March 30, 2017, 10:32 pm
I was a bit selfish when it comes to writing this article. One of the main reasons I didn’t get it going until today is because my Jayhawks were knocked out during their Elite Eight game and I simply wanted to ignore March Madness the rest of the way. Then it dawned on me that I owe it to the readers to provide you with content and decided to suck it up. That being said, let’s check out which players we should be keeping an eye on in the Final Four.
South Carolina vs. Gonzaga
South Carolina is the biggest surprise in this Final Four. Head coach Frank Martin was notoriously known as the hothead coach for Kansas State during Michael Beasley’s sole season in college. Now, he is leading the way for this underdog South Carolina squad. While they don’t boast any top prospects, there are two players that readers can keep an eye on during this game. Neither projects to be drafted this summer, but there is the off chance that we may see them in the NBA some day.
P.J. Dozier is a 6’6″ sophomore shooting guard. Most mock drafts peg him as a second round pick in 2018. He has length and has shown the ability to score, but is relatively inefficient from outside and the free throw line. Sindarius Thornwell is a 6’5″ senior shooting guard and will probably go undrafted this summer, barring an explosion in the Final Four and a monster draft combine. With that in mind, I would expect him to lead South Carolina in scoring this weekend. He is an efficient scorer and plays both ways. Look for him to have a major impact on the outcome of this game either way.
Gonzaga was underrated by many as a one seed that many complained did not deserve to be here. However, they continue to prove the doubters wrong and are now looking to solidify Mark Few’s legacy as a premier NCAA head coach.
The Bulldogs feature a balanced roster that can do damage from anywhere on the court. Their leading scorer is Nigel Williams-Goss, a junior point guard that stands 6’4″ and could find himself as a second rounder in 2018 if he is able to find success during his senior campaign. He is an efficient scorer, passer and defensive player. However, Zach Collins is the player that readers will really want to watch. His stats may not jump off the screen at you, but this freshman power forward stands 7’0″ tall and is considered a late first rounder in 2017 or a lottery pick in the 2018 draft.
Oregon vs. North Carolina
This game will surely garner more media attention than the other. Both teams were considered title contenders from the start of the season and are now featured in the Final Four.
Oregon is the squad that took down my Kansas Jayhawks in dramatic fashion. Led by “Mr. March” Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell, this squad is a scary matchup for any team this late in the season. They are without senior big man Chris Boucher, but have kept advancing regardless. While all of these names are popular in college scene, none seem to be highly touted as draft prospects of the upcoming draft. All have the possibility of making a NBA roster in the future, but it seems like their outlook for NBA careers is minimal at best.
For the Tar Heels, Justin Jackson is the featured man and a player to keep an eye on in the NBA next season. He currently projects as a lottery pick and has been mentioned in the player of the year race pretty much all season. The 6’8″ small forward has the tools to make it in the NBA, but could use some extra weight on his thin frame. Since he is a junior, his draft stock could fall but a strong tournament finish and combine performance will help him out.