SPORTS

10 March Madness Stars Who Improved NBA Draft Stock The Most

These prospects have shined during the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield has continued his brilliance, destroying Oregon for 37 points to propel the Sooners to their first Fin
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield has continued his brilliance, destroying Oregon for 37 points to propel the Sooners to their first Final Four since 2002.

There may not a better time to endear yourself to NBA scouts than during the NCAA Tournament. The entire country is locked in, as are prospective employers. As we examined recently, March Madness heroes of the past have become household names and propelled themselves further up draft boards. This year has been no different.

Here are the 10 players who have improved their draft status the most during the dance:

  • Yogi Ferrell, senior, point guard, Indiana
    Instead of focusing on what the undersized Ferrell can't do, let's focus on what he can do: score, push tempo, shoot the 3, h
    USA Today Sports / Reuters
    Instead of focusing on what the undersized Ferrell can't do, let's focus on what he can do: score, push tempo, shoot the 3, hit big shots, drive opposing coaches mad. The generously listed 6-foot-1 Ferrell is one of the all-time great players in Bloomington because of a killer instinct and fearless playing style. He significantly improved as a senior, raising his field goal percentage to 46 percent (excellent for a lead guard) and 3-point percentage to 42 percent. Ferrell can play at the next level because of his pick-and-roll ability alone. Think Bobby Jackson 2.0.
  • Domantas Sabonis, sophomore, power forward, Gonzaga
    Sabonis' feathery lefty touch may very well have helped him play his way into the top five of June's draft. His best per
    John Leyba via Getty Images
    Sabonis' feathery lefty touch may very well have helped him play his way into the top five of June's draft. His best performance came against Utah All-American center Jakob Poeltl, in which Sabonis totaled 19 points and 10, while holding the 7-footer to a measly 5 points and 4 rebounds. The beauty of Sabonis is that at 6-foot-11, he has extended his range out to the 3-point line and converts 77 percent of his free throws. About the only thing he doesn't do is block shots, but his coach, Mark Few, says Sabonis reminds him of a 1,000-pound Siberian Tiger. The Lithuanian plays with a nonstop motor, and because of an injury to teammate Przemek Karnowski, he spent much of his sophomore campaign playing the five slot. I've been saying it for two years now, but there is a lot to love about this prospect. He is viable star in the making.
  • Brice Johnson, senior, forward, North Carolina
    Johnson has 23 double-doubles, meaning he and Sabonis are tied for fifth nationally. The former mega recr
    USA Today Sports / Reuters
    Johnson has 23 double-doubles, meaning he and Sabonis are tied for fifth nationally. The former mega recruit has enjoyed a sensational senior year. The 6-foot-9 Johnson's best attributes are his super quick leaping and rim-running capacity, but he's also a guy who is very comfortable from the high post and even extended block. His 25-point, 12-rebound effort against a talented Indiana team may have cemented his status as a first-round pick.
  • Malachi Richardson, freshman, shooting guard, Syracuse
    Richardson, a former McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic selectee, has been chastised by Jim Boeheim for his err
    Jonathan Daniel via Getty Images
    Richardson, a former McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic selectee, has been chastised by Jim Boeheim for his errant shot selection, but the 6-foot-6 freshman swingman has turned it on when it mattered most. Against Virginia and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon specifically, Richardson showed impressive offensive ability. The 20-year-old New Jersey native scored 21 points in the second half, including a couple of enormous 3-pointers with the game hanging in the balance. Another reason he could find himself in the lottery is his willingness to attack the rim, along with the fact that 2016 is widely regarded as a light class for combo guards. If you're looking for a comparison, the Laker's Nick Young might be Richardson's NBA floor (see 3-goggles).
  • Tyler Lydon, freshman, forward, Syracuse
    Richardson isn't the only Syracuse freshman drawing rave reviews for his play in the tournament. Lydon -- and his <a href="ht
    Grant Halverson via Getty Images
