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Fear the Sword 2019 NBA Draft Watch Guide, weekend of Dec. 15: Prep for a packed Saturday

It’s Finals Week, so a light week of games gives way to a packed Saturday of action.

North Dakota State v Gonzaga Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

As the Cleveland Cavaliers become less watchable by the game, we’d like to offer you some alternative viewing experiences. The Cavs will almost assuredly be picking at the top of the 2019 NBA Draft, and it’ll be important to keep tabs on all of the top prospects this winter. That might be a challenge this year, as the class could have a lot of fluctuation during the season, especially outside of the top five. That can make it difficult to keep track of everyone.

But never fear — we will be here to provide your weekly watch guide to all of the top prospects. Each week, we will break out the best games of the week for NBA Draft interest, including who will be matching up and where to find the week’s top games in college basketball and Europe.

College basketball took this week off for finals, and it’s a light slate of weekday action. But there is still a massive Saturday slate of games, headlined by a former national championship game rematch and some high-profile matchups involving midmajor draft prospects.


Villanova vs. Kansas - 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Villanova: Eric Paschall; Kansas: Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Dedric Lawson

The rematch of last year’s Final Four battle probably won’t be as entertaining this time, but the Wildcats still will give the Jayhawks a challenge. How Grimes deals with veteran Phil Booth will be interesting given Grimes’s inability to defend cutters off ball, and Dedric Lawson will get stressed in a matchup with Eric Paschall. This should be a good evaluation game for both.

Belmont vs. UCLA - 5:00 p.m. ET, PAC 12 Network

Belmont: Dylan Windler; UCLA: Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes, Moses Brown

The Bruin battle features a pretty good matchup on the wing, with the raw Kris Wilkes facing off with Windler, one of the mid-major scene’s best players. Wilkes isn’t the most polished scorer, but he does have some raw athleticism, and should provide a good test of Windler’s defensive ability if they get matched up. We know Windler can shoot (21 points per game on 53/39/74 shooting splits), but he’s pretty thin, and this will tell us a little more about how that affects him. If he plays well, he could push to the top of the second round.

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina - 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Gonzaga: Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell; UNC: Coby White, Nassir Little

The marquee game of the week should be a stressful one for North Carolina’s two top-ten prospects, as White and Little will both face massive defensive challenges in Norvell and Clarke. Clarke has been one of college basketball’s best two-way wings this season, and should be a handful for Little, who may struggle to get open against him. Meanwhile, we get a huge defensive test for Hachimura as well, as he’ll have to try to shut down Luke Maye from the elbow. He hasn’t been good defensively this year, so a good performance here would be helpful.

Georgia State vs. Kansas State - 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Georgia State: D’Marcus Simonds; Kansas State: Dean Wade

Two mid-to-late first round caliber prospects face off in Manhattan with the athletic Simonds and the versatile Wade. A good commercials game to have on in between Gonzaga/UNC and Oregon/Boise.

Boise State vs. Oregon - 9:00 p.m. ET, PAC-12 Network

Boise State: Justinian Jessup; Oregon: Bol Bol, Louis King

In addition to Bol Bol, this game will be a nice showdown between two fringe prospects trying to work their way onto the 2019 NBA Draft Board. Jessup is a useful two-way wing for the Broncos, while King has first-round potential as a small-ball four, but is battling back from a knee injury. This is probably the best chance you’ll get to see both in a competitive game.