USA TODAY Sports
It's Saturday here at the HQ so besides looking ahead to Terrence Ross' performance in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, it's another edition of "Saturday Scouting," where Ray Bala and I highlight some NCAA players and teams to keep an eye on this weekend...
Creighton @ Evansville - 3:00 PM EST
My how the mighty have fallen. Creighton was once one of the weekly Top 25 this season but of late has fallen on hard time. The Blue Jays are riding a three-game losing streak and have lost five of their last six.
But from a scouting perspective, that's irrelevant as we're here to talk about some of their individual players that could be of assistance to the Toronto Raptors down the line. We've already discussed Doug McDermott in one of our previous sessions so today we'll talk about his teammate, Gregory Echenique.
This guy is 6'10", 260 pounds and likes to eat rebounds, block shots and throw his weight around. The Raps are missing a big man with mobility, beef and the ability to cause an offensive player to second guess coming into the paint. Echenique can be this player. He's averaging 7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 22 mins right now and could fill a Nene type role for the team. He's spent his summers playing for the Venezuelan National team and has good experience. I think he could fall into the free agent pool where the Toronto could snatch him at a bargain price.
In addition, Evansville has two senior guards also worth a look in Colt Ryan and Troy Taylor. Ryan is a 6'5" scorer/passer averaging 18.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.8 apg and 1.7 spg in 31 mpg. Taylor is a 6-footer averaging a team high 7.5 rebounds and 4 dimes.
Portland @ BYU - 9 PM EST
When Toronto fans think BYU, the first image that probably comes to mind is Hoffa and his shark tattoo.
However this year, there's an interesting player there who could easily make Raps' fans forget Mr. Araujo, Brandon Davies.
Davies is a 6'9", 235 lbs. and is averaging 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks in 28 minutes. He's athletic, can run the floor and get out on the break, strong and due to a Mormon mission is likely a little more mature than 75% of the players eligible for the Draft
You may in fact remember Davies for being the teammate of former BYU star Jimmer Fredette who was suspended before the NCAA tournament for violating...um..BYU rules. He's not projected to be drafted in any round but will likely be an invite to the annual Portsmouth Invitational for college seniors at the end of the year. Davies could really make a name for himself there and could possibly play his way into the second round with a good showing, if he hasn't already shown out in the NCAA Tournament. This guy may not be a game changer but he is definitely a cheap gamble for true talent and another potential Summer League pick-up.
-With so many upsets the past few weeks, this coming NCAA tournament is going to be very interesting. If I had to pick one team to go the distance right now, I might even pick Miami in fact. The club is experienced, deep, well-coached and can play a myriad of styles.
-A few beauty matches today including Marquette hosting PITT, Oklahoma and OK State going at it, and Baylor and Kansas State, all part of rivalry week.
-Kentucky has an interesting match against Tennesse today too, interesting as at face value, this should have been a Kentucky win but we'll see how the Wildcats cope minus stud big man Nerlens Noel.
-Finally, Duke vs Maryland this evening bears keeping an eye on too. Duke, like most of the top five teams, has been fairly inconsistent of late, and face a dangerous Terps team in Maryland. Keep an eye on big man Alex Len for Maryland too, who plays a lot like current Raptor, Jonas Valanciunas.