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Around College Basketball: Fourth Edition

March Madness is here. Which players should be on your radar?

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The second half of the NBA regular season has started, meaning the trade deadline is quickly approaching. The Sixers are in an interesting spot; they can go after a big name on the trade market such as Kyle Lowry or Zach LaVine, or sit pat with the picks and players they already have. Should they decide to make a move, the first thing going the other way is their first-round pick in this year’s draft. For the time being, though, they look like they’ll be picking towards the end of the first round.

Pick Projection: 28th Overall

Players To Watch:

Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky (PF):

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Sixers are going to be in the market for a new backup power forward this offseason. While late first-round picks don’t usually come with all of the glitz and glamor of an early pick, a team with a good front office can find some difference makers. Isaiah Jackson could end up being one of those difference makers. The ultra-athletic big man from the University of Kentucky has seen his stock rise to the point that he might not even be available when the Sixers are on the clock. He doesn’t have the range of a stretch forward, so he makes up for that by constantly being around the action, making plays everywhere on the court.

On a Kentucky team that didn’t live up to lofty expectations, people didn't really talk about Jackson all that much because of the amount of other top recruits on the team. Even as a somewhat under-the-radar guy, he was a consistent source of energy and playmaking, ending his freshman season with averages of 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He’s still a raw talent, but with the right coaching staff, Jackson’s supreme talent could be unlocked.

Davion Mitchell, Baylor (PG):

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Kansas State vs Baylor Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

One of two star guards on one of the best teams in the country, Davion Mitchell has turned plenty of heads this season. An all-around talent that prides himself on his defensive capabilities, Mitchell has taken a step forward in virtually all categories as a junior leader for the Baylor Bears. The Sixers have done a better job in recent years at bringing in young talent that can run an offense, but adding one more of those guys to the fray with Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey can't hurt. Mitchell’s tight handle and willingness to let it fly from deep (career-high 47 percent from 3 this year) are two things the Sixers should be looking for in any addition. When you add in his defensive production, Mitchell looks more and more like a great fit for this team.

To put it quite simply, Davion Mitchell is a dog on defense. He never allows his opponent to get an easy shot and always seems to be the hardest-working player on the court. His quick feet and sneaky strength look like qualities that should transfer over to the NBA game and make him a quality rotation player sooner rather than later. Mitchell also has a leg up on the competition because he is a known “Kevin Rice guy.” Just ask Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle how things have gone with the support of Liberty Ballers’ resident jump-roper.

Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina (C):

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers have gotten some good production out of Dwight Howard in the role as backup center to superstar Joel Embiid, but Howard is only on a one-year deal and is no guarantee to stick around. If the Sixers want to look at getting younger at the position, one prospect they should keep an eye on is North Carolina freshman center Day’Ron Sharpe. Playing out of position for most of the year, Sharpe is a true center who is a force down low on both offense and defense. No 6-foot-11, 265-pound center should be able to run the court like Sharpe does; he constantly beats smaller players down the court to put his team in good positions to take advantage of transition opportunities.

Besides his size and transition skills, Sharpe is also great at finding open teammates. He’s unselfish, and unlike many of his other young counterparts, always has his head up looking to make a play. Averaging 10 points and eight rebounds while playing out of position and battling with upperclassmen at the same position for minutes is not an easy thing to do, and yet, Sharpe has made it seem simple.

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