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NCAA Tournament: Round 2 Standouts

Posted on 22. Mar, 2010 by Marcus Kwamie in NBA Draft, Tournaments


The first weekend is in the books and was it ever action packed.  The following players stood out in round two.  Some of them improved their draft stock, some of them went from unknown to media darlings, and some continued the strong play they've shown all season. 



Omar Samhan, St. Mary's

Here’s a guy most people had never heard of, never mind seen play coming into the NCAA tournament. Now Omar Samhan is a household name. At 6-11, 260 pounds Omar is an absolute load in the paint. He dominated Villanova on Saturday in a variety of different ways. Omar beat his opponents down the floor in transition, hit the mid range jumper, created space for himself in the post, scored at the line, and provided the necessary senior leadership to keep his team believing. Omar shot 13-16 from the floor, going for 32 total points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Samhan has become one of the tournament darlings, not just for his play but his outspoken personality on the court. As the leader of this Gaels team, Omar plays the crowd onto his side and has been providing the media with some great quotes at the press conferences. Samhan has the size and the skill set to play in the NBA and I think scouts took notice. With a regimented workout plan to turn some of the baby fat into muscle before the draft and another game or two like this past weekend, we may have not seen the last of Omar Samhan.

J.P. Prince and Scotty Hopson, Tennessee

They say guard play is the key to making a deep tournament run and Tennessee certainly got everything they could ask from their terrific veterans.  Prince and Hopson were extremely efficient, as both players made 7 of their 9 shots.  Hopson showed off his stroke, making 2-3 from three and connecting on some mid range jumpers.  I remember seeing Prince while he played for Arizona and thinking he was going to be special one day.  He's got great length, energy, and heart.  He plays with emotion and effects the game in a variety of ways.  He pulled down 4 rebounds, handed out 3 assists, and got to the line 7 times.  His length is going to be very important in the next round vs. Evan Turner and he will be asked to limit Evan Turner's production as much as humanly possible.  

LaceDaruis Dunn, Baylor

After declaring Dunn the best player you've never heard of earlier in the week, Dunn has made sure he won't ever have that label again.  He put it to Old Dominion Saturday, connecting on 9 of his 16 shots and 4 of his 5 free throws.  He finished with a game high 26 points and picked up the slack on a night where Ekpe Udoh had a rare quiet game.  Dunn converted game changing alley-oops early to give Baylor a lead, and converted dunks and  three's late allowing the Bears to hold on.  He won't be flying under the national radar anymore, and now the world knows what everyone at Baylor already knew.  Dunn is a heck of a player.  

Quincy Pondexter, Washington

Quincy Pondexter is making this tournament his own personal showcase and as a result should be rising on draft boards. He has been toiling for four years up in the Pacific Northwest and hasn’t had a much national exposure thanks to the East Coast bias.  That said, he’s really making a name for himself in this tournament with two strong back-to-back performances. Pondexter showed how dynamic he is in transition by filling the lane and finishing with authority. On offense he always stays moving and makes very hard cuts to the ball. Washington had 21 assists on 32 field goals in this game and Pondexter was the major beneficiary of the Huskies’ great ball movement. He finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds on 7-12 shooting.  Pondexter will be tested by West Virginia’s front line in the next round, but his performances so far indicate that he’s up to the challenge.

Ali Farokhmanesh, Northern Iowa

Have a bracket that's been busted?  You aren't alone.  Ali Farokhmanesh singlehandedly destroyed the brackets of millions across the country when he put the dagger in the heart of #1 overall seed, Kansas Jayhawks.  While he only scored 16 points, he made the biggest shot of the weekend (sorry Korie Lucious); a three which shocked the world and sent Northern Iowa to the Sweet 16. 

Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

Pullen came to Kansas State in the Michael Beasley recruitment class and many passed judgement on Jacob as being only a complimentary shooting guard. Shame on them. Pullen has grown into a leader, a defensive presence, and an offensive juggernaut for this K-State team that is carrying a ton of momentum into the sweet sixteen. Pullen drew the tough assignment of guarding Jimmer Fredette versus BYU. Jimmer came into the tilt having scrored thirty plus points in three consecutive games. Not only did Pullen hold him to 21 points on 4-13 shooting but he provided the defensive spark the team needed to close out the first half after a collision with Fredette. After the collision, Jacob led the Wildcats with an offensive flurry scoring the last 11 points of the first half. Pullen had his career high offensive game scoring 34 points including 7-12 shooting from long range. Next up the Xavier Musketeers and the ever so dangerous Jordan Crawford.

