Rising Stars of March Madness

Collect The Best of this Year’s Draft Class

Date: Apr 18, 2024
Author: Ryan Salfino
Topics: basketball, Bowman U, Card to Collect, NCAA Tournament, Ryan Salfino
Length: 475 Words
Reading Time: ~3 Minutes

In the electrifying realm of NCAAM Tournament basketball, certain players are crafting their legacy with eye-popping performances, igniting draft chatter. Zack Edey towers over opponents, earning plaudits from a professional for his evolution. Stephon Castle’s versatility turns heads, while Donovan Clingan’s dominance hints at future stardom. Let’s delve into their tournament feats and why they’ve boosted their stock the most.

Zack Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center, showcased dominance in scoring and rebounding, averaging 29.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per game and making the All-Tournament team. These numbers improved his regular-season averages of 25.2 and 12.2, respectively. Edey’s imposing presence in the paint intimidates opponents and boosts his team’s defense (1.8 blocks per game in the Tournament). ESPN analyst Jay Bilas predicts Edey as a potential first-round pick, possibly in the top 15. Kelly Olynyk, a professional center, complimented Edey’s physical attributes and basketball intelligence on both ends of the court. “His body and speed, balance, and quickness have improved. His strength, his functional strength, skill. For me, a lot of it is his IQ.”

Stephon Castle (UConn) averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game over six Tournament games. He shot .491 from the field and .750 from the free-throw line. Projected as a potential sixth overall pick in the 2024 draft, Castle offers versatility, standing 6-foot-6 and capable of playing multiple positions effectively. His solid free-throw shooting in the tournament may indicate better shooting ability than his three-point percentages suggest. Castle’s calling card is his ability to guard multiple positions, appealing to teams seeking a defensive stopper against guards or small forwards. He’s more than that, though. Jonathan Wasserman, lead Scout/NBA Draft Insider for Bleacher Report, described him as one of the most efficient pick-and-roll operators in the draft. “He excelled in ball screens, mostly due to his live-dribble passing and ability to use pacing and physicality while taking it to the rim. There are times when Castle looks like a natural point guard with his command, vision, and unselfishness.”

Donovan Clingan, UConn’s dominant 7-foot-2 center, highlighted his skills, averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in making the All-Tournament team. He excels at blocking shots and disrupting passing lanes with his long arms. He anchored the Huskies’ defense, forcing turnovers and intimidating opponents in the paint. Clingan, a 64.5% Tournament shooter (63.9% in the regular season), starred in the Elite Eight round against Illinois with 22 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Defensively, he added three steals and five blocks (3.2 per game for the Tournament). “In a draft class without any sure bets, Clingan stands out because of his bankable skills,” says Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. “It’s safe to say he will be a high-level rim protector with a clear path to potential All-Defensive team consideration. He’s also an excellent finisher at the rim, has magnetic hands, and is a smart-decision maker who can make savvy passes in the paint.”

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