CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes claps from the bench late in the game against the George Mason Patriots during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
It's that time of year where even the loudest NBA snob turns one eye toward to the college game. For Wizards fans, this carries the extra special joy of searching for NBA Lottery talent. SB Nation DC takes a look at some of the players Washington fans can watch in the Sweet 16 while dreaming of better days for the Wizards.
As the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA bracket begins, SB Nation D.C. takes a look at the top prospects who could be sporting Wizards colors after the 2011 NBA Draft.
All the talk suggests the 2011 NBA Draft is a weak class. Blasphemy! At least it is to Wizards fans -- those NBA-watching souls for whom hope for the future rests in large part on finding a running mate for John Wall among the incoming crop of players.
Jared Sullinger, Power Forward, Ohio State
6-foot-9, 280 pounds, 19-year-old Freshman
Sullinger might not be the very best prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft, but the nation's top freshman might be the best addition for the Wizards. Perhaps DMV-area fans caught a glimpse of him against a too-small George Mason frontcourt that didn't have a chance. Sullinger finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in just 22 minutes. Yikes. With John Wall running the show, Sullinger could anchor the interior and give the Wizards a dependable scoring threat in the block, where he prefers to operate. Sullinger rebounds well, too -- unlike the Wizards.
Also, he can do this:
Watch Sullinger and Ohio State play on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET against Kentucky.
Derrick Williams, Forward, Arizona
6-foot-8, 241 pound, 19-year-old Sophomore
There seems to be some disagreement about Williams among the Internet's finest purveyors of draft analysis. NBADraft.net has Williams as it's No. 1 overall prospect, while ESPN and Draft Express have him in at No. 5 and No. 6 respectively. Is Williams a franchise centerpiece or a souped up role player? One thing Williams does do is get to the line for 8.7 FT attempts per game -- something the Wizards do not do well (No. 26 in the league in Free Throw Rate). He brings defense and rebounding, too. If the Wizards are picking at No. 4 or No. 5 and Williams is on the board, he seems like the logical choice.
Like John Wall's late-game heroics against the Nets? Check out this Derrick Williams block that saved the Wildcats from a first-round exit against Memphis.
Watch Williams and Arizona play on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET against Duke.
Harrison Barnes, Forward, North Carolina
6-foot-8, 210 pounds, 18-year-old Freshman
The only freshman on the AP Preseason All-America team, Barnes has gone from sure-fire star to bust and back this season. The lesson is probably this: Barnes' freshman year of college is not going to determine how good he is as an NBA pro. Offensively, Barnes can attack off the dribble and hit from mid-range and behind the arc. Teaming him with Wall would be fire-powerful and could bring some life back to the Verizon Center. Also, by all accounts Barnes is a willing learner and hard-worker. Those are secondary attributes to ability, but could serve the Wizards well in the rebuilding process.
Here's Barnes talking after North Carolina's recent instant-classic against Washington:
Watch Barnes and North Carolina play on Friday at 7 p.m. ET against Marquette
Terrence Jones, Forward, Kentucky
6-foot-8, 244 pounds, 19-year-old Freshman
Jones has slipped a little bit toward the bottom half of the lottery, and he has yet to truly get it going in the NCAA Tourmanent thus far. But the man is a bull, and deserves some consideration. He handles the ball well enough to succeed as a small forward in the NBA. Jones has some work to do in order to get back to a place where the Wizards would consider him in the top five, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility. Outside of the three prospects above, Jones is as a good a prospect for the Wizards as is left in the tournament. Plus he could tell John Wall what it's like to beat West Virginia in the tournament ...
Pro -- Jones is a man:
Watch Jones and Kentucky play on Friday at 9:30 ET against Ohio State.
Jimmer Fredette, Guard, BYU
6-foot-2, 195 pounds, 22-year-old Senior
OK. The Wizards are not going to spend a top five pick on Jimmer Fredette. But I didn't want to write the first NCAA Tournament feature in 2011 that did not include the word Jimmer. And you're going to be watching him anyway, right? Despite his ability to score -- especially from range -- The Jimmer would probably not fit in Washington, where Wall has the ball in his hands constantly, and one of them would have to defend the off-guard position. Besides, Jordan Crawford already fulfills the shoot-first combo guard off-the-bench role when the Wizards are healthy. Then again ... Jimmer!
There is no truth to the rumor that Jimmer once scored more points in a game than the 76 Washington put up yesterday in Portland. But check out what Jimmer did to Gonzaga to reach the Sweet 16 here:
Watch Jimmer and BYU on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. against Florida.