• Can Tyler talk about star South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell more than he already does? Can any human?
• How does North Carolina beat everyone even when they go through stretches of not hitting their shots?
• To what does Gonzaga owe their breakthrough tournament performance? Why does Tyler hate the Zags so?
• How unbearable is Dan’s post-Kansas Oregon victory lap after star Duck guard Tyler Dorsey is now averaging 25 ppg and hitting 70 percent of his three-pointers? Oh and Jordan Bell. Just ... Jordan Bell.
• How would Tyler have Gonzaga play South Carolina to end what appears to be the tournament’s most impressive road to the Final Four?
• What have we learned about Kentucky’s Malik Monk and his hometown, Lepanto, Ark. that we reveal during our eulogy?
• What does Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins have to say about game planning and time off?
... and much more!
Boston Celtics draft 2017: With Josh Jackson, Malik Monk out, what impression did they leave?
The Boston Celtics' high draft pick would be easy to lose in the shuffle as the Celtics caught up with the Cavaliers for the best record in the Eastern Conference but never forget: The Celtics will be adding one of the top prospects in the 2017 draft to this team as well.
Three prospects the Celtics may end up considering bowed out of the NCAA tournament this weekend: Kansas forward Josh Jackson and Kentucky guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox. Let's take a closer look at how those players might have helped and hurt themselves in the NCAA tournament.
De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky
We'll start with the player the Celtics are least likely to draft, but who may have helped himself the most with his tournament performance. Fox's athleticism was on full display in every game, particularly in Kentucky's win over UCLA. We broke down Ball's performance in that game at length, but Fox's performance shouldn't be understated.
First things first: Fox's defensive potential is very high, sporting ridiculously fast feet and long arms. While he will need to add size to deal with strong NBA guards (don't be surprised if he gets posted up frequently in his first couple of years), he could be a special point guard stopper.
Fox is far from just a defensive prospect, however. He is also a gifted distributor with an elite handle. On multiple occasions against UCLA, Fox broke his defender down with a vicious crossover (and yes, that defender was often Lonzo Ball), then either made a nice pass or finished around the rim. He was particularly tough in transition, where defenders struggled mightily to contain his ability to change speeds on a dime.
Fox's shot needs some work, particularly from deep. He made a few 3-pointers and demonstrated nice form and a good follow-through particularly against North Carolina in the Elite 8, but while the potential is there, we are yet to see consistent results.
If Fox becomes a decent shooter, especially from three, he could be one of the best point guards in this loaded class. Where the Celtics will likely be drafting, however, he would probably be a reach, especially given the team's stockpile of great defenders who struggle to shoot.
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Here's the slightly uncomfortable question top lottery teams are going to need to answer regarding Monk: Are you super super sure that Malik Monk isn't a star in the making?
After all, Monk is a deadly 3-point shooter who can heat up in a hurry. When he heats up, he can go berserk, as he proved against Michigan State earlier this year when he scored 47 points on 28 field-goal attempts. He's a freak athlete who can finish tough layups around the rim (and massive dunks) as well as both open and contested 3-pointers off the catch and off the dribble. When he gets going, some of the shots he hits are really impressive.
Monk could be J.R. Smith, who is a very useful player in his own right. But he also could be an unstoppable scoring force with elite athleticism. His lack of defensive awareness or consistent playmaking will probably drop him to five or six, but if the Celtics somehow fall to No. 4, Ainge might decide that pairing Monk's shot making with (for example) Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown for defensive purposes might be an experiment worth trying.
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Of all the high-level prospects in the Elite 8, Jackson probably feels the most Danny Ainge/Brad Stevens appropriate -- a high-level defender with elite athleticism and unbelievable passing ability. Jackson can run the pick-and-roll as both the three and the four in certain lineups, and he showed a better stroke this year as a 3-point shooter than many expected.
One of the areas in which Jackson shone brightest during the tournament was as a rebounder. After picking up two quick fouls and sitting much of the first half in the Elite 8 against Oregon, Jackson returned in the second and immediately made his presence felt on the glass. He finished with 12 boards, and every time a shot went up, it seemed like Jackson was in the right place -- he has an excellent nose for the ball and great hands.
Jackson probably won't ever be a go-to scorer, but he will absolutely stuff the stat sheet with assists and rebounds. In many ways, he could be the anti-Malik Monk -- a scorer only secondarily who defends, rebounds and distributes extremely well. That skill set will make him an immensely valuable player.
Before the tournament, one of the more intriguing questions was whether missing the tournament would hurt Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.
The answer? Probably not. While several prospects showed flashes of where they could excel in the NBA, the prospect who likely helped himself the most was De'Aaron Fox, who wasn't ever going to become the No. 1 overall pick. In fact, Fox probably did more to damage Lonzo Ball's stock than he did to actually improve his own -- for better or worse, the questions about Ball's defense against elite guards will likely resonate more than the statements Fox made with his dazzling transition offense.
Still, the Celtics will only have a 25 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick (assuming Brooklyn doesn't find a way to overtake the Lakers). In other words, the odds are much higher that Ball, Jackson, Monk, Fox or Jayson Tatum will end up joining the team than Fultz. Given some of the attributes those players showed during the tournament, that might be a comforting thought for Celtics fans.
Roy Williams says Kentucky more aggressive without Fox, Monk
North Carolina coach Roy Williams believes his team squandered an opportunity to push its lead to double-digits in the first half of Saturday's 75-73 win over Kentucky, but applauded the Wildcats' defensive effort, especially when John Calipari opted to sit stats De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk due to foul trouble.
Here's what Williams said about Kentucky's increase in aggressiveness with Fox and Monk on the bench:
"They're tough kids and John does a great job. They're tough kids. So we knew they were going to be there. We weren't going to just run away and hide from them, and why did we turn it over? Because they played harder. Why did we miss shots? Because they were better defensively.
"I don't coach John's team by any means, but when he took De'Aaron out and Malik out with the fouls, the people they put in were better defensive players. And I'm not trying to cut down De'Aaron or Malik or anything, but those kids stole the ball from us a couple of times. They were more aggressive. I shouldn't say better defensive players. The group they had in there were more aggressive defensively during that stretch. So they caused us to do that. But it's part of the game. I've never felt like that one four-minute stretch was going to win or lose the game."
It's interesting Williams gave this assessment considering Fox and Monk are two of the Wildcats' better on-ball defenders.