Ten Seniors Looking To Improve Their NBA Draft Stocks at the Dance

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2009

The NCAA tournament is the perfect showcase for NCAA basketball's greatest players to demonstrate not only to NBA scouts, but also to NBA GM's and the general public, their cases to be top picks in the NBA Draft. Where underclassmen get the opportunity to return if they fail to sweep scouts off their feet with their play, it is the last chance for seniors to make their case as NBA players.

That being said, here are 10 college basketball seniors (in no particular order) who can significantly improve their draft stock this March. I have included sample rankings from mock draft sites espn.com, nbadraft.net, and draftexpress.com as a benchmark to where these players may end up.


1. G Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth

Stats: 22.4 PPG 6.2 APG 3.5 RPG 1.7 SPG

ESPN Ranking: 44th - NBADraft.net: 10th - DraftExpress.com: 27th

Current Consensus: End of first round

Analysis: As a sophomore, his strong play in the NCAA tourney two years ago against Duke earned him rave reviews from scouts. He had an excellent senior year, increasing his average in points, assists, steals, field-goal shooting, and free-throw shooting, despite taking a small step back in rebounds per game and three-point percentage.

There is no doubt that he has a presence on the court, but against their only top tier competition this year in Oklahoma on Dec. 20, Maynor struggled and shot 5-19 from the field and turned the ball over eight times.

Even if VCU does not win, Maynor’s potential will probably earn him a spot at the end of the first round, but if he leads VCU to the Sweet 16, he could be a late teen-early 20 pick. Unfortunately for Maynor, the 2009 class will be loaded at point guard, but he will definitely be given the opportunity to prove that he is worthy of a top-20 pick.


2. G Jerel McNeal, Marquette

Stats: 20.1 PPG 3.9 APG 4.6 RPG 2.1 SPG

ESPN Ranking: 64th - NBADraft.net: 32nd - DraftExpress.com: 40th

Current Consensus: Middle second round

Analysis: Before senior guard Dominic James went down with a season-ending injury, McNeal was talked about as being a favorite as Big East Player of the Year. Since, Marquette has lost four in a row and McNeal’s draft stock has receded.

In his last four games, McNeal shot 29-80 from the field (36 percent) and 13-42 from beyond the arc (30 percent).This is mostly due to the fact that Marquette played ranked teams in all four games, and the adjustment needed to get used to playing with point guard Maurice Acker.

Many still consider McNeal a middle-late second round pick, but if he can lead Marquette to the Sweet 16 and improve his field-goal shooting, he can definitely improve his draft stock to an early second-round pick.


3. F Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga

Stats: 14.9 PPG 0.6 APG 6.7 RPG 0.9 BPG

ESPN Projection: 47th - NBADraft.net: 39th - DraftExpress.com: 47th

Current Consensus: Middle second round

Analysis: After having an excellent sophomore campaign with the Zags in '06-'07, averaging 15.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, Heytvelt regressed last year, averaging 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game.

He has definitely picked it back up in his senior year, averaging 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game in leading the Bulldogs to the WCC title. When most people think of Gonzaga though, they think of guard Jeremy Pargo. This March will give Heytvelt the opportunity to showcase his skills and lead Gonzaga to the Sweet 16. He has excellent size at 6’11”, and if the Zags win in the first two rounds, his stock can move up and he can have the potential to become an early second-round pick.


4. G Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga

Stats: 9.8 PPG 5.1 APG 3.5 RPG 1.4 SPG

ESPN Projection: 70th - NBADraft.net: Not Drafted - DraftExpress.com: 60th

Current Consensus: Late second round

Analysis: Pargo has been in the eyes of NBA scouts for the past three years, but regressed in his senior season, averaging only 9.8 ppg and 5.1 apg despite averaging 12.1 and 6.0 respectively last season.

His drop in points is due to lackluster shooting, where he averaged .492 the last two years; he is hitting only 46.2 percent of his shots this year. If the Zags get to the Sweet 16, both Pargo and Heytvelt’s draft stocks increase, with Pargo being a middle of the second-round pick.


5. G Dionte Christmas, Temple

Stats: 19.2 PPG 2.9 APG 6.1 RPG 1.4 SPG

ESPN Projection: 68th - NBADraft.net: 40th - DraftExpress.com: Not Drafted

Current Consensus: Late second round

Analysis: Christmas bores one of the best last names in college basketball, and if he wants to increase his draft stock, which is currently in the late second round, he will need to lead Temple into the NCAA tourney (Temple is currently on the bubble).

