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Utah Jazz: 2014 NBA Draft prospects play big at NCAA Elite 8

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The Utah Jazz continue to free fall in the NBA standings, setting the team up for a high lottery pick at the 2014 NBA Draft -- as well as for two more picks at Nos. 23 and 34 if the Jazz keep both of those.

Meanwhile, the NCAA Elite 8 concluded in grand fashion on Sunday, March 30. Three of four games went down to the wire, the most memorable being Wisconsin’s overtime upset of No. 1 seed Arizona.

The Badgers continued an improbable run, knocking off the Wildcats with three-point shooting 7-footer Frank Kaminsky-- and stingy defense.

No. 8 Kentucky’s narrow win over No. 2 Michigan came in a close second -- as those Wildcats got the job done without center Willie Cauley-Stein and with its fabulous freshmen cast that soon will be headed for the NBA.

Not all of the “winners” actually won during the Elite 8 -- but they did move up the draft boards, which is a win in and of itself.

Here's how they did at the NCAA Elite 8.

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin Jeff Gross

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

First of all, where did this guy come from? Kaminsky isn’t even on this draft board for starters. The 7-footer showed a range of skills uncommon for a big man.

He can splash threes, and bull his way inside for quick buckets. He poured in 28 points and had 11 rebounds in the Badgers’ 63-62 overtime win over Arizona.

Nick Johnson, Arizona
Nick Johnson, Arizona Jeff Gross

Nick Johnson, Arizona

Johnson is going to be a solid late first-round/early second-round choice -- someone the Jazz might consider at No. 23 because he can do one thing very well: shoot three-pointers.

He didn't knock down treys like our boy Kaminsky, but Johnson had 16 points and four rebounds in the Wildcats swan song versus Wisconsin -- and even scored all 16 before the last two minutes of the game. Now that's progress. 

Julius Randle, Kentucky
Julius Randle, Kentucky Jonathan Daniel

Julius Randle, Kentucky

If anyone is playing their way into the Jazz’ heart -- especially considering how poorly the Jazz bigs are playing right now -- it’s Randle. He had another double-double in Kentucky’s Elite Eight win over Michigan, 16 points and 11 boards.

It doesn’t matter what you throw at this guy; he simply shows up with a lunch pail and goes to work. And that hard work should parlay into a high lottery pick.

Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Nik Stauskas, Michigan Andy Lyons

Nik Stauskas, Michigan

Stauskas wasn’t even considered a threat to make it into the draft lottery before the NCAA Tournament -- but if you’re an NBA team you’d better consider him now.

The questions about the Canadian not being able to create his own shot were just that, hearsay. Stauskas has more than proven he can take it to the rim. He had 24 points against Kentucky in a loss -- most of which came from his willingness to take on Kentucky’s bigs.

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut Bruce Bennett

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

Nobody seems convinced Napier can play in the NBA -- but he certainly is playing his way into being considered for an early second-round pick. 

The Jazz have one at No. 34 -- and Napier could be someone Utah puts in the D-League for seasoning. Though he is a point guard -- and the Jazz already have two -- Utah would be foolish not to consider a senior that can get his own shot. He had 25 points in UConn’s win over Michigan State.

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