Hot/Cold: Which prospects are rising and falling thus far this postseason?
Draymond Green, F, Sr., Michigan State
The Big Ten Player of the Year had been a consistent All-America-caliber performer this season, making it scary that he is elevating his game to another level in the post season. His Big Ten performances were quite good (15.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.3 rebounds), but his shooting was inconsistent (40.5 percent overall, 2-for-8 from 3-point range). Now, he is performing at a similar level, just more efficient- scary, ain't it?
In two Tournament games, Green is averaging 20 points, shooting 57.1 percent from the field with four 3-point makes, 12.5 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Jordan Henriquez, C, Jr., Kansas State
Scouts have gotten quite familiar with the big-bodied 6'11" center of the Wildcats lately. Although he was only a 7-point per game scorer in the regular-season, he ranked as the Big 12's second-best offensive rebounder and one of the best in the nation; he uses his massive frame to carve out space on the offensive and defensive glasses and intimidates opponents entering the paint.
After playing only 20 minutes per game in the regular-season, Henriquez has had a huge role in the team's postseason success; playing 33 minutes per game, he is averaging 16.8 points, along with 12 rebounds (with more than half of those on the offensive end!) and 3 blocks per game.
Deshaun Thomas, F, So., Ohio State
The Buckeye sophomore is about as explosive as a third-option as there is in the nation, sitting behind All-American Jared Sullinger and veteran shooting guard William Buford in terms of the team's options. But Thomas has been more aggressive as of late, utilizing his 6'7" frame to take opposing power forwards out to the perimeter where they don't stand a chance against his quickness or he can take opposing guards into the post where he simply bullies them around with his chiseled 225-pound frame.
In the NCAA Tournament, he has been Ohio State's leading scorer in both games, posting a 2012 Tournament-high (and career-high) of 31 points in the team's opener to go along with 12 rebounds and then 18 points and 7 rebounds against a feisty Gonzaga team to follow-up.
Jae Crowder, F, Sr., Marquette
Is Crowder the next versatile forward from Marquette to make the NBA? He has watched similar players- Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler crack the first-round each of the last two years and Crowder is simply strengthening his case now as the Golden Eagles advance to the Sweet 16.
The reigning Big East Player of Year seemingly does it all for coach Buzz Williams, playing both forward spots on offense, accepts really any defensive assignment and give 110 percent at all times on the floor. His numbers have been staggering: 21 points on 48.5 percent shooting, 14.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3.5 steals per game in Maruquette's two wins. But it's the hustle and efforts that the box score doesn't detail that have also been quite impressive: taking charges, diving and fighting for lose balls, etc…
Drew Gordon, F, Sr., New Mexico
The former-UCLA forward had quite the Tournament, in fact, a solid overall regular-season, but one too short as the Lobos fell to Louisville in the third round. Although he struggled with the length and athleticism of Louisville's Gorgui Dieng at times, Gordon was relentless on the glass, collecting 27 rebounds in two games, including 14 on the offensive end.
Gordon uses his strength and physicality to finish in the low-post despite a wide-array of scoring moves. He often bullies his way to the rim, routinely backing his opponent down until the last moment when Gordon uses a flick of the wrist to lay the ball in.
Lorenzo Brown, G, So., N.C. State
One of Mark Gottfried's first moves in taking over the Wolfpack this season was shifting the 6'5" Lorenzo Brown from shooting guard to point guard to replace the starter, Ryan Harrow who transferred to Kentucky. That move paid huge dividends as Brown was second in the ACC in assists per game this season with 6.4 and harassed opposing point guards with 1.8 steals a night as well.
N.C. State is riding Brown all the way to the Sweet 16 now; he is averaging 14.5 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and the sophomore guard has gotten to the foul line 15 times already this postseason. It's his ability to affect nearly every aspect of the game that is impressing scouts who are watching him more closely: he fills the stat sheet with 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the two NCAA games thus far and will have another chance to impress on the big stage against Kansas this weekend.
Bradford Burgess, G, Sr., VCU
It was not quite the same March as last year, as the VCU senior will head home a bit earlier, but he elevated his game during March Madness yet again. After a regular-season that paled in comparison to last year's post-season performances (16 points, 7 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks and 2 steals per game in March 2011), Burgess came to play. In a two-game NCAA Tournament stint Burgess was averaging 15.5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and hit six 3s for the Rams.
Marquis Teague, G, Fr., Kentucky
Is it possible that after knocking the Kentucky point guard for not being like John Calipari's other point guards of the past, that freshman Marquis Teague has turned the corner? Entirely too often during the regular-season would Teague play at his top-level speed, too quick for his own good resulting in forced shots and turnovers. Even though we saw some of this play through the first two Kentucky games, Teague has erupted for 18 points and 5.5 assists per game with just 5 total turnovers. Especially against Iowa State, Teague electrified the game with his speed and quickness and was a one-man transition break.
Kris Joseph, F, Sr., Syracuse
Joseph was a one-time favorite of ours with his long, 6'7" frame, explosive athleticism, often rising up over defenders in the lane and powering home a dunk. Syracuse faced criticism for most of the year for their lack of a go-to player, but Joseph commonly took control as the experienced senior in the lineup, whether it was the crucial jumper to end an opponents' run or a rebound and transition bucket to spark their own, the Canadian wing was one of, if not the best player on this team all year long.
As his game has seen its development take place each and every season from freshman to junior, but this season, especially in March, Joseph's game has dwindled. Over the last four games, Joseph's scoring is seemingly right around his season-average of 14 points, but his percentages have taken a steep hit: shooting 25.8 percent from the field, including 2-for-13 from 3-point range. His assists have fallen, while his turnovers have risen- not exactly the best time of year to be playing your worst basketball with the eyes of the world watching.
Perry Jones III, F, So., Baylor
Like much too often during the regular-season, Jones has this magical disappearing act. It's fantastical, and not in a good way, that a player of his talent, size, and athleticism can record just nine total points through two games; he has shot just 4-of-14 from the floor and just 1-for-4 from the foul line in the process.
What happened to the new-found aggressiveness that Jones played with during the Big 12 tournament? He was posting up his defenders, using his quickness and soft touch to finish around the rim and length to corral offensive rebounds? This is the time to shine for Jones, but instead, he is fading into the limelight.
Isaiah Canaan, G, Jr., Murray State
The runaway favorite for the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, leading the nation's only one-loss team has shied away from postseason success in Murray State's two games and will now have a long offseason to rejuvenate. He was a 19-point per game scorer and a serious threat from 3-point range (46 percent) during the regular-season; the 6-foot point guard forced himself onto many professional team's Draft boards with his leadership of the Racers and explosive offensive game.
But in the postseason, against much better competition than the OVC, Canaan has wilted. He is a combined 8-for-30 from the field, including 3-for-14 from 3-point range. While his jumper has clearly been off-target, he has remained poised throughout the Tournament games, keeping his turnovers relatively low and setting up teammates.