Weight: 175 lbs.

Hometown: Dalzell, South Carolina

Position: Guard

College: Murray State University

2018-2019 Season Stats:  24.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 10.2 assists, and 1.8 steals

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Strengths:

For the first strength of Morant’s game, we have his length. Morant has a lengthy reach which allows him to expand his game on both ends of the floor. On the defensive side of the ball, the sophomore’s length allows him to poke away simple passes as well as cut off his opponent’s passing lanes. This great play on the defensive side of the ball allows him to be able to turn the tables on any given opponent and push the ball down the floor in transition. His explosiveness and incredible finishing ability allows him to blow-by just about any defender he faces and this skill makes it incredibly hard for opposing teams to keep him out of the lane. The next skill we will break down is Morant’s shooting. Morant has a nice touch on his shot, especially from inside the arc. His shooting game primarily runs through the mid-range, but at times, Morant has shown that he can step out on the perimeter and make shots. His skillset, as far as shooting goes, should translate well into the NBA. While his mid-range shooting is a strong suit for him, his passing ability might be even better. To show the NBA world just how good Morant can pass the ball, lets take a look at a description of his passing ability first written on http://www.nbadraftroom.com.

He sees a lot of defenders and does a good job of creating for his teammates, averaging about 10 assists per game. He shows pure point guard instincts, despite his knack for scoring the ball, and he seems to relish drawing the defense to him and finding the open man.

Morant has shown time and time again that he can find a perfect passing angle and execute the right pass just in time for one of his teammates to cut to the basket or step out and hit a deep three-pointer from behind the arc.

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Weaknesses:

Morant doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game, but one thing particularly stands out to me as a potential problem. The potential problem could lie in his three-point shooting. We discussed earlier about how most of Morant’s successful shooting occurs within the arc, but many analysts would like to see him branch out and expand his shooting game outside the arc. Currently, Morant is shooting about 32% from behind the arc, which isn’t an incredible number. Hopefully Morant can improve his three-point shooting ability and become a prolific scorer from behind the arc before he takes the court as an NBA player.

NBA Comparison: De’Aaron Fox

  •  Both possess an incredible passing ability which sets them apart from other guards
  •  Both have an explosive ability to attack the basket and push the ball in transition
  •  Both control the pace of the game and can turn into floor generals within moments of receiving the ball

Tye Hooker’s Draft Projection: #2 Overall

 

 

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