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Five Players Who Improved Their NBA Draft Stock In March Madness

Mar 21, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) talks to the media during the practice day at Gainbridge FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is the perfect time for players across NCAA basketball to put the world on notice. No matter if you are a blue-blood player or from a smaller university, everyone is given the opportunity to shine.

This tournament has already had some great performances by teams and players. With the first weekend of March Madness in the books, here are five players who improved their draft stock so far.

1) Zach Edey, C, Purdue Boilermakers

Mar 24, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) looks on during the second half against the Utah State Aggies at Gainbridge FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness Averages: 26.5 points, 17.5 rebounds, 2,5 assists, three blocks

There is no denying that Zach Edey is the most unstoppable force at the collegiate level. His frame of seven-foot-four and 300 pounds makes it a nearly impossible task for any team to defend at the college level. When Edey gets the ball in the paint, you can almost always guarantee two points or a foul.

After their loss to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson last year, Edey and the Boilermakers have come back with a vengeance. The future of Edey playing in the NBA has been a major talking point over the course of his career.

However, he has shown that he has the ability to at least be a backup rotational piece for a team. The big man may not be able to dominate at the NBA level the way that he does in college. Regardless, his play has been dominant in March Madness.

2) Jared McCain, G, Duke Blue Devils

Mar 24, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) reacts after a basket against the James Madison Dukes in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness Averages: 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 64.7 percent from long range

While Jared McCain is known for his fun TikToks off the court, there is no denying that he’s a dog the moment he steps on it. His three-point shooting ability makes him a threat against any opponent. That talent was put on full play when he hit eight threes against James Madison.

As a freshman, he has played a massive part in Duke’s success so far this year. Even as a bit of a smaller guard at six-foot-three, he still finds ways to make an impact on the defensive end as well. McCain will likely find himself going in the first round of this or next years draft if he declares.

Duke’s next matchup against the Houston Cougars will be a great test for him. Houston has one of, if not the best defense in college basketball. If McCain is able to have another great performance, he will be able to improve his draft stock even further.

3) Jamal Shead, G, Houston Cougars

Houston's Jamal Shead (1) looks to pass the ball during the first round game between University of Houston and Longwood University in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn., on Friday, March 22, 2024.
© Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

March Madness Averages: 16 points, four rebounds, 9.5 assists

What Jamal Shead does for the Houston Cougars goes far beyond any stat sheet. He is the engine on both ends of the ball that keeps his team running. In many ways, a great comparison for a player like Shead would be Marcus Smart.

Shead is able to be the primary ball handler on the defensive end while remaining a pest on defense. His 9.5 assists per game through his first two contests speak to his ability to create for his team. Houston has been a great team throughout the entirety of this season and much of their success can be attributed to Shead.

Above all else, the senior guard is praised for his high character. While he might not even be selected in the first round, he has the potential to instantly go make an impact on a team. Any team that takes a shot on Shead will be rewarded.

4) Donovan Clingan, C, UConn Huskies

Mar 16, 2024; New York City, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) celebrates as the clock winds down against Marquette Golden Eagles in the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness Averages: 16.5 points, 11 rebounds, 2.5 assists, four blocks

Donovan Clingan is a monster on both sides of the court. Clingan has blossomed in his Sophomore year and has the Huskies hoping to repeat.

His length allows him to disrupt and block a lot of shots. While UConn runs a lot of their offense off the ball, Clingan still makes an impact in the paint as a lob threat and dunker. Rims across the country fear him when he’s bulldozing to the rim.

The seven-foot-two big man will likely be taken in the lottery of this year’s draft. He can protect the rim very well and scores with relative ease. The Huskies will need him to continue dominating teams if they are to win another championship.

5) Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette Golden Eagles

Mar 24, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles guard Tyler Kolek (11) dribbles against the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half at Gainbridge FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness Averages: 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 11 assists, 1.5 steals

Similar to Shead, Tyler Kolek is the engine for Marquette’s offense. After injuring his oblique, Kolek missed an extended period of time to end the regular season. You wouldn’t know he had been injured at all by his play in March Madness.

The six-foot-three guard leads all of college basketball in assists per game. When he isn’t looking to get his own shot, he is looking to create for his teammates. After their upset loss to Michigan State last year, the Golden Eagles look poised to continue advancing.

His passing is a true sight to behold. However, he is more than capable of attacking the basket when his team needs him to. As a senior, he may not have the upside that some other players in his class may have. Regardless, he will have the opportunity to make an instant impact on a contending team.