3 Second-round prospects Wolves fans should get to know in the Final Four

Alabama v North Carolina
Alabama v North Carolina / Harry How/GettyImages
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The Final Four kicks off on Saturday afternoon with the NC State Wolfpack taking on the Purdue Boilermakers at 5:00 p.m. CT. Next, the Alabama Crimson Tide will battle the top-ranked UConn Huskies at 7:50 p.m. CT.

Of the four squads, more than half of the starters are seniors with the average being 21 years old. Furthermore, 12 of the 20 starters in the Final Four have transferred at least one time. In the ever-changing climate of college athletics, these veteran players should now be kept tabs on more than in years past.

Due to Name Image and Likeness (NIL), collegiate athletes are willing to stick around the college scene for longer periods of time. While drafting an 18 or 19-year-old prospect offers the most wiggle-room, there's a caveat.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has made life difficult for salary-cap-restricted teams. Subsequently, one of these teams is the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves rank 28th in salary cap this season and will be amongst the most cap-strapped squads next year.

Therefore, landing a veteran prospect in the late first or even late second round is of grave importance for Minnesota. For example, the Golden State Warriors, who rank 30th in cap space, drafted Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis in the first and second round, respectively.

Podziemski is 21 and Jackson-Davis is 24. While both players are closer to their peak than they would be entering the draft as freshmen, they're both contributing for the Warriors. Podziemski is averaging 9.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists and Jackson-Davis is up to 7.6 points in just 15.8 minutes per contest.

This past offseason, the Wolves draft ideal aligned more so with potential than readiness. Minnesota selected both Leonard Miller and Jaylen Clark in the second round. Miller, was 19 years old, while Clark was 21 at draft time, but coming off a serious injury.

This time around, expect the Wolves to prioritize upperclassmen. With more than half of the starters in the Final Four aged 21 or older, expect numerous potential recruits to make their presence felt during the last weekend of college basketball.

3. Grant Nelson, Alabama

First up is Grant Nelson, a 22-year-old senior forward. At 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, Nelson is capable of playing either forward spot or even small-ball center. This season, Nelson has averaged 11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Before Nelson transferred to Alabama, he starred at North Dakota State. In Nelson's junior season, he averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 52.1 percent from the floor.

The Crimson Tide forward offers an intriguing mix of size, dexterity, and perimeter shot-making. He's comfortable scoring with and without the ball. In Alabama's Sweet Sixteen contest against the North Carolina Tar Heels, Nelson consistently went at senior big man Armando Bacot and junior forward Harrison Ingram.

Despite weighing at least 20 pounds less than both players, Nelson used his length and body control to score at the rim. Whenever a defender failed to close out, Nelson launched it from beyond the arc without hesitation.

Although Nelson shot just 27.4 percent from 3-point range, he drilled both his attempts from deep against North Carolina. What makes the Crimson Tide forward most dangerous is his comfortability handling the ball.

Nelson is by no means a lead playmaker, but he's more than comfortable creating his own shot off the dribble. Unlike most bigs, the Crimson Tide forward has a deep bag. His crossover is impressive and his change-of-pace dribble allows him to get by his primary defender.

On defense, Nelson has proved to be switchable. He's nimble on the perimeter and possesses the requisite length to contest shots on the interior. Throughout his collegiate career, Nelson has averaged 1.4 blocks per game.