Darius Miller, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

Sophomore guard Darius Miller stepped up and netted a career high 20 points for the Wildcats, who showcased yet another way to beat up on their opponent. Miller hit on a number of soft floaters in the lane and drained a couple of jumpers from the left elbow. He led Kentucky in scoring, but perhaps, more impressively also led the team in rebounds with 9. John Wall had another strong game finishing with 14 points and a game-high 7 assists.  He was whipping the ball all over the court and finding open teammates with a number of wrap-around passes, while also threading the needle with pinpoint accuracy. Wall really exhibited his game changing speed in this game. One of the commentators described John Wall as a "one man fast break".  This could not be any more accurate as Wall gets out faster than third graders for recess. DeMarcus Cousins also had a very strong game in the paint, dominating to the tune of 9-10 shooting  from the floor. He runs the floor very well for a big man and he overpowered defenders and finished strong inside with 3 dunks and a bunch of layups. Cousins also continued to show prowess on the defensive end, blocking a shot and changing countless others. The only weakness in his game was that he shot poorly (1-7) from the foul line. In a 30-point blowout, there are no consequences, but in a close game his free throw shooting could end up being the difference.

Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins, Syracuse

The Orange steamrolled the Zags in round two, dazzling their defacto home court  in Buffalo.  They combined to shoot 18 of 29 from the floor and 9 of 15 from deep.  When you give up those types of shooting numbers to your opponents two best players, chances are you're going to get run out of the gym.  Unfortunately for the Zags, that's exactly what happened.  Johnson seems to be healthy again and returned to early season form in his two games in Buffalo.  He made effortless three's, step back jumpers, and mid range fadeaways.  He proved to scouts he was the best prospect in Buffalo, and made his case as the best small forward in the upcoming draft.  Rautins is also quietly making his way onto the NBA radar.  While his shooting is a known commodity, it's Andy's passing, defensive effort, and length that have scouts intrigued.  He put the Orange on his back while it remained close early, connecting on a plethora of first half three's and proving he thrives when the lights shine brightest.  A terrific outing for both of these veteran superstars.  They seem to be on a mission and if they continue to play this well, the Cuse could be the toughest out in the dance going forward. 

Evan Turner, Oho State

Turner did what Turner always seems to do.  He nearly recorded a triple-double (actually nearly a quadruple if you count turnovers).   He scored 24 points, pulled down 9 rebounds, and handed out 9 assists.  He does it all for the Buckeyes.  He runs their half court sets, brings the ball up the court, gets them a hoop when they need a score, attacks the glass on both ends (3 offensive rebounds), and often guards the best player on the defensive end.  He's as complete a player as I've seen in the tournament since Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse all the way in '03.

Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Senior Forward Da’Sean Butler had a complete game. once again doing a little bit of everything for the Mountaineers. He showed off his range, hitting on 4 of 9 from downtown and was a presence inside.  He was able to draw fouls on Missouri all game long. Da’Sean shot the ball well from the line converting 12 of his 13 attempts. He also had 8 rebounds and had 2 blocks on the defensive end. However, Butler’s signature play in the game was an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and a stick back lay-up with just over a minute left that put West Virginia up by 7 and clinched the game for the Mountaineers.  He continues to make all the plays for West Virginia with the game on the line.  He is officially the most clutch player in America.  HANDS DOWN. 

Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman, Cornell

Seniors Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman were not satisfied with just one brilliant performance in the tourney.  They came strong again and upset Wisconsin with a mixture of hot shooting, tough inside drives, and precise passing.  Wittman showed his unlimited range by draining three-pointers from beyond NBA range with consistency.  Dale showed off his shot making skills, sinking  floaters in the lane and converting on a couple  three point plays. Dale led the way with a game-high 26 points and also handed out a couple of very nice dimes to center, Jeff Foote.  Wittman wasn't too far behind, finishing with 24 points and perhaps solidifying his case as the tournaments best shooter. As we predicted last week, The Big Red have taken on the role of Cinderella and marched their way into the sweet 16. 

Jordan Crawford, Xavier

Crawford has shed his rep as the guy with the YouTube clip and proved to the world that he's a complete player.  He's been one of the three or four most impressive players of the first weekend.  After going for 28 and 6 vs. Minnesota, Crawford torched Pittsbugh for 27 points on 9-15 shooting.  Known as a terrific athlete, Crawford has made 9-18 from three point thus far.  Look for him to see the most significant rise up draft boards this week. 

This article was put together by a collaboration between Nolan Shulman, Justin Shulman, and Marcus Kwamie. 

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