5 must-watch NCAA Tournament basketball players headed to the NBA

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The NCAA Tournament tips off with the excitement of underdog universities vying for wins against their much-ballyhooed opponents.

March Madness isn’t just about upsets and long shots going deep into the NCAA Tournament. It is about good college basketball players becoming great and rising to the occasion of the ‘Big Dance’. Fans have been debating which teams will make it to the Final Four.

March Madness is often an audition for the NBA Draft. The five players below are on their ways to the NBA, but before the draft in June, they will put on a show in the NCAA Tournament.

5. De’Andre Hunter – Virgina

De’Andre Hunter improved his points per game in 2019 by 5.9. It helped the Virginia Cavaliers claim a share of the ACC Conference title alongside North Carolina. Virginia lost just three times all season and go into the NCAA Tournament as a dark horse to win it all. Hunter’s ability to create shots for teammates has made him a potential NBA Draft Lottery Pick. Will he go in the top 5? A strong March Madness will help his cause.

4. Grant Williams – Tennessee

Grant Williams was an undervalued high school basketball player. He was overlooked by university programs due to his body type. But Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was unphased and signed Williams up at Tennessee. Williams has now won two SEC Player of the Year award as Tennessee have become one of the best teams in the nation. Williams averaged career highs in points this year with 19.0 ppg and 6.5 rebounds.

3. Jarrett Culver – Texas Tech

Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver increased his scoring by 7.3 ppg in 2018-19. Culver was a role player during his freshman year in Lubbock, but transformed into a must-watch player in his sophomore season. Culver’s play landed him the Big 12 Player of the Year award in 2019. The Red Raiders finished 26-6 in the regular season and captured a share of the Big 12 Conference title.

2. Zion Williamson – Duke

Zion Williamson is a basketball freak. The 18-year-old is set to be the NBA Draft’s No. 1 pick in June thanks to his impressive freshman season at Duke. Williamson averaged 22.1 ppg, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29 games. He picked up the ACC Player of the Year award as he led the Blue Devils to the ACC Tournament title. Williamson is the player to watch at this year’s tournament. He has the potential to sway the title in Duke’s favor when on the floor.

1. R.J. Barrett – Duke

If Williamson was Duke’s No. 1, then fellow freshman R.J. Barrett was their No. 1A. The Canadian shooting guard was just as valuable to the Blue Devils’ season as Williamson. Barrett received USA Today’s National Player of the Year award which shows Williamson isn’t Duke’s only star. He averaged 22.9 ppg, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Barrett is considered a top 5 NBA Draft prospect. Some NBA insiders believe a solid NCAA Tournament could make Barrett the No. 1 pick in June.