The 6-foot-8, 235-pound freshman lived up to all the hype surrounding him, averaging 23 points and eight rebounds in his first month. Those statistics were built in part on a face-up jump shot, particularly from 3-point range, which caused him to drive to the rim and take advantage of his size less often. He's doing that with greater frequency now and had a stretch of six double-doubles in a row toward the end of the regular season.
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Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Kansas
It's a given that Wiggins, like Duke's Jabari Parker, will turn pro after the tournament ends. He's as tall as Parker but considerably lighter, thus raising questions about how long it might take for his body to fully mature and withstand the rigors of an 82-game schedule. But there aren't many teams which can pass up someone with a 40-inch vertical leap and a 7-foot wingspan. The Jayhawks won't have Embiid this weekend because he's recovering from a stress fracture in his back. The 7-foot center and native of Cameroon is a late comer to the sport, which accounts for the comparisons drawn between him at this stage of his career to Hakeem Olajuwon. But the concerns about his health over the long term could bring Nerlens Noel, Greg Oden or Sam Bowie to mind.
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Julius Randle, Kentucky
No school is as synonymous with one-and-done as Kentucky. The 6-9 Randle was named the SEC Newcomer of the Year and has stood out in what qualifies as a disappointing season by the Wildcats' standards. He's eighth in the nation in rebounding with a 10.5 average and ranks second in total offensive rebounds. But in the conference championship game last weekend, he managed only four points and seven rebounds in a 61-60 loss to Florida.
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Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Projected as one of the top picks at this time a year ago before he decided to stay in school, Smart has attracted plenty of attention, not all of it positive. His three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan made the taunting the guard previously received for supposedly being a flopper seem tame. To his credit, Smart has averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals with nearly a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the Cowboys' seven games since his return.
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Nik Stauskas, Michigan
The guard who could not miss against Florida in the Elite Eight last year came into his own as a sophomore after both Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. left for the NBA. Stauskas was the Big Ten Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 points a game. As he goes, so go the Wolverines. But do the Magic really need to use a lottery pick on someone whose game resembles Victor Oladipo's in many areas?
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Gary Harris, Michigan State
Like Michigan's Nik Stauskas, Harris could wind up going in the middle of the first round. The 6-4 guard raised his scoring average from 12.9 points as a freshman to 17.1 as a sophomore with a high game of 27 against Michigan. But he went to the bench clutching his left shoulder Sunday during the Spartans’ win in the Big Ten championship game, and it was hardly his first brush with shoulder problems.
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Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The 6-9 freshman has been called one of the best athletes in the draft, although some teams could shy away from him because of his offensive shortcomings. His ability to do a little bit of everything, including defend multiple positions, helped Arizona get off to a 21-0 start. And his character and work ethic could outweigh his lack of a jump shot or post moves.
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Syracuse is another team which tapered off after going undefeated for a considerable length of time. Ennis was a key component to that start and was arguably the top clutch player in the country. Despite leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists (5.6) and steals (2.1) per game, the 6-2 guard could well end up doing what Smart did a year ago and come back for his sophomore year.
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Doug McDermott, Creighton
The nation's leading scorer with a 26.9-point average, McDermott could wind up the second-leading scorer in the history of major college basketball, trailing only Pete Maravich. One of his 12 games of 30 or more points this season came when he put up 39 on Villanova, a No. 2 seed. Even with opposing teams focused on stopping him, he continues to produce. Shades of J.J. Redick's career at Duke before the Magic drafted him?