It's March Madness, baby! It's the big stage for some of college basketball's best players to show off their games. NBA scouts and general managers will be out in force the next few weeks scouting everyone in the Big Dance.
Rightly or wrongly, a great March can really help a player's stock. NBA GMs, the real decision-makers come draft time, are in attendance and tend to be swayed by what they see on the big stage.
Last year, Syracuse's Dion Waiters boosted his stock with a few big tourney performances. In 2011, UConn's Kemba Walker and Arizona's Derrick Williams improved their stocks with great runs. In 2010, Butler's Gordon Hayward, Ekpe Udoh and Jordan Crawford helped their causes with terrific tournament performances. In 2009, Tyreke Evans and Jonny Flynn rode strong tournament performances to high lottery picks. In 2008, Derrick Rose moved past Michael Beasley on most NBA teams' boards with an excellent performance and players such as Russell Westbrook and Brandon Rush helped themselves with strong tournament play, as well.
In years past, Florida's Al Horford and Joakim Noah, LSU's Tyrus Thomas, Illinois' Deron Williams, Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, Marquette's Dwyane Wade, Maryland's Chris Wilcox, Arizona's Richard Jefferson, Florida's Mike Miller, Miami (Ohio)'s Wally Szczerbiak and Connecticut's Richard Hamilton helped their draft position significantly in March.
Who will take advantage of the national stage in this year's NCAA tournament to supercharge his draft stock?
This year, there is a dearth of elite prospects in the West Region. Only one player is considered a potential lottery pick and one other looks like a lock for the first round. Still, there are hidden gems in this region if you look hard enough.
ESPN.com has talked to multiple NBA scouts and GMs over the course of the season to give you a look at the top NBA prospects they'll be watching in each NCAA region.
Lottery pick: Kelly Olynyk, C, Jr.
Potential second- rounder: Elias Harris, F, Sr.
Wait 'til next year: Przemek Karnowski, C, Fr.; Kevin Pangos, PG, So.
All eyes will be on Olynyk. He has risen from obscurity to a potential lottery pick with his play this season. He has dominated the West Coast Conference, but the real test will come against elite talent from other conferences. His first true challenge could come against Pitt in the second round (assuming both teams make it there). Steven Adams is raw, but he's a tough, physical defender.
Harris is another player to watch closely. Scouts saw him as a potential first-round pick as a freshman. Now he's a borderline second-round pick.
To read Chad Ford's article on the top NBA prospects in the West Region, sign up for Insider today.