Friday's recap of NCAA players on Celtics radar

Friday's recap of NCAA players on Celtics radar
March 22, 2014, 10:15 am
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — There's a reason why they call this time of year March Madness!

The first three rounds (that includes the play-in portion of the tournament) were better than expected, filled with the usual smattering of dominant players, disappointing losses and collective disappearing acts by higher seeds that now have some of the biggest names in this past college basketball season doing what you and I have been doing the past couple of days - watching the tournament.

For the elite players, that means more time to contemplate their future plans that may very well include donning a Boston Celtics uniform next season.

Here's a recap of some players that are on the Celtics' radar leading up to the June NBA draft in which Boston will have a top-10 pick (possibly top-5) as well as a second, first-round pick that will likely fall somewhere in the teens.

Jabari Parker, F, Duke

Easily the biggest shocker thus far of the tournament has been Duke being ousted in the first round by a veteran-laden Mercer team, 78-71. Parker, a dominant force this season as a freshman, had just 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting along with seven rebounds and four of Duke's 12 turnovers.

Rodney Hood, F, Duke

It isn't hard to find a reason or two that would explain how Duke lost, but certainly the play of Hood didn't help. He finished with just six points while missing eight of his 10 shot attempts. In addition, he grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.

Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona

It wasn't pretty, but the Wildcats did exactly what a top-seed should do in the tournament out the gates - get a win. And while their 68-59 win over Weber State was indeed a roller coaster of sorts relative to their play, Gordon delivered a solid performance for one of the nation's top defenses. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, to go with eight rebounds, three assists and five blocked shots.

Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas

Kansas has had their too-close-for-comfort moments with lower seeds far too often for Jayhawks fans, and 15th-seed Eastern Kentucky proved to be no exception. However, Kansas pulled away for an 80-69 win and Wiggins' play was a big reason why. He finished with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting in addition to four rebounds and two blocked shots.

Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

Doug McBuckets did what he does best; he scored - a lot. The All-American led third-seeded Creighton to a 76-66 win over the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with an impressive double-double by halftime. He would finish with 30 points and 12 rebounds.

Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

Despite delivering a strong all-around performance, it wasn't enough as Smart and the Cowboys lost 85-77 to Gonzaga. Smart was flirting with a potential triple-double before finishing with 23 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. He also had six steals.

Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State

Like Smart, Brown had a solid game for Oklahoma State in the loss. He had 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting, in addition to chipping in three rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.

 Julius Randle, F, Kentucky

The Wildcats are peaking at the right time, and the play of Julius Randle has a lot to do with that. He led the way for Kentucky in their 56-49 win over Kansas State with a dominant inside game. He had a double-double of 19 points (14 points coming in the paint) along with 15 rebounds.

James Young, G-F, Kentucky

This was not one of James Young's finer performances, scoring just seven points on 3-for-13 shooting. He'll have to play better - a lot better - than that if they are to have any shot of knocking off top-seed Wichita State.

Willie Cauley-Stein, F, Kentucky

Very understated but important performance for Willie Cauley-Stein in the win over Kansas State. He only had two points, but he made a ton of hustle plays throughout the game. In addition to his two points, he also had eight rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots.

Kyle Anderson, G-F, UCLA

Anderson didn't have one of his better games, but he still did enough to help the Bruins move on with a 76-59 over Tulsa. The 6-foot-9 guard had eight points on 3-for-11 shooting along with six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Zach LaVine, G, UCLA.

He has NBA potential obviously, but would be best served returning to UCLA next season or possibly transferring elsewhere so he won't have to share as much playing time with fellow freshman Bryce Alford who is the son of UCLA head coach Steve Alford. In UCLA's win over Tulsa, LaVine played just 18 minutes and scored two points to go with four rebounds.