Did Ellis, Selden help or hurt their NBA stock in 2016 NCAA Tourney?
As fans of college basketball, we’ve all seen it a hundred times.
A player who has some ability but may be a little under the radar explodes during the NCAA Tournament and, just like that, finds himself listed as one of the hot draft prospects for the next NBA Draft.
Big time performances on college basketball’s biggest stage have a way of cranking up the hype machine on these types of players and, whether NBA Scouts truly put THAT much stock into an impressive tournament run, it’s impossible to argue that such a stretch does not at least catch their eyes and make them look at a player in a different light.
While the positive side of the equation is the way it goes most often, there also is something looming on the other side. Although it does not happen quite as often — because players are most often judged and evaluated on their full body of work instead of just a bad game or unlucky night — we have seen college players have their NBA draft stock suffer because of poor tourney performances.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s undeniable that playing well in the NCAA Tournament can have a major impact in the draft status for a college basketball player. Does a good run turn a no-name into a lottery pick? Not likely. But can a monster showing elevate a future pro from the second round into the first or from the late first into the lottery? You bet.
The Kansas basketball team’s recent 3-1 run in the NCAA Tournament that ended in heartbreak one game shy of the Final Four last weekend, featured some big time games from some of KU’s biggest names.
Naturally, now that the season has ended, it only makes sense that we start to wonder what that will mean for their draft status.
For a senior like Perry Ellis, who has no choice but to leave for the NBA, were the three 20-point games enough to validate a career made on consistency even though that career ended with a whimper?
And for a junior like Wayne Selden, who had his best year at Kansas and seems to have so many of the tools the NBA likes to see in its prospects, will the off night in the season’s final game reintroduce doubts into the minds of the scouts?
Because all 32 NBA teams have an entire army of scouts and not just one, it’s impossible to get a feel for this without talking to multiple representatives. But ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford, who has dozens of NBA scouts on speed dial, recently released its Tourney Stock Watch update and both Ellis and Selden were on it, under the heading “Stock Neutral,” which basically means that neither Ellis nor Selden hurt or helped himself that much by what he did in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a quick look at Ford's blurbs on each Jayhawk:
Perry Ellis, 6-9, 225-pound senior forward
"Ellis had been on fire in the first three rounds of the tournament. He had one of the best offensive games of his career against an athletic Maryland front line, scoring 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. However, his Kansas career ended on a sour note, as he scored just four points, committed four turnovers and shot 1-for-5 from the field against Villanova.
Ellis's fundamentals and steadiness will get him a good look in the second round. However, that performance against the Wildcats left scouts with a pretty bad taste in their mouths." — Chad Ford
Wayne Selden, 6-5, 230-pound junior guard
"When Selden is aggressive, he can really look the part of an NBA player -- especially when his 3-point shot is falling. He was aggressive against Villanova, but shot 0-for-6 from the field, including missing two wide open 3s in the final minutes that would've put Kansas on top.
I hear he is seriously pushing to declare for and stay in the draft. He's had a solid junior season and may warrant a second-round selection. But for all the talk about him being a lottery pick, I don't think so." — Chad Ford
From my perspective, I think both Ellis and Selden are guys that, in the right situation with the right teams, could enjoy long NBA careers.
Selden probably has a better shot to make a true impact because he has the size and skills you can plug into an actual NBA position. Ellis, though more talented overall than Selden, is not quite suited to play either the 3 or the 4 at the NBA level and, therefore, is going to have to catch a break by landing with the perfect team, of which there might only be 3 or 4 out there.
Picture Ellis on a team like the San Antonio Spurs, for example. His skill set, focus, versatility and appreciation for the finer points of the game could land him a spot on that roster very easily.
Regardless of where they end up or when they're picked, it seems clear that both will get all that any college player can ask for — a chance.
And it should be fun and interesting to watch how things play out for both players, whether Selden leaves this year or not.