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Peachtree Hoops Guide to Conference Tournament Weekend

Looking for what to watch in college hoops this weekend? Here is some help.

Rich Barnes

Next week is the biggest week of the year for college basketball, but for some of the biggest college basketball fans conference tournament weekend is the best time of the year. There will be more quality games played over this weekend than in the NCAA tournament with nearly every player who will be drafted in July playing at least one game. Today and tomorrow are the 2 most underrated college basketball days of the year. Here is some information to help you check-in on prospects for the NBA draft and to prepare for the bigger tournament ahead:

ACC Tournament

Today could be the last time to see K.J. McDaniels in the ACC. Other prospects in the tournament that could interest the Hawks include T.J. Warren of N.C. State who is coming off back-to-back 40 point games, Syracuse's Jerami Grant, and Duke's Rodney Hood.

  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh (late second rounder who can shoot)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: James McAdoo, UNC (no longer on many draft boards)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: Brice Johnson, UNC (very thin power forward who needs to add weight)
  • Best Thursday Game: Clemson (K.J. McDaniels) versus Georgia Tech, 9:00 p.m.

A tournament loaded with a depth of prospect. Some lesser known pairs to keep an eye on include Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin, Iowa State's Deandre Kane and Melvin Ejim, and Oklahoma State prospects not named Marcus Smart.
  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Wayne Selden, Kansas (chance to step up in Joel Embiid's absence)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: Markel Brown, OSU (last chance for the senior to impress scouts)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: LeBryan Nash, OSU (highly touted player still without a clear NBA position)
  • Best Thursday Game: Kansas (Wayne Selden/Wiggins) vs. OSU (Marcus Smart/Brown/Nash), 3:00 p.m.

What used to be my favorite tournament of the year has left a depressing shadow. Xavier's Semaj Christon could meet Creighton's Doug McDermott on Friday. Not exactly Allen Iverson versus Ray Allen. Sigh.
  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall (plays Villanova today at Noon)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: Semaj Christon, Xavier (a good tourney could put him in 1st round)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: Chris Obekpa, St. John's (the PF/C plays Providence today at 2:30 p.m.)
  • Best Thursday Game: Xavier (Semaj Christon) vs. Marquette, 9:30 p.m.

Michigan began the season with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary as first-round prospects, but entering the tournament it is Nik Stauskas and Caris Lavert that have impressed. Terran Petteway of Nebraska is currently a fringe prospect as a Sophomore but he could rise quickly with a big March.
  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Devyn Marble, Iowa (great scorer faces Northwestern today at 8:30 p.m.)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (prospect most in need of a huge March)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: Caris Lavert, Michigan (freshman SG has come on strong in recent weeks)
  • Best Thursday Game: Ohio State (LaQuinton Ross/Aaron Craft) vs. Purdue (A.J. Hammons), 2:25 p.m.

The Pac-12 could be loaded with talent in 2015 if some injured (Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie) or late first-round prospects choose to return. Any of the 8 teams who play today have a decent chance to win the tournament which could mean four very competitive games today.
  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Dwight Powell, Stanford (senior PF plays ASU at 11:30 p.m.)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: Jahii Carson, ASU (the "old" sophomore has been disappointing)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: Delon Wright, Utah (long point guard who keeps improving)
  • Best Thursday Game: UCLA (Kyle Anderson/Zach LaVine/Jordan Adams) vs. Oregon (Mike Moser), 9 p.m.

If you care about your children learning the game of basketball, do not let them watch this tournament unless Florida is on the court. A lot of good basketball talent will be in the tournament, but they will not be playing very good basketball. Alabama's Trevor Releford and Florida's Scottie Wilbekin are great college point guards who are unlikely to get drafted but could work their way onto NBA rosters.
  • Lesser Known Prospect to Watch: Johnny O'Bryant, LSU (junior PF/C plays Alabama at 7 p.m.)
  • Prospect Most Needing a Big March: Jabari Brown/Jordan Clarkson, Missouri (versus Texas A&M at 1 p.m.)
  • Best Prospect for 2015 Draft: Chris Walker, Florida (eligibility issues delayed start to season)
  • Best Thursday Game: Arkansas (Bobby Portis) versus South Carolina (Sindarius Thornwell), 3:25 p.m.