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6 March Madness Players That Can Improve Their Stock for the 2021 NBA Draft

| March 19, 2021 7:28 am PDT

March Madness is a time for tradition, heroics, and legendary performances. Fans can believe, players can raise their game to new heights, and schools can hope for a dream run that will live on forever.

Some players can parlay a solid run in the men’s college basketball tournament into a better draft position, too.

Playing well during March Madness automatically gets eyes on NBA hopefuls. Most of the best NCAA players are likely cemented as top-three candidates or lottery picks, of course.

However, with one massive performance or an impressive tourney run, fringe lottery picks can move into the top-14, late first-round picks can climb up the ladder, and potential undrafted gems can put their name on the NBA map.

Who is ready to show up on the biggest college basketball stage and ensure they get selected during the 2021 NBA Draft?

These six players stand out as prospects that can boost their NBA Draft stock during 2021 March Madness.

Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois

Key 2020-21 Stats
20.7 points per game
6.3 rebounds per game
5.3 assists per game
38.7 3P%

Dosunmu is a great player to start with, as he’s paced an explosive Illinois offense that went 23-6 on the year and generated over 81 points per game.

A large chunk of that came from Dosunmu, who shot 38% from long range, while chipping in 20 points per game. A fluid athlete with the ability to create for himself and others (5.3 assists per game), Dosunmu already has a career at the next level.

The only hiccups are questions about his consistency, half court efficiency, and his future as a true point guard.

The scoring is already there, so guiding a #1 seed in the Fighting Illini to a deep tourney run could work to quell some of those lingering concerns.

Dosunmu is probably just on the outside of the 2021 NBA Draft lottery as things stand. A deep March Madness run could make him a lock to go inside the top-14.

Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas

Key 2020-21 Stats
14.2 points per game
3.5 rebounds per game
1.1 steals per game
38.7 3P%

Kansas did not get a #1 seed this year, but the Jayhawks were still among the best teams in college basketball.

Their record didn’t necessarily scream that at 20-8, but Kansas has the talent and coaching to make a deep run during the 2021 March Madness tournament.

Agbaji playing above the level of production he’s pushed out this season could allow that to happen. A strong defender with an elite outside jumper (38%), Agbaji is a force on the outside for Kansas, and he’s also shown the ability to create offense on his own.

He was at his best in the Big 12 Quarterfinal, where he lit up Oklahoma to the tune of 26 points.

Agbaji is largely seen as a 3-and-D player right now, but there is a place for that type of player in the NBA. Showing up even more on the defensive end and catching fire during March Madness could boost his stock and make him a lock for the first round.

If he can be a bit more proactive as a scorer with the ball in his hands, he could show NBA GMs he’s a more versatile offensive weapon than it may first appear.

Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

Key 2020-21 Stats
14.1 points per game
5.4 assists per game
2.3 steals per game
49.3 3P%

It’s hard to make a list about players that can improve their NBA Draft stock during March Madness and not include one of the top scorers for the Baylor Bears.

One of the most explosive offensive teams in the nation, Baylor earned a #1 seed after putting up over 84 points per game during an amazing 22-2 campaign.

The Bears are loaded, which plays into Mitchell being somewhat overshadowed. It’s quite arguable he’s the best NBA prospect on this team, however, and he’s also what makes this offense hum.

ESPN draft guru Mike Schmitz has also marveled at how much better Mitchello has gotten.

If Baylor is to make a deep run, he’ll likely play a huge hand in it.

Mitchell doesn’t average as many points as Jared Butler or MaCio Teague, but he projects better thanks to solid size, elite athleticism, strong defense, and a high basketball IQ.

Oh, and he’s converting from outside at an absurd 46% rate this season.

Mitchell is honestly the total package. He’s a gamer, a natural leader, and a balanced offensive player. If his shot keeps falling and Baylor makes a deep run, it will be hard for NBA teams to allow him to slide out of the top half of the first round.

Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois

Key 2020-21 Stats
17.6 points per game
9.6 rebounds per game
1.2 blocks per game
65.5 FG%

Today’s modern NBA doesn’t loudly profess it’s love for skilled big men, but there is always going to be a place for elite centers prospects.

Cockburn appears to be one of them, and he’s been a key piece to the puzzle for an elite Illinois squad that many feel can make a title run this season.

The towering Cockburn is a huge reason why, as the true 7-footer is a terror inside, is a solid rebounder, and can deter opponents from attacking the basket on the other end.

The main knocks on Cockburn are that he’s more of a traditional five, and that he hasn’t displayed the ability to space the floor. That said, he’s a man-eater down low, and he projects as a potential difference-maker at both ends at the next level.

Cockburn could unleash some shooting touch in this tourney to raise some eyebrows, but simply sticking to his strengths and dominating the paint is going to work wonders for him.

A fringe first rounder, Cockburn will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue if he continues to flex his muscle down low for Illinois.

Herbert Jones, SF, Alabama

Key 2020-21 Stats
11.2 points per game
6.5 rebounds per game
3.4 assists per game
1.8 steals per game
39.2 3P%

Don’t sleep on Herbert Jones. Heck don’t sleep on Alabama, either.

The Crimson Tide are understandably best known for winning titles with Nick Saban in college football, but this year’s Alabama basketball team feels special.

Jones is a huge reason why, as he’s exceptionally versatile, and makes a huge impact on both ends of the floor. That’s probably why he won SEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year this season.

The numbers don’t jump out at you thanks to Alabama’s amazing depth, but Jones has displayed strong scoring ability, he defends at a high level, and he can even make plays for his teammates.

If you’re looking for a tall, long athlete that can stretch the floor (39% from three), and will give you tireless effort on the defensive end, then you might have interest in Jones.

His stock is low due to average numbers, but Jones’ presence and impact is anything but. It may take some big performances and/or a deep tourney run to get the attention of NBA executives, of course.

Mac McClung, SG, Texas Tech

Key 2020-21 Stats
15.7 points per game
2.2 assists per game
0.9 steals per game
33.3 3P%

Lastly, I can’t ignore Max McClung, who wasn’t a perfect fit with Georgetown, and then pulled off a successful transfer and smashed in his first season at Texas Tech.

McClung certainly has his flaws, as he lacks ideal size and doesn’t stand out as a true point guard. He also has proven to be a streaky shooter.

However, he should have a nice future in the NBA thanks to elite athleticism, an ability to create offense with ease, and his natural scoring ability.

His talent is a big reason why Texas Tech are among the more interesting March Madness sleepers this year, too.

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At some point, McClung will need to really blow up for the NBA to take him seriously. March Madness could be the perfect vehicle for McClung to step up his playmaking, and flat out carry the Red Raiders.

Under-sized players without a true position tend to stick in round two or go undrafted. McClung has special highlight reel ability, but he’s never fully put everything together.

If he can go off for a few games and guide Texas Tech on a dream tourney run, he just might force the hand of NBA decision-makers.

Betting on March Madness in 2021

What does gauging the best players that can boost their draft stock during March Madness do for sports bettors? A lot, potentially.

The guys above (and so many others, really) can impact how you bet on March Madness, and whether or not these players shine during their tournament stays may also impact 2021 NBA Draft betting.

There are undeniably other players to watch during March Madness, but these guys are compelling when looking to this year’s draft.

One way or another, how these players fare may decide odds, as well as how bets turn out.

These are six prospects that have a good chance of hearing their name called during the 2021 NBA Draft. If they play well in the 2021 March Madness tournament, they just might be selected a lot sooner than most people think.

Looking to bet on March Madness? Check out the best March Madness betting sites before you place your bets.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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