March Madness has begun, and I - like many of you - am looking forward to the upsets, high-risers, long-fallers, and firm-establishers that the NCAA Tournament brings to the NBA draft table. The surprises that come from the tourney, combine, and tryouts from here to draft day are some of the best parts of the basketball business.
Last season, a 21-year-old senior with the second-highest PER in the nation (behind only the gaudy statline of the #1-seeded-school captain) emerged from small-town stardom at his mid-major school to national stardom in the NBA. Here, his undeniable talent, and the confidence that 4 years of his team's dependance upon him had bred, would find as smooth a transition to the professional level as any rookie in recent memory has enjoyed.
This season, there is a 21-year-old senior with the second-highest PER in the nation (behind only the gaudy statline of the #1-seeded-school captain), enjoying small-town stardom at his mid-major school as he again has led his team to the NCAA Tournament. His averages of 19ppg, 11.2rpg, 2.4bpg, and 2.3apg give him a PER of 36.34, and his 6' 11", 240 lb. frame gives him the physical tools to duplicate at the professional level.
Might Mike Muscala be the Damian Lillard of the 2013 draft?
It is a generally-accepted rule that big men take longer to mature in the NBA, but it is not gospel. Given playing time, I think Muscala's maturity, confidence, and skill could spell a real steal - even as soon as his rookie year - for whomever takes a chance on the mid-major star.