NBA potential: The top 10 prospects playing in the NCAA tournament

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

Injured Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel is a potential No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, but neither he nor his school is in the NCAA tournament. Maryland center Alex Len is a Top 10 prospect, but he is playing in the National Invitation Tournament.

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A good tournament would solidify Ben McLemore's draft standing. (AP Photo)

Regardless, there are still a lot of NBA prospects who will be the focus of NBA talent evaluators when the NCAA tournament revs up Thursday. The following is a list of Yahoo! Sports’ Top 10 NBA prospects to watch during the NCAA tournament, based on conversations with NBA executives and scouts.

“The top five will evolve during the tournament,” an NBA assistant general manager said. “This is the first time I’ve said that this late in the year. I don’t know that anyone has established themselves from a pro prospective from the rest. It will come down to team likes and needs.”

1. SG Ben McLemore, Kansas, freshman (6-5, 195)
NBA scout: “He hasn’t been as consistent as you would have hoped. He struggled in the conference tournament, but he had some great moments this season. Top shooting guard in the draft.”

2. PG Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, freshman (6-4, 225)
NBA scout: “Can he keep the other point guards in front of him? I wonder if he can be athletically special like Russell Westbrook. He has an incredible body.”

3. SF Otto Porter Jr. , Georgetown, sophomore (6-8, 205)
NBA GM: “He’s really, really good. People are very high on him. He has a complete game and can shoot the ball well.”

[The NCAA tournament is almost here, fill out your bracket now!]

4. SF/PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV, freshman (6-7, 240)
NBA assistant GM: “He’s proven that he can score the basketball in a variety of ways. He can do it low-post and away from the basket. He’s strong and athletic. He’s a solid prospect, but what position is he in the NBA?”

5. PF/C Cody Zeller, Indiana, sophomore (6-11, 245)
NBA scout: “Very fast for his size from one end of the floor to the next. Has gotten better and is more skilled than he gets credit for. Will be a solid NBA starter.”

6. G/F Victor Oladipo, Indiana, junior (6-4, 215)
NBA Asst. GM: “Extremely athletic. He can defend multiple positions. He plays hard. He has improved every season in college.”

7. SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, freshman (6-6, 225)
NBA scout: “He’s a bully scorer whose game has become more polished as the season has gone on. Streaky. Tough, strong body.”

8. F/C Kelly Olynk, Gonzaga, junior (7-0, 240)
NBA GM: “He is a talented big guy who has come on late in the season. He owns an all-around game. The big question is: Can he be a consistent shooter?”

9. PG Trey Burke, Michigan, sophomore (6-0, 190)
NBA scout: “He had a tremendous season and made a big jump in improvement from freshman to sophomore year. Highly competitive. Clever basketball player. The biggest question is his size.”

[Also: Most hyped, underrated teams of the NCAA tournament]

10. PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, sophomore (6-6, 185)
NBA scout: “He has a very high ceiling and a very low basement. He needs to tighten up his handle and make better decisions with the ball. He gets a lot of assists and a lot of turnovers.”

More NCAA tournament coverage from Yahoo! Sports:

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