Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his staff were prepping for a recent home-and-home with the Chicago Bulls when they noticed a common thread on the opposing roster: By their count, more than half of the players on Chicago's roster had played in an NCAA title game.
"I think they have seven guys on their roster that played in a national championship game in college and you start talking about March Madness and you start thinking about some guys that have been successful before," Stevens said. "You put them all together and [the Bulls] are having good success."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stressed that, when his staff is evaluating college talent, he doesn't overreact to tournament performances. That said, it's sometimes helps separate players and there is something to be said for putting up big wins on the big stage.
On Monday night, Kentucky and Connecticut will meet in the 2014 men's national title game. From a Celtics standpoint, there will be interest in how the likes of Kentucky forward Julius Randle (fifth on Chad Ford's Top 100 draft prospects) and James Young (17) fare -- both players sitting in positions where the Celtics might be picking with their two first-round selections in June.
Chances are Kentucky product Rajon Rondo (and assistant coach Walter McCarty) will be very vocal at Monday's practice (Keith Bogans would be, too, if he hadn't been exiled a couple of months back) and welcoming all friendly wagers on the final college hoops game of the season.
But how did these current Celtics fare? Here's a full breakdown with help from our friends at ESPN Stats and Info ...
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
A look at how each of the players on the Boston Celtics fared during the NCAA tournament:
When it comes to the draft, talent ultimately trumps all. The Celtics, if they land a high pick in this year's draft, won't seemingly shy from picking a young player with little tournament experience.
So what are the Celtics more likely to look at than college success?
Recent picks Sullinger and Olynyk -- and let's throw rookie undrafted point guard Phil Pressey in here as well -- have grown up around the sport of basketball and with their fathers as coaches who helped mold their games. While Sullinger had a legal issue in the preseason, the Celtics have typically targeted mature players. Now, Boston hasn't shied away from the occasional risk, either. It swung and missed on the likes of Fab Melo, an extremely raw big who had academic woes at Syracuse, with the No. 22 pick in the 2012.
These young Celtics still are learning how to win this season. Despite a dismal record (the fourth worst in basketball), Boston has been competitive in many games and simply hasn't been able to pull out close games. Could some big-time NCAA experience help there? Sure, but it's also something that can be picked up on the fly at the NBA level.
Stevens was gushing about the Bulls before that recent game at TD Garden when a reporter noted that, despite the individual college success of Chicago's players, the team didn't have a coach with the NCAA title game experience of Stevens.
Stevens smiled and quipped: "Coaching is overrated."