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, Baylor's Ekpe Udoh and Xavier's 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?
The Midwest Region has a solid smattering of NBA draft prospects. We count three potential lottery picks and a couple of other first-rounders. It's not a huge bounty, but it's an upgrade over the West Region.
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.
First-rounder: Gorgui Dieng, C, Jr.
Potential second-rounders: Russ Smith, SG, Jr.; Peyton Siva, PG, Sr.
Wait 'til next year: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Fr.; Wayne Blackshear, G/F, So.; Chane Behanan, F, So.
Dieng has played well enough this season to get serious consideration in the first round. He's still not very polished offensively and he's old for his class, but his rebounding, shot-blocking and passing ability should help him get the nod.
Smith and Siva are both somewhat controversial picks. Smith can really score the basketball and Siva is so tough, but both have significant weaknesses.
Harrell might be the guy to watch. After he annihilated Syracuse in the Big East championship, a lot of scouts started moving him up their draft boards. He really needs another season with Rick Pitino, but a big NCAA tournament could move him into the first round.
To read Chad Ford's top NBA prospects in the Midwest Region, sign up for Insider today.