With March Madness just around the corner, the HQ gives a double dose of scouting over the next few weekends...
2:00 PM - Pitt @ Louisville
In what has been an up and down season for Pitt, the one constant has been senior guard Ashton Gibbs. This guy is sure to be wearing an NBA uniform in the near future because he's a winner and has the skills to play on any team in need of a backcourt player that can swing between PG and SG. Granted he's more of the latter than the former, he can still manage the ball handling if need be. If you take a look at his percentages, they may be a little eye opening for the wrong reasons (.388 FG% and .342 3PT FG% are not spectacular compared to last season's .468 FG% and .490 3PT FG%) but I would chalk a good part of that to the fact that he is Pitt's primary scoring threat and playmaker. He can bury the open jumper out to the three-point line, and he isn't afraid of contact in the paint. He also defends well in a team setting. He may not be the quickest but as a four-year senior he's definitely smart and experienced and will keep his man in front of him, making him work for a shot. With Louisville also playing small ball of sorts with the many injuries they've endured this year this could be a game suited to Gibbs skill set and a worthy look in for him.
Note: Khem Birch would have been a perfect player to check out for Pitt but he transferred out. Oh well.
Side Note: I don't know that to tell you about Louisville. Sophomore Gorgui Dieng is intriguing at 6'11", 235 lbs as a defense first big. Leading scorer Kyle Kuric is worth a look too, and Franchise is a fan of Peyton Siva. Whatever that means.
4:00 PM - Wisconsin @ Ohio State
This one could end with a combine score of 70 as the Badgers love to slow the pace, keeping turnovers to a minimum, while Ohio State pounds the ball inside to stud power forward Jared Sullinger. Sullinger in fact is the player to watch in this one as he's almost assured to be a lottery pick, probably a top five one in fact. He's not the most athletic big around, but there's not a player in college that possesses his combination of footwork, strength, and soft touch down low. He might not be the next Elton Brand, but it's hard not to see him at least being a Paul Millsap type at the next level.
On the Wisconsin side, I'm still waiting for Jordan Taylor to bust out. He was expected to be the top point guard in the draft but he's completely fallen off the radar, struggling with his shot in his final season with the Badgers (shooting under 40 per cent from the field.) The trouble is, it's unlikely this match will represent much of a coming out party as he's facing perhaps the best on-the-ball defender in the Big Ten, Aaron Craft.
Note: William Buford will likely get some looks from NBA teams in the second round. He's a good scorer who can defend, and while not elite in any one area, plays an athletic, hard-nosed brand of ball that an NBA team may find useful off their bench.
Other key matches today for prospect watching:
-Indiana at Minnesota
-Cincinnati at South Florida