NCAA Tournament 2019: Players we may see in a Bulls uniform next season
NCAA Tournament 2019: Players we may see in a Bulls uniform next season
The Chicago Bulls are going to have a high pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and they'll be watching the NCAA Tournament closely in order to scout some of the top prospects.
The Chicago Bulls remain in prime position to snag the No. 4 spot in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery. While getting into the bottom three and securing a 14.0 percent at the No. 1 pick would be ideal, winding up at No. 4 would still give the Bulls a 12.5 percent chance at the top pick. They'd have a 48.1 percent chance of landing a top-four pick if they finish in the No. 4 slot. No matter how you slice it, the Bulls are going to wind up with a high pick, even if things don't go their way at the lottery. And with the NCAA Tournament starting up, Chicago fans will want to keep their eyes on key prospects the team will be scouting for potential selection with that first-round pick. ### Zion Williamson, Duke, 6-7, 285 lbs. ([No. 1 on ESPN's latest mock draft](http://www.espn.com/nba/insider/story/_/id/26297227/nba-mock-draft-teams-zion-morant-top-tourney-prospects)) Zion Williamson is the consensus No. 1 prospect, and he showed why with a ridiculous ACC Tournament performance after missing five games with a knee injury. Zion is having one of the best freshman seasons ever, averaging 22.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks in 29.1 minutes per game. He's shooting 69.3 percent from the field and has a player efficiency rating of 42.0. This is video game stuff: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb0HseZF5c0" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb0HseZF5c0</a> Some may have questions about where Williamson would fit with the Bulls' current core, but if they get the No. 1 pick, you take him and figure it out. Perhaps they try going with a big lineup without a traditional point guard featuring Zion, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Maybe they play Zion at small forward and bring Porter off the bench or trade him. Or maybe they trade Carter or Markkanen. ESPN's Mike Schmitz thinks Williamson could be the best 5 in the NBA in time, but he's such a freak he could have success at just about any position. Williamson is too good to pass up at No. 1, even if there's concern about fit, the jumper and how his body will hold up. Duke's tournament opener is Friday against either North Carolina Central or North Dakota State. The Blue Devils are the No. 1 overall seed thanks to a healthy Zion Williamson. ### R.J. Barrett, Duke, 6-7, 202 lbs. (No. 2) R.J. Barrett came to Duke as the No. 1 prospect before Zion vaulted past him. That's not Barrett's fault -- Williamson is that good -- and the Canadian put up monster numbers this season in his own right with 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. However, a shaky jumper, so-so defense and a tendency to get tunnel vision are things to watch out for as Barrett tries to become an NBA star. Barrett would give the Bulls another potential alpha-dog scoring option on the wing along with LaVine. If Chicago commits to an up-tempo system, Barrett and LaVine could wreak havoc together offensively in time, but the Duke product could start his career as a dynamic sixth man with Porter at the starting small forward spot. ### Ja Morant, Murray State, 6-3, 175 lbs.(No. 3) Ja Morant may play at a small school, but he's putting up astronomical numbers. An athletic freak with terrific passing skills, Morant averages 24.6 points, 10.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds at Murray State. There are concerns about his stature, jumper, defense and that whole mid-major thing, but he has cemented himself as the top point guard in this draft class: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAFR42QQRKE" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAFR42QQRKE</a> The Bulls need an upgrade at point guard with Kris Dunn stagnating, and Morant could bring star power to the position. A Morant-LaVine backcourt may be dreadful defensively, but it would be serious fun offensively. If the Bulls draft Morant, it would be smart to grab a veteran point guard as a stopgap starting option, giving the youngster time to come along. Morant and Murray State (No. 12 seed) face Markus Howard and Marquette on Thursday. ### De'Andre Hunter, Virginia, 6-7, 225 lbs. (No. 5) De'Andre Hunter suffered a wrist injury right before last year's NCAA Tournament, which helped result in Virginia's historic loss as a No. 1 seed in the opening round. Hunter returned and has turned himself into a potential top-five pick thanks to his elite wing defense and budding offensive game (15.1 PPG, 45.7 percent on 3s). While he may not have the highest ceiling, Hunter has a high floor as a 3-and-D stud. The Bulls could use a superstar with this pick, but they also simply need more good players, more defense and shooting. Hunter would be a nice backup behind Porter who could eventually take over as the starting small forward. Hunter and the top-seeded Cavaliers face Gardner-Webb on Friday. ### Cam Reddish, Duke, 6-8, 218 lbs. (No. 6) Cam Reddish has been an enigma and projects to be one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this draft. While Reddish looks the part of an ideal NBA wing and theoretically has the skill set, his production as the third wheel at Duke has been awful. He's shooting just 35.4 percent overall and 32.7 percent from 3-land, and he's averaging nearly three turnovers a game compared to fewer than two assists. He often lacks focus, aggression and toughness. A big tournament would do the youngster wonders. I wouldn't be thrilled if the Bulls wound up with Reddish, but the hope is playing in the pace-and-space NBA will unlock his game. He'd almost certainly be a bench player to start in Chciago, and he may actually struggle to get rotation minutes depending on how his transition goes. ### Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech, 6-6, 195 lbs. (No. 7) After a solid freshman season, Jarrett Culver exploded out of the gates this season and catapulted himself up draft boards. While his performance in conference play took a dip, especially his 3-point shooting (24.7 percent), he remains an intriguing option toward the top of the draft thanks to his smarts and stellar skill set. If that jumper develops, he could be solid at the next level. The Bulls could certainly use more help on the wing, and Culver looks like a safer pick than Reddish. Culver and the third-seeded Red Raiders face Northern Kentucky on Friday. ### Coby White, North Carolina, 6-5, 185 lbs. (No. 11) Coby White is viewed as the No. 3 point guard prospect in this draft behind Morant and Vanderbilt's Darius Garland, who suffered a knee injury earlier this season. White is an explosive scorer who can get buckets off the dribble, and his playmaking has come along nicely over the course of his freshman season, even if his decision-making needs work. While Morant or Garland might be likelier point guard options given where the Bulls are projected to draft, White could rise on draft boards with a big NCAA Tournament and get himself in the conversation. White could also be a top option if Chicago winds up trading back in order to secure another asset or two. The top-seeded Tar Heels are set to face Iona on Friday. ### Other notable prospects to watch - Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga - PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro, Kentucky - Nassir Little and Cameron Johnson, North Carolina - Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State (and a Chicago kid) - Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech - Tre Jones, Duke __Big Dance Challenge__: [Pick 'em contest](https://betchicago.chalkline.com/games/big-dance-first-round-challenge)2019-03-20T15:35:16.623Z2019-03-20T08:35-07:00