UConn connection fulfilling promise

Updated: March 14, 2005, 2:33 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
  • Chat Wrap: Chad Ford

    March Madness is the time of year when national championships are won -- and NBA stars are made.

    Last year, a number of the NBA's top rookies were battling it out at the Big Dance. One year later, a number of them appear to be on track for NBA stardom. The 2004 NBA draft is starting to look like one of the deepest ever.

    It shouldn't come as any surprise that four of the five best rookies in the NBA had big NCAA Tournaments. Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, the two leading candidates for Rookie of the Year, won a national championship together.

    Gordon averaged 21.2 ppg in the tournament, and Okafor, playing with a bad back, averaged 13.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 2.2 bpg.

    Luol Deng had 17.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg as a freshman leading Duke to the Final Four. Andre Iguodala had a breakout 19-point performance despite Arizona's disappointing finish.

    Other big players included Jameer Nelson and Delonte West of Saint Joseph's and Stanford's Josh Childress.

    But just to show that a strong NCAA performance doesn't guarantee success in the NBA, don't forget that BYU's Rafael Araujo rode a strong 24-point, 12-rebound tournament performance right into the lottery. He hasn't come close to duplicating that once in the NBA.

    New stars will emerge from the NCAA Tournament this year. With the NBA season winding down, how are last year's stars faring in the NBA?

    Insider breaks down the Good, Bad and Upside of the 2004 NBA rookie class.

    Chad Ford

    ESPN Senior Writer