3 potential Pelicans prospects to watch in March Madness

Jul 29, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Ziaire Williams (Stanford) walks off the stage after being
Jul 29, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Ziaire Williams (Stanford) walks off the stage after being / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hoop heads across the country are scouring over brackets, KenPom rankings, bubble snubs, and plans for the back half of this week. Personally, the NCAA Tournament is my favorite sporting event of the year and I plan to be locked in from the opening tip on Thursday afternoon through the weekend.

For Pelicans fans that don’t double dip in the college game, this is the first time many will get a look at potential prospects in the 2024 draft. As it stands, New Orleans will be picking somewhere between 20-25 in the draft. That could change based on the end of the season and playoff results, but it’s safe to expect a pick in the mid 20s. Here are three potential prospects for Pelicans fans to watch when the tournament tips on Thursday.

1. Tyler Kolek - Guard - Marquette

Kolek is the ultimate villain in the Big East. He’s a 6’3”, 195 pound pure point guard that will throw paws with anyone that stands in his way. His game revolves around tempo. His above average feel for the game can slow down his team when needed, but he can also run a fast paced, up-tempo offense. He combines quickness with a soft touch around the rim and a solid jumper to be an overall solid prospect. Kolek struggles on the defensive end and will be targeted by opposing offenses from day one. That combined with his age (23.7 on draft night) will cause him to slide down draft boards, but he’s the perfect third ball handler behind CJ McCollum and Jose Alvarado.

2. Kyle Filipowski - Center - Duke

Back-to-back college villains. Filipowski is the perfect heir apparent to free agent Jonas Valanciunas. Filipowski boasts a versatile skill set that fits the modern NBA. He stands at 7’ tall and his offensive range should extend to the three-point line with solid development. The Pelicans have history in developing shooter (Herb Jones the best example) and Filipowski’s potential would be higher in New Orleans than other places for that reason. He has anchored a solid Duke defense and moves his feet well-enough to guard multiple positions.

3. Ryan Dunn - Wing - Virginia

Dunn is Herb Jones 2.0.

They are similar prospects in that they are elite defenders with limited bags on offense. Dunn stands at a sturdy 6’8” and can guard multiple positions. It’s a rare phenomenon for a college prospect to guard at a high-level, but Dunn has done it from day one at Virginia. Dunn was the runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year and he projects as a plus defender from day one in the NBA.
On the offensive end, he is as raw as it gets. Dunn is a high-flying athlete, but is a below-average ball handler, shooter, finisher, and passer. Projecting a Herb Jones-like leap is asking too much of Dunn, but if he turns into 75% of Jones he’ll be a solid NBA role player for a long time.