March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in West Region

The 2018 NCAA Tournament’s West Region is the most lackluster in terms of NBA prospects, but there’s still plenty to see.

March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in West Region

March Madness 2018: Top NBA prospects to watch in West Region

Here’s a look at the top players to watch, an unheralded name and which matchups to keep an eye out for.

BIG BOARD: Ranking top prospects ahead of March Madness

West Region's top NBA prospects

Michael Porter Jr. | Missouri

Current rank: No. 6

Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. is by far the best prospect in the region. The 6-10 combo forward returned to action for one game in the SEC Tournament after missing three months with a back injury. He wasn’t integrated into the offense and struggled to get into rhythm on the court. Porter could have an opportunity to play a big role in the Tigers’ opening-round game, however, as starting small forward Jordan Barnett is suspended.

Robert Williams | Texas A&M

Current rank: No. 16

Texas A&M may be college basketball’s most disappointing team this season, and Robert Williams may be the NBA Draft’s most disappointing prospect. Williams opted to return to school for a sophomore season in order to improve his draft position. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown much progression. Williams still fits the rim-running, rim-protecting center archetype, but he’s undersized and plays out of position for the Aggies.

Keita Bates-Diop | Ohio State

Current rank: No. 22

After an injury cut his season short last year, Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop has bounced bag in a big way. The 6-7 small-ball power forward is averaging 23.7 points per 40 minutes this season on a 57.7 true shooting percentage. He’s knocked down 35.8 percent of his 3s while showing off his versatility on the defensive end. Bates-Diop is a competent weak-side rim protector and smart when it comes to getting into passing lanes.

Bender (Virginia) | Birdsong (Arizona) | DeCourcy (Villanova) | Fagan (Villanova)

Underrated NBA prospect to watch

Killian Tillie | Gonzaga

Current rank: No. 43

Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie made 13 of his 14 3-point attempts during the WCC Tournament a couple weeks back, which should get your ears perked up. The 6-10 Frenchman is one of the most versatile offensive bigs in the class. He’s impressively skilled with the ball in his hands and could be due for a breakout tournament.

Must-see first-round matchup

Michael Porter Jr. vs. Florida State

Porter’s played in just two college basketball games this season, and one of them didn’t really count. Getting eyes on him in a situation where he should play quite a few minutes will be valuable given the limited sample. Although Florida State isn’t very good defensively, the Seminoles do have enough athletes on the roster to give Porter a test.

NCAA BRACKET BREAKDOWNS: East | South | Midwest | West

West Region matchup we want to see

Keita Bates-Diop vs. Gonzaga’s frontcourt

This region is lacking in potential for high-profile matchups between top prospects later on in the tournament, but seeing Bates-Diop take on Tillie, Rui Hachimura (No. 51) and Johnathan Williams is interesting enough. Gonzaga’s one of the few frontcourts with enough versatility to really bother Bates-Diop on the offensive end.

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