5 best NBA Draft prospects in the NCAA Tournament

NORMAN, OK - MARCH 2: Trae Young
NORMAN, OK - MARCH 2: Trae Young /
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Marvin Bagley III
PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 10: Marvin Bagley III /

4. Marvin Bagley III

Athleticism isn’t a question for Bagley III, who is one of the top athletes, regardless of position, that will be playing in the NCAA tournament this year.

Bagley has been playing alongside another like one-and-done NBA prospect in Wendell Carter Jr. at Duke, and the two have had an up and down season as the Blue Devils lost to teams like St. John’s, North Carolina State, and Virginia. Bagley averaged 21 and 11, a great season for any player in the college, but there are questions regarding his future in the NBA.

At 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds, Bagley has the height and size to play as a center in the modern NBA. However, he doesn’t have an above-average wingspan, and didn’t show a lot of awareness as a help defender with the Blue Devils. While he’s able to dominate college competition as a power forward, he’s going to have to prove that his 3-point shot is consistent (20-54 as of publication) in order to provide spacing for modern NBA offenses. There are players of a similar style of play that have found success in the NBA in Domantas Sabonis and Julius Randle (fellow lefties), both of whom had great success at college but struggled to find a successful role in their first seasons in the NBA.

There are also questions on the defensive end for Bagley, but ultimately, it comes back to what position he is going to play at the next level. A NBA team is either going to be a believer in his athleticism, and that he’ll be able to use his agility to get into the right spot and make things difficult for players on offense, or they’ll be a skeptic of his ability to guard smaller power forwards without fouling.

The NCAA tournament will be a good opportunity for Bagley to prove to NBA front offices that he can succeed against top teams in the country, and if Duke is able to make a Final Four run behind Bagley, that could help him make his case for being selected above the next two bigs in this list.