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A Knicks fan’s guide to the Sweet Sixteen: Midwest & South Regions

Nas, the first president, and an Admiral walk into a bar...

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Howdy, y’all! I know Stingy gave y’all the tour of the East and West sections of the NCAA Sweet Sixteen yesterday, but I’m here to break down the rootinest, tootinest got dang regions on both sides of the Mississippi, the Midwest and South. And boy howdy am I about as happy as a pig in shit to do so! Yee-haw!

*removes 10-gallon hat*

Alright, that’s about enough of that. So how about we check out a few more prospects? Of course, if you didn’t check out our opening weekend tournament coverage, feel free to do so now. I won’t double up on any of the fine prospects that my compadre already told you about. Let’s get into some new pups:

Nassir Little, #5

(1) North Carolina, Freshman Small Forward

Little came into this season with quite a bit of hype as a potential top-10 pick in the draft, but failed to convert that hype into actual production on the basketball court. The frosh is averaging a rather uninspiring 10 points per game on .485/.280/.778 shooting splits, but he’s been in his bag so far during the tournament, averaging a robust 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game on .708 shooting from the floor.

So this kid may be heating up at just the right time to force himself back into the lotto conversation, based off of his carryover high school hype. Our friends over at Tar Heel Blog broke down Little’s second performance of the tournament against Washington from this past weekend, and the general takeaway was that it seems like Little has finally “found” himself during a personally trying season at just the right time.

Much like Cam Reddish at Duke, who showed up in Stingy’s East/West preview, Little could probably use a second season at the college level to sort out the kinks in his game. Also just like Reddish, he’s likely going to declare for the draft and go somewhere in the first round on the back of his high school hype, because he’s shown enough flashes that some decision-maker for an NBA team will take a shot. As far as the Knicks are concerned, I wouldn’t say it’s all that likely that Little ends up in New York unless the Knicks decide to trade waaaaay back or trade back into the mid-to-late first round. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least check the kid out while you’re watching Coby White.

PJ Washington, #25

(2) Kentucky Wildcats, Sophomore Forward

Washington hasn’t played yet in the tournament due to injury, and while UK has obviously gotten this far without him just fine, he’s going to be key to whether they can potentially make a Final Four run out of the UNC-led South bracket.

Washington’s really intriguing. He’s established himself really well this year as a guy that can score at all three levels. He flashes some really nifty moves around the basket sometimes, and he has a nice elbow jumper and a much-improved 3-pointer (.419 on 2.2 attempts per game this year vs. .236 on 0.6 attempts a year ago). He’s also a good, switchable defender, and he’s a pretty good passer for his position.

Based off that description he kinda sounds like a guaranteed lotto talent, but his motor and size could be things that hold him back at the NBA level. The kid has all the ability in the world, but his drive is called into question pretty often (sounds kind of like another former Kentucky player on the Knicks in a way, no?). Washington also doesn’t really look like he has a star turn in his NBA future — more than likely, he could carve out a role as a really solid role player. Like Little and a number of other guys that are worth watching at this stage of the tourney, he’s probably only a candidate to be a Knick if they trade back into the first round.

Admiral Schofield, #5

(2) Tennessee Volunteers, Senior Thiccboi Forward

Admiral Schofield, on top of having a name that would probably win a bracket of “Best names of March Madness 2019,” seems like a pretty interesting NBA prospect. He’s just 6’5”, but my dude is a BIG 240-plus pounds and built like a brick shithouse. Just like Grant Williams in Stingy’s South Region preview, check out how Tennessee’s workout regimen has transformed Admiral:

Where’s the beef? Oh, all over Admiral Schofield’s body. Found it!

Schofield has a nice jumper, hitting .415 from three this season. He’s physical and rebounds well, and he’s a decent passer too. On top of that, he’s a vicious defender that, in college, can guard almost any position. In the NBA, he could probably guards 3s and 4s without much issue, as long as his length doesn’t hold him back too much. Motor is also never a question with this dude, which will have to be the case if he hopes to make an impact in the NBA at his relatively diminutive height.

Honorable mention to Payton Pritchard over at Oregon, the guy running the show for the only true Cinderella in this tourney (although even that’s debatable, because Oregon was, in my opinion, criminally under-seeded). In the six games from the Pac-12 tournament to present, Pritchard has been averaging 17 points, 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals for the Duckies. This dude could have a little TJ McConnell in him.

So there ya go, folks! Hope you’re all ready for the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Drink one for me this weekend.