This Final Four was a marked improvement over last year’s brick-laying, bore-fest in Houston and surpassed even Butler’s magical run in Indianapolis two years back.
Anthony Davis served notice that he will be the NBA’s next superstar, his teammates showed they’ll be pretty good too and John Calipari finally knocked King Kong off of his back.
As we wrap up a fun week, here are some items of note:
Several players impacted their draft status over the course of the Final Four and the tournament as a whole.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: “As long as we’re winning I’m fine. I can score zero points as long as we win, I’m happy.”
That was Davis BEFORE the title game. You can’t really raise up higher than No. 1 but Davis showed that he can control games even if all he is doing offensively is facilitating. He set a career high for assists in the title game and helped hold Kentucky’s opponents to rock-bottom field goal percentages.
He’s the sure-fire top dog and a future superstar who in time will be able to play every frontcourt position.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: His own harshest critic, MKG made the most important of Kentucky’s 11 blocks against Kansas and guarded everyone from point guards to power forwards effectively during the tournament. Think Gerald Wallace meets Ron Artest. There won’t be five guys in the NBA that play harder than this kid. Like Wallace, at times it is almost too much, he hits the floor hard almost every game.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas: Forget the bad first halves two games in a row, Robinson is a human pogo stick who showed his mettle later in games.
Calipari certainly is impressed:
“He is as good as they get, he’s a vicious competitor, great around the rim, expanded his game.” Robinson will need to expand it even more — with a consistent jumper he’d be fantastic — and is a bit undersized, but his athleticism is elite, which helps make up for that a bit.
“I didn’t want people to guess and be like: ‘I think you can play. We’ve seen glimpses.’ I wanted to come back and prove to everybody that I’m a good player,” Robinson said.
Mission accomplished. He’ll go in the top six.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky: At times he was more impactful even than Davis and MKG. Shut down Robinson in the first half on Monday and flashed all-around offensive game. Needs to play for the right NBA coach, but if he does, he can be an all-star.
Marquis Teague, Kentucky: More good moments than bad for the freshman. With another year he’d become excellent, but draft lacks point guards so he could go in top 20.
Doron Lamb, Kentucky: Only Kentucky player to reach double-digits in all six tourney games and went 20-for-36 from three for the tournament. Could add up to a first round selection.
Jeff Withey, Kansas: Blocked 31 shots, tied with Davis for the most in tourney history and is at least a second rounder at this point. Says he’ll stay another year and could crack top 20 with continued improvement.
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Sure, he was hurt, but look at how poorly UNC did without him. Not an elite athlete at NBA level, but a true floor general who will excel in an up-tempo system.
Others: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh; Cody Zeller, Indiana, James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Royce White, Iowa State.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Rebounded and defended quite well, but struggled mightily against taller opponents (particularly Withey, but, then again, so did Davis). Was pushed out of his comfort zone and took some bad shots. Still a lottery pick, but not a top 6 or 7 guy like he would have been a year ago.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina: Similar story, except his team didn’t get as far and he was much worse than Sullinger. Will put horrific tourney behind him and go in top 10, but last year he was consensus second or third pick.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse: His teammates wouldn’t pass him the ball and the Montrealer never really took charge and forced the issue. Once seen as a first round lock, now he’s likely a second round pick.
Perry Jones III, Baylor: So much talent, but hasn’t been able to put it all together. Will go in the lottery based on upside, but might get a coach or general manager or two fired over the course of his career.
Jeremy Lamb, UCONN; Bradley Beal, Florida.
The tourney should be in New Orleans every year. What an atmosphere … Calipari dismissed talk he would leave Kentucky to take over the New York Knicks, but many media members aren’t buying it … Bill Self is a top 5 NCAA coach. The job he did with Kansas was phenomenal. They had no business being in the championship game … Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear is a star in the making. Maybe a top 10 pick one day … Congrats go out to Kentucky reserve Kyle Wiltjer, who joins a select group of Canadians to win an NCAA championship.
FINAL FOUR BOX
200 - Number of countries Final Four was broadcast in, a 75% jump since 2004.
1,566 - The record number of credentialed media. The Toronto Sun and TSN were the only Canadian outlets among that group.
152 - Number of games for Kentucky’s Darius Miller, a school record.
3 - Number of years in a row four different conferences made the Final Four.
4 - Number of freshmen to win Most Oustanding Player after Anthony Davis did it.
0 - The amount of money John Calipari earned as an unpaid assistant with Kansas from 1982-84.
2 - How many championship members in past 25 years to be first pick of NBA Draft which Davis will do, joining Kansas’ Danny Manning.
14 - Kansas’ half-time deficit against Kentucky, its largest of the season.
59 - The season-low in points Kentucky held Kansas to.
8 - Number of titles the Wildcats now have, second to UCLA’s 11.
38 - Number of wins for Kentucky on the season, an NCAA record
11 - Blocked shots by Kentucky, a record for a championship or Final Four game.
144,276 - Number of patrons in attendance, the third-largest in Final Four history.
24.66% - (37-150) Second-half shooting percentage of Kansas opponents in final five games of tournament.