The Final Four Guide for the NBA Fan: Ohio State and Louisville

On Saturday, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State will face off in the NCAA tournament Final Four in New Orleans. This year, there are several big-name draft prospects involved, including three likely Wildcat lottery picks, a Top 5 power forward for the Jayhawks, and another lottery-pick big man with the Buckeyes.

Even if you're an NBA fan with little interest in the college game, there's plenty of reason to watch Saturday's semifinals and Monday's final. To get you acquainted with all the prospects — from surefire first-rounders to guys you might not see in the NBA for another year, here's BDL's Final Four Guide for the NBA Fan. In this installment, we take a look at the Ohio State Buckeyes and Louisville Cardinals.


Jared Sullinger (Sophomore, 6-9, 280)
NBA Position: PF
Likely Draft Spot: Mid Lottery

Notes: Sullinger's a well-regarded prospect because he scores on the block and rebounds at very impressive rates. Those skills should translate to the NBA without much issue, which in the funhouse-mirror world of draft analysis makes him stand out as fairly dependable. That said, there are obvious and warranted concerns with Sullinger, particularly in his conditioning (that listed weight is considerably lower than what he played at as a freshman) and overall athleticism. On offense, he's still working on ways to score outside of the post — his jumper is improved but still in need of work, and he isn't quick enough to regularly beat defenders off the dribble. Those same issues apply to his defense, too, especially with power forwards becoming more athletic by the year. The transition from NCAA center might not be easy.

And yet those strengths will always be there, and Sullinger can't help but look like an attractive option to many lottery teams. The key will be landing in the right spot, one where he's not expected to be a superstar and is given time and space to develop into a role.

[ NCAA tourney video: Final Four players to watch ]

Deshaun Thomas (Sophomore, 6-7, 225)
NBA Position: Tweener Forward
Likely Draft Spot: Wait Until Next Year

Notes: Thomas is a classic tweener, the sort of player with a defined offensive game but no clear position to guard on defense. He has nice touch around the basket and can shoot fairly well for a college power forward, but he also looks to score pretty much every time he touches the ball, suggesting there will be some adjustment to a less central role if he makes it to the NBA. While players like Thaddeus Young have succeeded with similar skill sets, Thomas also doesn't have elite athleticism to help make up for his shortcomings. In another year, this situation might change, and all indications are that he'll be back with the Buckeyes next season.

William Buford (Senior, 6-6, 220)
NBA Position: SG
Likely Draft Spot: Second Round

Notes: It wouldn't be terribly shocking to see Buford go undrafted. He's a perfect picture of the contemporary senior wing: a solid shooter, a pretty good defender, and a hardworker who unfortunately doesn't have one elite skill to make him more attractive to NBA teams. He might catch on as a role player, but he's no sure thing.


Gorgui Dieng (Sophomore, 6-11, 235)
NBA Position: C/PF
Likely Draft Spot: Wait Until Next Year

Notes: Hailing from Senegal, Dieng came to basketball late and is still developing as a prospect and contributor. For now, he succeeds primarily as a shot-blocker, although he fouls a ton and needs to add more strength to deal with NBA big men. He shows the potential to develop into a versatile center, occasionally throwing nice passes or displaying other rare skills. However, he's a clear project.

[ NCAA tourney video: Which Final Four teams will advance? ]

Peyton Siva (Junior, 6-0, 180)
NBA Position: PG
Likely Draft Spot: Wait Until Next Year

Notes: With generous listed measurements, Siva doesn't have the size to defend NBA point guards consistently. On top of that, he's not much of a scorer, averaging 9.0 ppg on 40.3 percent shooting this season. However, with great quickness and a good feel for how to run a team, he might find a spot as a change-of-pace backup point guard, spelling a starter for 10 minutes per game without hurting or helping a team too much.

In case you missed it, check out an NBA fan's guide to the Kentucky Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks.

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