At this point, the Knicks look like a lock to be picking in the top four of the 2015 NBA Draft -- depending on how the lottery balls bounce. Three of the four most likely players to go No. 1 overall in the draft should get plenty of televised exposure during conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. (The fourth, Emmanuel Mudiay, skipped college to play one year professionally in China.)
For Knicks fans who are tiring of watching the team flounder, mostly with players who aren't expected back next season, here's a look at three freshman to watch during March Madness -- one of which could be wearing blue and orange by the fall.
At 6-11 and 270 pounds, Okafor shouldn't worry about being pushed around at the NBA level. He's averaging 17.8 points, 9.4 boards and 1.5 blocks in 30.7 minutes for the No. 3 Blue Devils.
Although not an elite athlete in the mold of Anthony Davis, Okafor figures to be a more of a traditional center in the NBA. When forced to make a comparison, he could become a more offensively skilled and slightly more athletic version of Roy Hibbert.
Coming from the NBA's Triple A school, Towns already is being groomed for his NBA career. The 6-11, 250-pound center for the unbeaten Cougars plays just 20.5 minutes per game, posting 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. That only makes his 2.3 blocks per game more impressive, though.
Towns isn't as NBA-ready as Okafor, but he may have a higher ceiling. As long as Knicks fans are patient -- if Phil Jackson drafts him -- he figures to be a future All-Star center.
The one non-big man of the trio, Russell is making waves for the No. 23 Buckeyes. The big point guard (6-5, 180 pounds) is averaging 19.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists and has boosted his draft stock steadily this season.
The do-it-all nature of his play makes him an intriguing option for the Knicks, who certainly will want a floor general that can score in an increasingly guard-centric league.