By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As March Madness fades even further in the rearview mirror and the NBA season winds down as it ramps up for the playoffs, the convergence of the two levels appears on the horizon: the NBA Draft.

Pro teams wait for the draft lottery to see where they’ll land while college players wait for the chance make the leap to the big time.

This year the draft features an embarrassment of riches; a wealth of young talent that could potentially chance the fortunes of any team that has been struggling. Impressively, a few of those game-changing talents all come from one place.

Any NCAA basketball team would be a threat if they could boast just one player who might get drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft. However, this past season saw the Duke Blue Devils boast THREE players that could be considered for high picks.

While the draft lottery has yet to come, the Atlanta Hawks can at least count on an early pick and therefore need to start looking at Duke’s Big 3 to see which of those players might be the best fit come draft time.

R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson are all leaving college behind and should all expect to hear their names called without much time passing in between when the draft happens later in the summer.

There isn’t much more to be said about Zion Williamson that hasn’t already been said by every sports show, paper, and fan, and if the Hawks do wind up with the number one pick in the draft, it’s a no-brainer to draft his game-changing talent.

Williamson’s star power might overwhelm some of the other young and talented players the Hawks have already enlisted but John Collins and Trae Young might see his presence as a challenge and up their own games.

There’s also the chance that pulling focus away from those two might help them grow and develop without as much pressure, since they’re essentially the focal point of the team’s future plans at the moment.

In short, Zion is the best player available, and the Hawks would surely love for him to suit up in Atlanta.

If they don’t end up with the first pick in the draft and assuming that Williamson goes first, there are still two Blue Devils options available – R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.

Barrett would help the team with shot creation options, as Trae Young (and Taurean Prince, to a certain extent) is the only Hawk who seems to be able to make that happen right now.

Barrett sometimes tries for shots he doesn’t need to in an effort to win at all costs, but he could gain valuable experience handling the ball off the bench in Atlanta if he takes to Lloyd Pierce’s coaching style.

That leaves Cam Reddish.

Reddish, much more than either of his two eminently talented teammates, struggled quite heartily in his freshman season at Duke. The 19-year-old could never quite find his niche on the team, which should’ve been catch-and-shoot, three-and-D specialist, but Reddish could often be seen hurtling into traffic toward the paint, then getting called for an increasingly predictable offensive foul as defenders were sent flying as he careened into them wildly.

However, Reddish showed brilliant flashes throughout the year and made himself a legend at Duke with a pair of clutch baskets that won key games for them during the season.

He’s got enough raw, untapped potential that he will certainly get snatched up early in the draft and the Hawks might be the team that calls his name.