It's the final day before Conference tourneys for a number of teams, and as a result, some good matches for Raptors' fans to take a close look at...
12:00 PM - Kentucky @ Florida:
We've talked Anthony Davis, we've talked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and while those two and the other phenoms on Kentucky bear watching, I'm thinking we switch focus to Florida for this one, particularly, freshman Bradley Beal.
Prior to his season with the Gators, Beal drew comparisons from Ray Allen to Eric Gordon thanks to his combination of athleticism and shooting ability. At 6-5 he's maybe a bit on the small side for the 2 spot in the L, but he makes up for it via said athletic ability, and some great upper body strength, hence the Gordon comparisons. He's one of the purest shooting prospects we've seen in a while, with unlimited range and great form on his J, but that unfortunately hasn't translated the way many expected this year.
He's averaging a respectable 15 points a game, and his 6.5 rebounds per match stand out from that position (a big plus looking at the next level) but he's shooting only 32 per cent from downtown, and 44 per cent overall, not the numbers many expected.
As well, the Gators have been up and down in terms of play, so a win today over KY right before conference tournaments would be huge. One of the best ways to evaluate these players is to see them up against top competition, and his match-up at noon against future NBAers like Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and MKG, should give us a pretty good first glance of how he could fare at the next level.
Note: Another interesting "future NBAers" match-up is down low, with Anthony Davis or Terrence Jones facing up against Florida monster big man Patrick Young. Young looks like a top 5 pick due to his DeAndre Jordan type physique. Unfortunately he's played much more like Chris Taft this year, so again, his match-up against Davis and co. should help give us an idea of how he could look going up against the big boys of the NBA.
1:00 PM - Illinois @ Wisconsin
Everyone seems to have a notion of the "classic" point guard and that definition seems to be fluid. Well, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor is every bit the classic point guard and he looks like a legit next level guy. Bo Ryan has been churning out very good teams consistently out of Madison for the last decade and Taylor is one of his quality players. He plays defense well and though not a lightning quick type guy, like a Pierre Jackson, he's smart and plays position very well.
What he can do though is score and he does so in a variety of ways. He's a legit triple threat guy on offense: he can shoot, he can take it to the hole and he can hit his free throws. Though he could shoot the ball better overall (only a .403 FG%), he does shoot the three at a decent .345 averaging over 1.5 makes, and he's making .772 of his free throws averaging 5 attempts per. His overall scoring is down from last season, 14.6 from 18.1, and has had a disappointing senior campaign in the eyes of some, but now his chance to turn it on late, and make some first round noise. He's able to score either by play or by creating which may be the key for him to get to the next level.
Note: Keep an eye on Taylor's teammates Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren. Both are juniors and could become big time players for Wisconsin for next season. Evans is an active tweener who leads the team in rebounding while Berggren is a 6'10 big.
Side Note: After romping through the first half of the season, Illinois has been in what seems like tank mode for the rest of it winning only five of their fourteen games since Jan 4. Regardless, watch for Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard. Paul is a junior guard who can shoot. Leonard is an emerging sophomore big man who can play like an All American one game, and scrub the next. Despite his inconsistent play, he's a legit 7-footer who looks like he could be very good next season...assuming he doesn't decide to buy into the hype and enter the draft.
-Ohio State at Michigan State - 4:00 PM
-Michigan at Penn State - 1:00 PM
-Purdue at Indiana - 6:00 PM
-Clemson at Florida State - 12:00 PM