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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Updated: March 19, 10:46 AM ET
Who to watch in Midwest Regional

By Chad Ford
ESPN.com

Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill has a chance to show his big-man skills in the tournament.

ESPN.com has talked to multiple NBA scouts and GMs during the course of the season to give you a look at the top five NBA prospects they'll be watching in each NCAA tournament region.

Midwest Regional NBA prospects

1. Jordan Hill, PF, Jr., Arizona

The good: A terrific rebounder and an emerging offensive force, Hill has been one of the top two or three power forwards in the country this season. He has length, athleticism, quickness and a terrific motor. He also has shown the ability to play through injuries.

The bad: Hill needs to add strength and some go-to moves on the offensive end. Also, his basketball IQ isn't terrific for a junior, as he still makes a lot of mistakes on the court.

The upside: The dearth of big men in this year's draft has really helped his stock. He currently projects as a top-five pick and could seal the deal if he comes up big against Utah in the opening round of the tournament.



2a. Jeff Teague, PG, So., Wake Forest
2b. Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Fr., Wake Forest
2c. James Johnson, PF, So., Wake Forest

The good: Teague has been terrific as both a distributor and a scorer this season. He has proved he can be an excellent slasher and a dangerous shooter.

Aminu has the most raw talent of the three. He is long and athletic and can really get up and down the floor.

Johnson is the most intriguing of the group. He is very skilled for a big man and has the combination of athleticism and toughness that NBA scouts love.

The bad: Teague is still trying to prove he can be a full-time point guard in the pros. His instinct is to look for his own shot first.

Aminu is still raw offensively, and it's hard to get a read on what position he'd play in the pros. Johnson is erratic -- looking like a lottery pick one minute and a bust the next -- and his shot selection still could use a lot of work.

The upside: Wake Forest has the most talented young players in the country. And when they click, the Demon Deacons are as tough as any team in the country. If they go deep in the tournament, head coach Dino Gaudio might lose all three players to the draft. All three could be top-10 picks.

(The good news for Wake Forest fans is Gaudio has even more talent in reserve. Freshmen Tony Woods and Ty Walker both have lottery potential and should be able to step in and help this team next season if Teague, Aminu and Johnson all leave.)



3. DeMar DeRozan, G/F, Fr., USC

The good: Perhaps the most athletic wing in the draft, DeRozan is jaw-dropping in the open court. His explosive leaping ability, quickness and NBA strength are outstanding for a freshman.

The bad: He has been very inconsistent this season -- his jump shot hasn't been falling, and he doesn't take over the game as one would expect, given his talent. DeRozan appears to be more athlete than basketball player.

The upside: DeRozan has been terrific of late. He led USC to the Pac-10 tournament title and outplayed James Harden in the final game. If he can keep it up in the NCAA tournament, and if USC can snag an upset win or two, DeRozan's stock will skyrocket. He has all the raw tools to be a great NBA player. Teams have just been waiting for him to put it all together.



4. Cole Aldrich, C, So., Kansas

The good: One of the few true centers in the draft, Aldrich is quite skilled for a big man. He has nice footwork in the paint and a strong 15-foot jumper. He also has proved to be a very good rebounder and shot-blocker, as well as an impressive passer out of the block.

The bad: Aldrich isn't an elite athlete, and his game still needs polish. He also makes a lot of mistakes on both ends of the floor and can be inconsistent.

The upside: Another year of college would be ideal, but it looks as though he'll be a lock for the lottery -- and even a potential top-10 pick -- if he can help Kansas go deep in the tournament. There just aren't many big men better than Aldrich in college basketball right now.



5. Earl Clark, F, Jr., Louisville

The good: Clark can really fill up a box score when he gets it going. Long and athletic, he is an excellent passer, rebounder and defender. And he can play three or four positions on the floor.

The bad: He is very inconsistent, and his versatility can be a problem. It's tough to figure out which position he'll thrive at in the pros. Offensively, he needs to continue to work on his jumper, especially from longer distances.

The upside: Clark is one of the toughest guys in the draft to gauge. When he's on, he's great. When he's off, he's terrible. Teams will be watching him closely to see what he does under the pressure of the tournament. If he helps lead Louisville deep into the tournament as he did last year, he'll be selected among the lottery picks, or perhaps among the top 10. If he struggles, however, he'll probably be a mid-first-round pick.

Others to watch: Evan Turner, G/F, So., Ohio State; B.J. Mullens, C, Fr., Ohio State; Terrence Williams, G/F, Sr., Louisville; Samardo Samuels, PF, Fr., Louisville; Chase Budinger, G/F, Jr., Arizona; Sherron Collins, PG, Jr., Kansas; Tyshawn Taylor, G, Fr., Kansas; Devin Ebanks, F, Fr., West Virginia; Tony Woods, C, Fr., Wake Forest; Da'Sean Butler, F, Jr., West Virginia; Alex Ruoff, G, Sr., West Virginia; Kalin Lucas, PG, So., Michigan State; Durrell Summers, G, So., Michigan State; Raymar Morgan, F, Jr., Michigan State; Luke Nevill, C, Sr., Utah; Tyrese Rice, PG, Sr., Boston College; Taj Gibson, PF, Jr., USC; Daniel Hackett, PG, Jr., USC; Chris Wright, SF, So., Dayton

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.