The Final Four is coming up on Saturday night, putting us in the thick of college basketball awards season.
We found out the players who were selected to the AP All-American teams earlier today and a lot of players that Danny Ainge could have interest in where among those honored as many of them could wind up being decent fits with the Boston Celtics.
FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
Frank Mason, Kansas
Mason will be a player that teams take a chance on with a late second round pick because they have many questions about his size and a few other traits that make scouts questions his ability to be a great NBA player. This should make fans in New England afraid though because an undersized Isaiah Thomas was the NBA’s Mr. Irreverent in 2011 after a great college career.
Josh Hart, Villanova
It appears that Hart is pretty close to his ceiling right now after four years of college, which is why the 6’6″ shooting guard is only projected to be an early second round pick after an incredible college career. This could set him up for a surprising rookie year – just like Malcolm Brogdon is currently having in Milwaukee – although he’s still only seen as an offensive roll player at best.
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
The Big 12 Player of the Year was second in the country in rebounding and led the nation in double-doubles, so at first glance this is a 19-year old that fans in Boston would love to get their hands on. But in reality, he’s just another Jared Sullinger. Swanigan is not a good shot blocker at all and he’s very slow on his feet, meaning he’ll struggle to run with the stretch bigs that are becoming major weapons in today’s NBA. He’s a solid offensive player, but at the same time he’s limited in what he can do on that end of the floor.
Lonzo Ball, California-Los Angeles
The first overall pick should come down to Ball and Markelle Fultz, meaning there’s a chance that Ball just falls into the Celtics lap if the ping-pong balls don’t bounce their way on lottery night. Crazy dad aside, this kid can flat out play and there is nothing wrong with winding up with him. Ball led all of Division I with 7.7 APG and at 6’6″ he’s going to be able to defend at least three positions in the NBA.
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Jackson is probably out of play for Ainge and the Celtics. He’s projected to be a late lottery pick and with Boston not having a pick between the unprotected Nets selection and the Minnesota Timberwolves second round choice, some big trade would have to happen that allows the team to take a run at him. You still have a shot to watch Jackson in the Final Four this weekend.
SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
Nobody is really expecting Williams-Goss to enter the draft this year and it seems like he’ll be coming back for his senior year, meaning you can catch him in the Final Four this weekend and watch him ball another 40 times next year for the Bulldogs. Williams-Goss transferred from Washington with stud point guard Markelle Fultz coming in and it all seems to have worked out for him.
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Brooks is a tough matchup for anyone at a 6’7″ kid playing power forward for the Ducks while shooting over 40% from three at the same time. His skillset can make him a solid niche player on the offensive end at the NBA level, but that’s probably his ceiling with no defined position. He and Williams-Goss were high school teammates at Findlay Prep in Nevada, which is also where current Celtic Avery Bradley went. Expect to see him taken early in the second round.
Luke Kennard, Duke
Expect Kennard to be a mid-to-late first round pick after a stellar sophomore season with the Blue Devils, although that projection should put him out of range for the Celtics like it did with Justin Jackson. He will be one of the best pure shooters in this year’s draft class and could be able to make an impact right away on a talented team that takes in in the early 20’s.
Malik Monk, Kentucky
The people who like to judge everything in the moment off of one game were about ready to draft Monk over Ball after the two met in the Sweet Sixteen. It isn’t really a pick that should be made, but Monk is still a top five pick in year’s draft and will get a hard look from Ainge if the lottery process really backfires on them.
Jonathan Motley, Baylor
Motley is another player that would only be in play for the Celtics if things really got moved around, as he should wind up being a late lottery pick in this year’s draft. He’s gotten progressively better in each of his three years at Baylor and even added a three point shot to his game this year, although there is still room for improvement with it. The power forward still has room to grow and could wind up being a draft night steal.
THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz have been the consensus top two picks since the beginning of the college basketball season and Jackson is really the only guy who has a chance to break that up. Jackson does come with a bit of baggage though as he was suspended for the first game of the Big 12 conference tournament after vandalizing a women’s car. Are there worse red flags on players? Certainly. But that’s still worse then just having a crazy dad.
Markelle Fultz, Washington
A lot of people believe that Fultz will be the number one pick, which could mark the second straight season where the top overall pick was a one-and-done freshman who failed to lead his team to the NCAA tournament. At least in Ben Simmons case, the LSU Tigers were on the bubble for most of the season; the Washington Huskies went 9-22 this year. Poor record aside, Fultz earned this All-America selection after leading the Pac-12 in scoring and finishing second in assists behind Lonzo Ball.
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
Ball and Fultz stole all the headlines this year, but Markkanen was another stud freshman in the Pac-12 and he should be picked somewhere behind fifth and tenth overall on draft night. The 7’0″ big man from Finland can stretch the floor with an excellent three point shot but his athleticism does limit him. He was arguably the best weapon in a half-court offense this year but you can’t expect much out of him in transition. Markkanen also has a short wingspan for his height, which is something that has limited Kelly Olynyk a bit in his career.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Happ is just a sophomore and is somebody to look at for the 2018 draft as opposed to the one coming up in June. He has been a very consistent scorer, rebounder and shot blocker in each of his first two years but he seems to be teetering on the line of being dominant. A junior year jump could make him a lottery pick in a future draft class.
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
It was a breakout year for Colson, but that isn’t going to be enough to get him drafted. He’s a power forward who is listed at 6’5″ and his relentless hustle is able to get him by in college – as he averaged 17.8 PPG and 10.1 RPG – but his size will make it very hard for an NBA team to draft him. Colson did shoot 43.3% from three last year but the sample size was very small as he plays more like a traditional power forward. He will return for his senior year next season and would benefit by showing some guard tendencies.