Oklahoma point guard Trae Young


Schmeelk: Knicks Fan Guide To The NCAA Tournament

First-Round Pick Could Be Starring In Big Dance

John Schmeelk
March 15, 2018 - 9:38 am

The Knicks will likely pick no worse than ninth in this year’s draft, with a small chance to move into the top three. They may also slide into the seventh or eighth spot depending on how the season finishes. Here are the prospects that Knicks fans should keep an eye on in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

I will list the teams and players according to when they play. I’ll update this after each weekend of games.


12:15 p.m., Oklahoma vs Rhode Island (CBS)

Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young: At 6-2 and 180 lbs., Young led all of college basketball in points and assists (27.4 points and 8.8 assists) for much of the season. A late-season slump dropped his field goal percentage to 42 and his 3-point percentage to 36. He is an excellent shooter but takes many long-range, contested jumpers, which just stopped falling late in the year. He has excellent court vision but lacks athleticism to create his own shot, especially at the rim. The same deficiencies make you worry about his defense. The Steph Curry comparisons have been made but are premature.

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2:45 p.m., Duke vs Iona (CBS)

Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III: A numbers machine, Bagley, a 6-foot-11, can score from anywhere on the floor, including behind the arc, where he connects on 37 percent of his attempts. He shoots 60 percent from the field, grabs more than 11 rebounds and blocks a shot per game while scoring 21 points. His athleticism and defense are questions scouts have, but he's likely a top-five pick.

Duke freshman center Wendell Carter Jr: Even though he is shorter than Bagley, Carter plays more like a center, while Bagley is more of a power forward. Carter blocks two shots a game and grabs nine rebounds, but he averages just 13.8 points. He shoots 46 percent on 3s but is seen as more of a traditional paint player and a strong defender. Smart and fundamentally sound, he could be in the mix between seven and nine.

6:50 p.m., Villanova vs. Radford (TNT)

Villanova junior small forward Mikal Bridges: At 6-7 with good length to defend and a good jump shot (43 percent on 3-pointers and 18 ppg), Bridges can be an excellent complementary, two-way player. The only thing you worry about is his lack of explosive athleticism to create his own shot, but he should be good at everything else. If the Knicks pick seventh to ninth, he is a prime target as a starting small forward.

7:10 p.m., Kentucky vs Davidson (CBS)

Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox: One of John Calipari’s big-time recruits, Knox checks all the boxes at 6-9 to be a versatile forward that NBA teams crave. He is a good athlete who can shoot and has a lot of room to grow as an offensive player. He also has the tools to be a good defender. If the Knicks select closer to ninth, he would be in the conversation.

9:20 p.m., Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (TNT)

Alabama freshman point guard Collin Sexton: Sexton was great in the SEC tournament and is trying to seize the label of best point guard in the draft from Young. Sexton is a more explosive athlete and better defender than Young, but he does not shoot (34 percent on 3-pointers) or see the floor (3.5 assists) as well. He has some development to do but is considered very intelligent. He could be in the mix at picks seven to nine.

Arizona's Deandre Ayton is defended by a pair of Stanford players on March 1, 2018, at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.

9:40 p.m., Arizona vs Buffalo (CBS)

Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton: The only way the Knicks likely wind up with Ayton is if they somehow manage to jump into the top two slots in the draft, with most expecting that he and European Luka Doncic to go 1-2 in some way, shape or form. Ayton is a 7-foot-1 center who can do anything. He shoots 36 percent from 3-point range and blocks two shots, grabs 11.5 rebounds and averages over 20 points per game (shooting 62 percent from the field) by scoring in a variety of ways. He is a monster.

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4:30 p.m. Texas vs. Nevada (TBS)

Texas freshman center Mohamed Bamba: Besides having the best name in the draft, Bamba has an absurd 7-9 wingspan that makes scouts drool. He averages a ridiculous 3.7 blocks per game to go along with 10 rebounds and 13 points. His jumper could use work, but there might not be a player with better raw tools in the draft. He's likely a top-five pick.

7:10 p.m., Michigan State vs Bucknell (CBS)

Michigan State sophomore forward Miles Bridges: Someone who can play both forward spots, Bridge's versatility is considered his strength. He shoots 37 percent from 3-point range and has athletic traits but seems to struggle to create his own shot. Some wonder is he can guard quicker players on the next level. He could be in consideration at the ninth pick, but Mikal Bridges seems to have passed him on most boards.  

Michigan State freshman center Jaren Jackson Jr.: The 6-foot-11 center has the monopoly on skills NBA scouts want from a center. He shoots almost 40 percent on 3-pointers and blocks more than three shots per game. He has post-up ability and athleticism to spare as well. He’s a top-five pick who could rise with a big tournament.

9:50 p.m., Missouri at Florida State (TBS)

Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr.: He was the presumptive top pick of the draft (along with Doncic) before a back injury and subsequent surgery sidelined him after just one college game this year. You will have to grade his tournament on a curve because he has been back for only one game (he shot 5-of-17), but if he blows up, he could get himself back into top-three or -four consideration.

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