But not everyone. NBA scouts will be watching to see how players do on the biggest stage. The Final Four, with its top players, media attention and pressure, is the closest things can get at the college level to seeing how a player will react in the NBA.
So who will they be watching closely?
UNC’s Lawson has been racing up the draft boards through the tournament (and he wasn’t that low to start with). Right now quick point guards who can make plays in transition are popular (thanks to the NBA enforcing the no hand-check rule the last few years). At 6-0 he’s a little short by NBA standards, but he’s strong enough to counter that somewhat — he had 21 points in one half against LSU to show what he can do.
What’s more, Lawson has shored up what people said were his weak points. Everyone knew he could drive and score at the rim, but this season he shot 50% from three point range and showed he could step out to the NBA three point line and drain the shot.
Lucas is another guy who has taken a big step forward this year, and after his fantastic performance as a floor general against UConn (following another good game against Kansas) he is starting to get noticed as having draft potential. Scouts are a little slow to warm to him at just 6-0, and he hasn’t proven himself like Lawson yet — although the last game was a big start and the final game could be huge.
Lucas really plays well in the running game, something that has been largely taken away from him by the system coach Tom Izzo runs or the Spartans, But he opened it up against UConn and it worked, and certainly UNC will be more than willing to get out and run in the finals.
There are questions about how good a defender both Lawson and Lucas are, with them matched up on each other there will be a chance to show that those reputations are not deserved.
Other guys being watched include Wayne Ellington, the smooth and solid shooting guard for North Carolina. One scout recently called him an average athlete by NBA standards but everyone agrees that his shot is pretty and NBA ready. That said, his shot and every other part of his game looked unimpressive at the NBA’s pre-draft camp in Orlando last year. The championship game would be a chance to show how far he’s come.
There also is the much discussed Tyler Hansbrough, a legend at UNC but a guy most scouts seem to think will be a backup power forward and role guy at the next level. He is certainly a strong and tough player, and his offensive game has a lot of polish (you don’t become the ACC’s all time leading scorer without some skills). But at the NBA level he is a bit of a “tweener” – too small to cover opposing centers but not athletic enough to be a starting power forward. He is likely destined for late in the first round of the draft.
Two other Spartans are trying to prove they are worthy of a second-round pick – Goran Suton and Rahmar Morgan. Big games on a big stage may help some general managers think they may be worth a chance.