UNC-Duke for the title? The magic of Royce White? You got it. It's Saturday, so let's do some scouting for potential future Raptors...
7:00 PM - Baylor @ Iowa State:
Ok people, what do you call a big man that can score on the block, has a good mid range game, can handle the rock, get to the rack, defend and lead your team in scoring, rebound, assists, steals and blocks? If you're an Iowa State fan, you would simply call him Royce White.
Yes you read that right. White does lead his team in all those categories and sure enough, looks like a legit NBA player. He's a rare physical specimen at 6'8", 270 lbs AND he's athletic. He's been flirting with triple-doubles all season and to show you how versatile his is, here is a spattering of his top numbers this season: 25 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks. Did I mention that he's had seven or more dimes in 10 games this season? Yikes.
He's very good at everything and if he had a weakness it's that his offense is not as good as some others at his position. But you'll be able to forgive that because he brings so much to the table. He's listed as a sophomore but he's a little older having sat out a year at Minnesota and then a year transferring to Iowa State so he's physically mature. The only question will be if he's getting there mentally. He's got a Mike Beasley type game, minus the three range and head issues and while he might not be quite as athletic, he is an interesting prospect for sure. In fact, he should make an All American team in a few weeks, and he'd be a very interesting fit with the Toronto Raptors. The team simply doesn't have someone with his all-around game.
Note: I previewed a Baylor game previously but I didn't mention Quincy Acy. He is a big bodied rebounder type who defends. He's a glue guy and could get a look as a free agent invite or even a late second-round pick because of his shot-blocking abilities.
Side Note: Canadians represent well in this game. Iowa State has a very good wing in Melvin Ejim while Baylor has gunner Brady Heslip. Ejim is a freak of an athlete in a Nick Young/Rudy Gay mold. He's a great defender and his shooting game is improving to compliment his slashing prowess. He's a big time finisher at the rim too. Heslip is the opposite; solid guard who has international area code range. Both are worth keeping an eye on.
7:00 PM - North Carolina @ Duke
This week we've got two 7:00 PM games for you to choose from and since I was obviously choosing this baby, Ray grabbed the above piece.
And here we go, maybe the most anticipated game of the year. Anticipated because yes, it's the Duke - UNC rivalry that's one of the best amongst sports, but that's not all. Tied at the top of the ACC, the winner of this one takes the regular season conference title.
And you want prospects? This game's loaded. UNC alone could have three lottery picks next year and while Duke doesn't have the same blue chip talent, they've got a number of guys likely to be first round picks in the next two years as well. We could write forever then on this one but I'm going to focus mainly on one Carolina kid today, as I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to discuss both teams in the coming weeks.
Barnes is a bit of an enigma for me. He's got all the physical tools that scream NBA stud. He's got a sweet stroke that paired with said physical traits, makes him a deadly scorer. So at face value, it's hard to think he wouldn't be a huge success in the NBA.
But he just doesn't captivate me whenever I watch UNC. Sure, there are times when he's unstoppable, but he doesn't dominate on a regular basis the way I expect someone with his skill set to do, and I worry about that considering he's likely a top three pick next year. Part of this I think is because he's a bit one-dimensional, a scorer yes, but you're not likely to see him change a game with a key block or rebound.
So it's in games like this today, and going forward in the ACC tournament and then March Madness, that we may really get a good glimpse of how good Barnes can be and while I'd prefer he stay invisible today, a coming out party that began tonight wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Note: On the Duke side, keep an eye on Austin Rivers. The son of "Doc" Rivers has really come on of late after a so-so start to the season. He had the game-winning 3 last time these teams met and is a fierce competitor for the Blue Devils. (In fact, I'd love to put Rivers' mindset inside Barnes' head.) He's got a great handle, is nearly impossible to guard off the bounce, but struggles finishing at the rim at times, and is a bit stuck between the 1 and 2 spots. He needs another year of college seasoning but if he keeps putting up dominant performances, he may jump into the draft.
-Louisville Tech at Syracuse - 4:00 PM
-Texas at Kansas - 9:00 PM
-Georgetown at Marquette - 2:00 PM
-PITT at UCONN - 12:00 PM