The consensus top pick of the 2015 NBA Draft has remained relatively the same for the better part of two years, as Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor has remained at the top of many teams draft boards. However, with March Madness approaching it’s a good time to look at some under the radar prospects that could make an impact come draft night.
D’Angelo Russell – The Ohio State guard has catapulted himself into a potential top-three draft pick. The heart and soul of the Buckeyes, Russell has put up some very telling number this season. His averages of 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists place him in the conversation for the John Wooden Award at seasons end. An Ohio State tournament run could solidify Russell’s spot amongst the top draft picks.
Jakob Poeltl – The Utah big man has gone relatively unnoticed this year, and that’s a shame. Poeltl, whom is only a freshman, has flashed some serious potential. His 8.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest are enough to get scouts talking. While all the attention will be placed on Utah’s other prime prospect, Delon Wright, it could be Poeltl that steals the show.
Terry Rozier – With the justified dismissal of starting guard Chris Jones, Louisville needs Rozier to step up his play to have any shot at reaching the Final Four. Rozier has had a terrific February amassing double-figure scoring numbers in six of the team’s eight games, which include three 22 point performances. The sophomore guard needs to take on a leadership role for the team, and if his March play is comparable to that of February, than Louisville could be in the national title driver’s seat.
Jerian Grant – Perhaps no college senior has seen his stock grow as exponentially as Grant. The Notre Dame guard has seen tremendous growth over his junior and senior years. Despite playing in only 12 games his junior season, Grant averaged 19 points per contest. However, he didn’t miss a beat upon his return to action his senior year, putting up 16.9 points per contest and dishing out 6.6 assists. Grant does this by shooting a very respectable 49.5 percent from the field and only committing approximately two turnovers per game.
There is a lot to like about Grant, but just because he is a senior doesn’t mean he can’t get better.
Justin Anderson – Here is a player that is going to be very difficult to project. The Virginia Cavalier has recently undergone finger surgery and will likely miss games leading up to, if not after, Selection Sunday. When Anderson was on the court for the Cavaliers he was sensational, putting up 13.4 points per game while averaging 2.1 three-point baskets. His calling card is his outstanding defense, which is to be expected from coach Tony Bennett’s hard nosed approach to two-way basketball.
Anderson currently is positioned at the back end of the first round, but a return in mid-March could skyrocket his value much further.
Bobby Portis – Here is a player scouts are salivating over. Portis is a rare mix of athletic ability and pure toughness. The Arkansas Razorback has put together an impressive 17.6 point and 8.7 rebound campaign. What makes him so effective is his ability to affect the game on the offensive end by keeping possessions alive.
The junior forward averages a healthy 3.5 offensive rebounds per contest. He also has a serious defensive skill set, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest.