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P.I. [Draft] Pulse: Potential Postseason Risers

Houston guard Jamal Shead. Credit: Houston Men's Basketball

In the latest edition of “P.I. Pulse”, Pro Insight’s Alex Brown and Zach Welch dive into a group of prospects that could see their NBA draft stock rise with memorable performances in March:

Heading into both conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament, the madness of March often tends to catalyze the rise and affirmation of NBA draft prospects each year. Seeing who performs and asserts themselves when the stakes are the highest, the lights are brightest, and the pressure is the heaviest can leave a lasting impression on NBA evaluators on the road to the draft process.

Below, we've outlined seven names that could generate some real draft momentum over the next few weeks.

Jamal Shead 

6’1” Guard | Houston | Senior 

Shead continues to improve across the board while guiding this year’s Big 12 Champions 

toward a potential Final Four run. This season, his AST% has gone up 10 points, his TOV% has decreased, his BLK% and STL% increased substantially, he’s shooting better both from the free throw line and behind the arc, and his BPM has more than doubled. He’s at a point in which he’s excellent at creating for himself inside the arc — with a full array of mid-range jumpers, floaters, and slashing — while also being an advanced playmaker. Defensively, he understands advanced concepts, brings a high level of intensity and can make a difference on or off the ball. Despite playing bigger than he is, his lack of size and length — as well as his 3P% remaining in the low 30s — are the biggest detriments to his draft stock. Evaluators that are higher on him might point to his 34% OTD 3-point shooting and 77% from the line as indicators of a believable shot, though. If he can lead the Cougars to a big postseason while proving that he can hang with bigger players defensively and make teams pay with his shooting, Shead has a real chance at earning an NBA contract this summer.

- Zach Welch

Johnny Furphy 

6’8” Wing | Kansas | Freshman 

A player initially expected by many to be more of a two-and-done type of prospect (at least), Johnny Furphy’s continued rise has been fueled by his hot perimeter shooting through conference play as well as his effort, feel, athleticism, and NBA archetype. With Kansas having lost 3 of their last 4 and entering into the Big 12 Tournament without Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar, Furphy will have a chance to really step up and assert himself with the additional responsibility on his shoulders. He will need to get hotter from deep after going 4/17 in his last 5 games, as well as accentuate his defensive versatility and effort. Contributing a bit more to the game as a connecting passer, as we saw at the NBA Academy Games, would be the cherry on top. Nonetheless, he has the foundational skillset to be a riser in March, especially should he put together some of his best games to date when it matters most, much less shoot and guard at a high level. The NBA Academy product’s perceived timeline has already accelerated once, initially reclassifying to 2024 before Kansas swooped in, and it may yet again if the NBA comes calling after a potential solidifying performance in the postseason.

- Alex Brown

Kansas wing Johnny Furphy. Credit: Kansas Men's Basketball

Ja’Kobe Walter 

6’5” Guard | Baylor | Freshman 

Heralded as one of the top freshmen to keep an eye on coming into the year, Walter hasn’t had quite the showing many expected of him so far in conference play, shooting under 30% from 3 in January and February after a scorching start to the season. Entering in, Walter was billed as a high-level 3-and-D player with potential untapped creation upside based on his pre-college production and shot-making, but he has yet to consistently realize that potential. That being said, his three-point volume has been excellent and he has definitely shown some intriguing shot-making on the year. Playing as one of the key pieces on one of the best teams in the country, he’s in a prime position to reclaim draft stock in the NCAA Tournament. If he shoots and defends at the level he’s capable of when it matters most, and shows more tangible creation flashes en route to a strong run in the tournament, he may find himself back near the top of draft boards.  

- Zach Welch

Alex Karaban 

6’8” Forward | UConn | RS-Sophomore

Karaban is a player that Pro Insight has been very high on for some time, as he hits on a lot of what the NBA is looking for in skilled, versatile, modern 4s. Yet, he has received little to no love from NBA draft-related media, despite being a major piece of UConn’s continued dominance. Karaban, in fact, is the only player in all of high major basketball this year to reach the illustrious 50/40/90 shooting splits, and he has done so for a team that finished the regular season at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll. Moreover, when he isn’t knocking down shots from distance, he is a very high IQ player who can also guard, rebound and screen, constantly impacting winning in one way or another. Should UConn make another deep run with Karaban continuing to have his fingerprints all over the game and hitting the 3 at a superb rate, the front-facing narrative should change in a hurry.

- Alex Brown

UConn forward Alex Karaban. Credit: UConn Men's Basketball

Devin Carter 

6’3” Guard | Providence | Junior 

After we wrote about him in last month’s draft article, Carter has been thrust into an even greater role for the Friars as they have had to adjust to playing without Bryce Hopkins in the wake of his injury. He’s now the main perimeter threat that opposing defenses are keyed into, and yet he’s still producing at a high level for himself. Since Hopkins went down, Carter is averaging 21 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, while shooting 42% from 3 and 75% from the FT line — figures that are all up from his already impressive season averages. It’s equally impressive that he’s maintained his defensive intensity and nonstop motor despite the increased offensive load. The most important aspect of his increased offensive production is that he’s being used as a creator, which makes his pro outlook even more intriguing. Providence is projected to need a strong Big East Tournament run to make it to the NCAA Tournament, so if Carter can continue his stellar two-way play and lead a shorthanded Friars squad to a tournament berth, he could establish himself firmly in mid-first round projections.

- Zach Welch

Boo Buie 

6’2” Guard | Northwestern | Gr. Senior 

Northwestern will be missing some key pieces down the stretch in Ty Berry and Matthew Nicholson, and the attention will only be more fixed on their fifth-year leader and star, Boo Buie. Buie has been nothing but superb throughout conference play, averaging 20.1 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game on 44.8/48.3/85.9 shooting splits, en route to his unanimous All-B1G First Team selection, the first in program history. The three-point marksmanship, both off the bounce and off the catch, coupled with his excellent burst and downhill facilitating is an enticing core skill set, and while he may be an older prospect that lacks ideal NBA size, there just aren’t many guards in the country playing better basketball. If he can string together a couple games of similar (or greater) quality in the B1G tournament and the NCAA Tournament despite Northwestern being short-handed, his argument for an NBA contract could be made that much stronger.

- Alex Brown

Northwestern guard Boo Buie. Credit: Northwestern Men's Basketball

Yves Missi

6’11” Big | Baylor | Freshman

As we mentioned in our December draft preview, Yves Missi’s baseline as a toolsy, athletically-gifted big with a surprisingly strong feel for the position yielded first round interest early in the year. The swing factor for him was the development of his offensive skill level. While he is still a work in progress on that end and the bulk of his value still lies in his defensive versatility, he has displayed some tangible skill flashes. Throughout the season, we have seen him gradually look to explore his skillset, especially as a slasher and an advanced screener. Dating back to the 2022 CrossRoads Elite Invitational and Pangos All-American Camp, we’ve seen him experiment with his ball skills, but seeing him comfortable enough to further expand this aspect of his game while playing in the Big 12 shows substantial growth — both in his confidence and that of Baylor’s in his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways at this level. While his playmaking still has a ways to go, if Missi helps lead his team on a postseason run while continuing to showcase his ball skills and produce as a two-way rim presence, he could find himself selected closer to the top of the draft than many may have expected before the season.

- Zach Welch


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