Michigan sophomore guard Jordan Poole put himself on the map with his heroics in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
This time around, Poole has a shot to become more than just a part of March Madness lore.
According to Sports Illustrated, Poole is one of five NBA prospects whose stock could rise the most during the postseason and alter the shape of the draft with strong play.
“While Michigan has tailed off a little bit since a dominant start to the season, they are still a team nobody will want to face in the tournament,” Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo writes. “As a defensively brilliant team that sometimes struggles to score the ball, Poole’s perimeter play has been a major swing factor in their success. Dating back to last season as a bit player, the sophomore has generally been pegged as someone who is talented enough to force the NBA’s hand, but he’s also frustrated scouts with his habitual inconsistency.”
Poole, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.9 points, leads Michigan by a wide margin in both 3-pointers made (62) and attempted (164) and ranks third in shooting beyond arc at 37.8 percent. The Wolverines are 9-1 in games where he has made at least three deep balls.
But after being one of Michigan’s most consistent players toward the end of the non-conference schedule, Poole’s numbers have fluctuated since Big Ten play resumed in early January. Due to a mix of increased attention, unnecessary long attempts and tough shot selection, he’s shooting 29.2 percent from 3-point range and averaging 12.4 points on 10.8 shot attempts over the last 17 games.
And despite doubling nearly every statistical category from a year ago, Woo writes Poole’s “big breakout hasn’t quite happened this season.”
“He’s a bit of an incomplete picture, functioning almost entirely in catch-and-shoot and sometimes looking uncomfortable playing off the bounce," Woo writes. "But he has the type of athletic build that projects well defensively, and the sort of skill set where you can see him succeeding in the right role long-term if he keeps working at it.
“Poole has enough going for him that a hot shooting string of games might be enough to move the needle this year. He’s gifted enough that it’s easy to see a team taking the plunge, and this month will be his chance to press the issue.”
Poole ranks No. 66 in ESPN’s top 100 NBA Draft prospects, but his name hasn't appeared in any major mock drafts.
North Carolina’s Coby White, Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji, Utah State’s Neemias Queta and Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton rounded out Sports Illustrated’s list.