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March Madness’ Impact on 2018 NBA Draft: Day 2

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in College Basketball

Updated Mar 16, 2018 · 4:55 PM PDT

Texas A&M forward Robert Williams shoots a free throw.
Texas A&M forward Robert Williams (44) showed his raw talent against Providence in the Round of 64, grabbing 14 rebounds. Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire.

Day one of the 2018 NCAA Tournament witnessed some heroic performances and some absolute duds from NBA hopefuls. For the former, see Houston’s Rob Gray; for the latter, see Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie.

Who’s following suit on day two?

Like yesterday, players are listed in the order they played and more will be added as games wrap-up.

Robert Williams (Texas A&M)

Williams was much hyped coming into the year after averaging 11.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.5 BPG as a freshman. He hasn’t been the monster scouts expected. Part of the problem is that the Aggies have a stacked frontcourt, and both his minutes and usage limit his chance to shine. But he’s also lacking in aggression, too often deferring instead of attacking.

The #7 Aggies came out ice-cold against #10 Providence on Friday. Williams’ rebounding and defense helped keep them in the game early. He showed off his NBA-length and athleticism with an early offensive rebound, skying Rodney Bullock (I think) with his back to the basket. He landed out of bounds, but it was still an impressive play.

Williams (14 rebounds) … crushed it on the glass, which is what allowed A&M to finally separate.

Early on, A&M didn’t exploit the mismatch that is Williams vs. Basically-Anyone-on-Providence in the post enough, leading to Williams attempting just four shots (2-4, 4 PTS) in the first half before picking up his second foul. He showed his hustle, but also his rawness, in the second half when he tried to put the ball on the floor, lost the handle, and then hit the deck to keep the possession alive. He showed his upside shortly after with a nice hook that got a friendly roll. Williams (14 rebounds) and center Tyler Davis crushed it on the glass, which is what allowed A&M to finally separate and emerge with a four-point win (73-69) that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests.

A windmill dunk in the final minute to put the Aggies up nine was the exclamation point on an overall very good performance (13 PTS, 6-9 FG, 14 REB, 2 BLK). While he didn’t show any range — which is what would really boost his stock at this point — he did demonstrate that his ostensible strengths are indeed strengths.

Over/Under 2018 NBA draft position: 14.5

Landry Shamet (Wichita State)

The Shockers needed Shamet to be at his best at both ends of the court against high-scoring Marshall. The Herd boast two superb scoring guards (Jon Elmore, 22.8 PPG; CJ Burks, 20.5 PPG) and the nation’s leading shot-blocker inside (Ajdin Penava). Shamet (6’4) needed to bother Elmore with his length, score the ball from the outside, and generate open looks for his teammates.

He didn’t really do any of that in the first half, and found himself on the bench for longer than usual. He keyed a Wichita run when he re-entered the game, penetrating before kicking it out for a three. But all in all he was subpar in the first 20 minutes, going 2-9 from the field and 0-4 from three with three dimes and two boards.

Shamet [0-7 3PT, 4 TO] had a dismal game on a big stage.

The second half was more of the same. His only made bucket was a step-back, mid-range two with a hand in his face to put the Shockers up 45-39. Later, he got careless and committed turnovers on back to back possessions, allowing Marshall to regain the lead at 54-52. It swung the tide back to the Herd just when it looked like the #4 Shockers were finally shedding the upstart #13 seed.

The shot stayed frigid in the second half and he wound up 0-7 from three. He adjusted to some extent, and with Penava on the bench in foul trouble, found some success driving to the rim. It wasn’t enough though, and his eight assists couldn’t make up for the turnovers and his inability to score, leading to a massive 81-75 upset.

Shamet (11 PTS, 3-13 F, 8 AST, 4 TO) had a dismal game on a big stage.

Over/Under 2018 NBA draft position: 26.5

Daniel Gafford (Arkansas)

A brutal start found Gafford and #7 Arkansas down 21-2 early against #10 Butler. Things got a little better for a time. Gafford ended the first half with a nice offensive rebound plus a big block at the other end, helping the Razorbacks claw back into the game — even taking a brief lead at 29-27. But the Bulldogs distanced themselves again in an easy 79-62 win.

Gafford’s defense was mostly what we’ve come to expect from the 6’11 freshman, who has the potential to be the best interior defender in this draft class. He finished the game with three blocks and just two fouls. He can’t be blamed for Butler’s 11-26 performance from beyond the arc.

He showed very little on offense. He’s usually an efficient scorer down low (61.8 FG%) but was just 2-9 from the field. A 3-4 showing from the line (with a smooth-looking stroke, to boot) was a silver lining from a player who shot 52.2% for the year and is going to be a massive offensive project at the next level.

Over/Under 2018 NBA draft position: 15.5

Jevon Carter (West Virginia)

The nation’s steals leader (97 total), Jevon Carter put #12 Murray State’s upset hopes to bed early with two steals in the first three minutes. He added a couple more before the half was out, while also racking up four assists and eight points in the opening 20. The tenacious defender looked good off the bounce and was able to create his own shot at times. He finished with 21 points, eight assists, six steals, five boards, and committed just two turnovers.

[Carter] has a solid 3-and-D floor [and t]oday’s performance gave some hope that he could be more than that.

Shooting nearly 39% from three on 5.5 attempts per game, he has a solid 3-and-D floor. Today’s performance gave some hope that he could be more than that and increased his chances of hearing his name called in April.

Over/Under 2018 NBA draft position: 56.5

Mo Bamba (Texas)

While the #10 Longhorns blew a 14-point lead and wound up on to #7 Nevada (87-83 OT), Bamba did what he does best for Texas, collecting 14 rebounds and three blocks while hitting at a decent rate in the post (6-11 FG) and making life miserable for the Wolfpack on the defensive end.

Bamba’s size and athleticism were evident at the offensive end, too. Early in the second half, he ended a 10-1 Nevada run with a nice put back, then snatched another offensive rebound and hit a short hook to stretch Texas’ lead to six. On Nevada’s next possession, he stuffed Jordan Caroline and kept possession. He had to sit for a spell after questionable fourth foul with six minutes to go, but picked up where he left off when he came back in, collecting another offensive rebound and put-back with his team up one.

Today’s game was more evidence … that [Bamba] is going to be an elite rim protector and gobble up rebounds.

Bamba fouled out with 1.6 to go and Texas felt his absence in OT, especially on a Jordan Caroline dribble-drive dunk and a Caleb Martin layup.

Today’s game was more evidence that he’s limited offensively. It was also more evidence that he is going to be an elite rim protector and gobble up rebounds at a tremendous rate.

Over/Under 2018 NBA draft position: 4.0

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