    Richardson isn't the only Syracuse freshman drawing rave reviews for his play in the tournament. Lydon -- and his mustache known as "Rico" -- is a rail-thin but extremely talented 6-foot-8 forward who was not heavily recruited but has been monumental to the Orange success on both ends of the floor. His shooting (41 percent from 3 for the season), along with natural shot-blocking ability (17 in the last three games), has propelled him into the top 20 discussion. With the pro game evolving into stretch 4s who can spread the floor, Lydon -- once he adds strength to his frame -- is an ideal fit. If he plays great against Carolina's touted frontcourt in the Final Four, even better.
  • Buddy Hield, senior, shooting guard, Oklahoma
    Nobody has had a better year, and yet Hield -- who ranks second nationally in scoring -- has been even better in the tourname
    Harry How via Getty Images
    Nobody has had a better year, and yet Hield -- who ranks second nationally in scoring -- has been even better in the tournament. His recent 37-point explosion against Oregon showed once more his big shot ability and capacity to take over even when defenses are primed to stop him. At 6-foot-4, Hield -- who didn't even start playing basketball until he was 13 -- is a tad undersized for an NBA shooting guard, and his defense isn't a strength. And yet, with the premium the league has put on shooting and character, Hield, a Bahamas native, deserves to be a top five pick. Still not sold? His numbers are better than Stephen Curry's collegiate numbers at Davidson. Impressive.
  • Brandon Ingram, freshman, small forward, Duke
    The electric Ingram was lights out during Duke's three NCAA Tournament games, including a 24-point, 5-rebound line in its Swe
    Lance King via Getty Images
    The electric Ingram was lights out during Duke's three NCAA Tournament games, including a 24-point, 5-rebound line in its Sweet 16 defeat to Oregon. However, his lack of strength and lean frame is cause for concern: He did not make a single field goal in the final 11:50 against the Ducks. The Kevin Durant comparisons may not be completely accurate, but you can certainly understand them. Ingram, at 6-foot-9, possesses tremendous natural scoring ability to go along with his length and playmaking. He can handle it, get to the rack and shoot it from deep (42 percent). Ingram's dynamic March Madness play has also further catapulted him into the discussion for the NBA draft's top overall pick, alongside LSU's Ben Simmons. And remember that Ingram is young for his class -- he's just 18 years old.
  • V.J. Beachem, junior, shooting guard, Notre Dame
    Beachem put together a splendid junior year, averaging 12 points on 44 percent from distance for an Elite Eight Irish club. A
    USA Today Sports / Reuters
    Beachem put together a splendid junior year, averaging 12 points on 44 percent from distance for an Elite Eight Irish club. At 6-foot-8, he has great size for his position and is a high-level athlete. He still needs to work on his attacking ability, but after a terrific tournament in which he shot 12-22 from 3, Beachem could find himself off the board late first-round in June should he declare.
  • Georges Niang, senior, forward, Iowa State
    Niang's remarkable versatility as a playmaking point-forward was on full display during Iowa State's Sweet 16 run. The 6-foot
    Jamie Squire via Getty Images
    Niang's remarkable versatility as a playmaking point-forward was on full display during Iowa State's Sweet 16 run. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior averaged 29 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while shooting nearly 50 percent from 3, including a 30-point outburst versus defensive minded Virginia. The questions with Niang as a pro are whether or not he can guard and if he is laterally quick enough. A brilliant four-year career in Ames should quell such concerns.
  • Chris Boucher, senior, forward, Oregon
    Boucher is a human pogo stick who ranked second nationally in blocks (3.1 per game) this year starring in Eugene. But the for
    Ezra Shaw via Getty Images
    Boucher is a human pogo stick who ranked second nationally in blocks (3.1 per game) this year starring in Eugene. But the former junior college player of the year only spent one year in major college basketball, and at 6-foot-10, his 200-pound body remains a concern. But Boucher's nimble feet, rim-running capacity and 3-point shooting (34 percent) are all pluses. In addition, he went for 14 and 10 against a beefy Oklahoma frontline in the Elite Eight. There is a lot to like here, especially if he measures out as long as we think he is.

Watch my latest for Bleacher Report to find out how Monday night's title game will be decided and the winners and losers thus far in the Final Four.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related on Twitter at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report. Also, check out Bleacher Report Video for my full college hoops analysis throughout the entire tournament. And tune in to my SiriusXM Radio show Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. EST on Bleacher Report channel 83.

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