The NBA season has already given us a couple of surprises from the Spurs in the form of wins over Philly and the lowly Pacers. However, if the Spurs revert to the form they’re expected to take in a tanking team, then college basketball might be more enjoyable for you. Yes, you want to see some development, but there could be reinforcements coming from the collegiate ranks with these college basketball prospects.
There is rightfully tons of hype around Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, especially after their series of exhibition games earlier in the month. However, if the Spurs continue to rack up some unexpected wins, it may behoove you to look at some other prospects available in the 2023 NBA Draft.
There are quite a few teams in the college ranks who will not only be fun to watch but should also have quite a few potential NBA Draft picks. If you need some non-Scoot and non-Wembanyama entertainment, look no further.
Teams With The Top College Basketball Prospects
The Duke Blue Devils are always talented, but these might be the most draft picks sitting on one team and that includes the five Duke players who were drafted last year! Under new coach Jon Scheyer, this year’s team features several five-star recruits and a couple of guys under the radar who could make their way up draft boards. The biggest names for Duke this year are Dereck Lively II, Dariq Whitehead, and Kyle Filipowski. However, Tyrese Proctor was reclassified from the 2023 recruiting class and could prove himself a first-rounder as well as forward Mark Mitchell. Four-star guard Jaden Schutt may not be a 2023 prospect, but he will be someone to watch for in 2024 for sure.
The Razorbacks potentially have three top-20 picks in their stable right now including all five-star guys in Anthony Black, Jordan Walsh, and Nick Smith. Black is a tall guard at 6-foot-7 while Smith is a true scorer who’s growing his knack for team playmaking. Walsh might be the most intriguing player at 6-foot-7 who plays more forward and does just about everything. If they can mesh under coach Eric Musselman, this team could be scary good.
The Wildcats are loaded as usual with the reigning National Player of the Year in Oscar Tshiebwe returning for a senior season. They also bring back a healthy CJ Fredrick, who should help space the floor as a legitimate shooter. But we can’t forget that Coach Calipari also brought in two top-15 players in Cason Wallace (guard) and Chris Livingston (forward) as well as some Tshiebwe insurance in the form of four-star center Ugonna Onyenso. They also have the hoppy brother of Obi Toppin in Jacob Toppin and still have former top recruits in Lance Ware and Daimion Collins shoring up the bench.
The Wildcats will be worth watching for nothing else if not the pressure on them and Calipari to win a second title. They haven’t been quite as successful as they hoped since clinching the 2012 title with the transcendent Anthony Davis anchoring that team.
The Bulldogs continue to dominate the West Coast Conference and bring in top transfer and underclassmen in the process. Coach Mark Few and his staff have produced some top draft picks and players like Chet Holmgren, Jalen Suggs, Domantas Sabonis, Kelly Olynyk, and others. They don’t have any star power quite like that on this year’s roster, but there will be some players who get serious draft consideration and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Julian Strawther is likely the Zags’ best draft prospect at this stage, but look for Hunter Sallis to improve his stock as a sophomore. Nolan Hickman should get the opportunity to shine as he won’t be playing behind Andrew Nembhard anymore and the Zags brought in two key transfers. Malachi Smith comes from Chattanooga and former five-star recruit, Efton Reid comes from LSU in hopes of proving himself worthy of being drafted. These guys of course are all here to help potential Player of the Year, Drew Timme (the mustache GAWD) get a well-deserved national title after falling short the last couple of years.
The Cougars made a fantastic run to the Elite Eight last season and bring back a couple of key pieces in hopes of doing it again. Guard Marcus Sasser should solidify himself as an NBA prospect this season along with two freshmen who could find themselves getting drafted earlier than expected. Five-star forward Jarace Walker will be a beast defensively and should have the chance to show what he can do on offense. Meanwhile, four-star guard Terrance Arcenaux could turn out to be a bit of a sleeper recruit. He’s been gushed about endlessly by the coaching staff at Houston and by recruiting analysts since he committed to UH last November.
There are some sleepers to be aware of for this draft, but the Spurs will likely have a top-10 pick so that will come into play for second-rounders or any picks acquired via trade. There are also some great early-season tournaments that you can watch to get a good look at many teams that wouldn’t otherwise play each other. Having so many Power 6 teams play each other always shows how these kids will play with big-time pressure and can give a great idea of what to expect in conference play for these players.
What teams do you believe have the best college basketball prospects?