There is no doubt that Christmas can score, averaging 19.3 points per game over the last three years, and also pulling down roughly 5.5 rebounds per game over that span. If Temple does not make the tourney, Christmas may still be a late second-round pick, but showcasing his skills against elite teams will not hurt his case.


6. F Sam Young, Pittsburgh

Stats: 18.8 PPG 1.2 APG 6.1 RPG 1.1 SPG

ESPN Projection: 38th - NBADraft.net: 22nd - DraftExpress.com: 35th

Current Consensus: Late first, early second round

Analysis: Usually considered the third among the Pittsburgh threesome along with Blair and Fields, Young is an excellent scorer and has an NBA body at 6'6" and 215 pounds. If Pittsburgh gets as far as the Final Four and Young plays as well as he has all year, he will definitely be considered a middle of the first round pick.


7. G Lee Cummard, Brigham Young

Stats: 17.1 PPG 3.2 APG 6.3 RPG 0.9 SPG

ESPN Projection: 49th - NBADraft.net: 44th - DraftExpress.com: 38th

Current Consensus: Middle second round

Analysis: Who? Cummard is the leader of the upstart BYU team that could make some noise in this year's tourney. Cummard is not the most athletic player, but has great size and can definitely shoot the ball. If BYU makes a run and Cummard gets publicity, he could be a late first-round pick based on his ability to shoot the ball and rebound.


8. F Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Stats: 21.1 PPG 0.8 APG 8.1 RPG 0.8 SPG

ESPN Projection: 34th - NBADraft.net: 25th - DraftExpress.com: 29th

Current Consensus: Late first round

Analysis: Arguably one of the best college basketball players of all time, Hansbrough will get one more opportunity to add to his excellent resume and show NBA GM’s that he can play with the big guys.

Knocks on him are the fact that he is undersized and struggles against long, athletic defenders. He will get the opportunity to prove them wrong if UNC can get far in the tourney and play teams like UConn, or Pitt. If UNC wins it all, he can definitely be a lottery pick.

Joekim Noah made it into the top 10 a few years ago after Florida won it all, and Hansbrough can do the same as long as a GM is willing to take a chance on a winner.


9. G Darren Collison, UCLA

Stats: 14.8 PPG 5.0 APG 2.5 RPG 1.6 SPG

ESPN Projection: 26th - NBADraft.net: 24th - DraftExpress.com: 23rd

Current Consensus: Late first round

Analysis: The speedy Collison has been overshadowed by more athletic UCLA guards the last two years, Holiday this year and Westbrook last year, but has still put up excellent numbers with 14.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He has an excellent A/TO ratio at 2.2, and if he leads UCLA to the Sweet 16, he will definitely move into a mid-first round pick.


10. G Terrence Williams, Louisville

Stats: 12.8 PPG 5.1 APG 8.5 RPG 2.3 SPG

ESPN Projection: 30th - NBADraft.net: 30th - DraftExpress.com: 25th

Current Consensus: Late first round

Analysis: One of the most underrated players in college basketball, Williams is one of the best all-around players, averaging 12.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, and 8.5 rpg per game. There is no doubt that if Louisville makes it to the Final Four though, that Williams will be the focal point of the Cardinals' offense. Currently considered a late first-round pick, he could move into a lottery pick if he leads Louisville deep into the tourney.



G Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s (if they get in)

G Tyrese Rice, Boston College

G A.J Abrams, Texas

F DeMarre Carroll, Missouri

G Marcus Thornton, LSU

G A.J Price, Connecticut

G Danny Green, North Carolina

F Dante Cunningham, Villanova

G Wesley Matthews, Marquette

G Jack McClinton, Miami

F K.C. Rivers, Clemson

C Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State


    4-Star PF Prospect Isaiah Mobley Commits to USC

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    4-Star PF Prospect Isaiah Mobley Commits to USC

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    DiVincenzo, Trent Jr. Shine in Combine Scrimmage

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    DiVincenzo, Trent Jr. Shine in Combine Scrimmage

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    Players Who Hurt and Helped Their Stock at Draft Combine

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    Players Who Hurt and Helped Their Stock at Draft Combine

    Jonathan Wasserman
    via Bleacher Report

    Colleges Looking into Betting Compensation

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    Colleges Looking into Betting Compensation

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report