We all now know that the Duke Blue Devils might have the most talented roster in college basketball, and that is despite losing Coach K to retirement! What fans may not know is that Arkansas likely has the second-strongest roster as far as NBA Draft talent goes. The Razorbacks brought in three players who were rated as five-star guys. They also added another three who were rated as four-stars to go along with five other transfers.
While it’s obvious those five-star guys could get drafted — and all three are projected first-rounders — any one of the transfer or other freshmen could play themselves into the second round. Here are those three players likely going in the first round for the Razorbacks with their 247Sports composite ranking in parentheses.
Potential Razorback Draftees in 2023
Nick Smith (No. 3 overall)
This 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard might be the first collegiate player off the board in the 2023 NBA Draft. Smith is a crafty and smooth combo guard who can just as easily get his own shot as he can get others their shots. His gravity with his ball handling just opens up his teammates and he’s great at finding them all over the court.
Smith is an excellent shooter and isn’t shy about launching the ball from deep. He’s got good mechanics and his shot looks effortless. That certainly helps him get to the rim more often, but he doesn’t finish through contact well yet. Smith can pull up in the mid-range and uses floaters fairly well.
That said, he has to work on finishing through contact at the rim. Smith likes to pull up and stop short of the rim as he is not quite strong enough to finish through defenders. Right now, that has not been much of a hindrance since he is such a good shooter. Playing at Arkansas will show us if Smith can stay tough against SEC rim protectors for a year.
Anthony Black (No. 18 overall)
This 6-foot-7, 195-pound point forward should mesh well with the aforementioned Smith at Arkansas. Black too is also a great passer and a solid shooter. He has shades of Shaun Livingston — before the injury — in his game because of his size and ability to see over the defense. While Black can run your offense, he is not a superior athlete. He is a good one, though, and relies on his skill more than anything else.
Black is an active finisher around the basket and is a bit better than Smith in that regard. His height helps him finish over more defenders, and it also helps him snag boards for grab-and-go opportunities. Black’s always looking ahead to pass and is unselfish almost to a fault. That can be good or bad, of course. If you need someone to go get you a bucket, it’s detrimental to the cause. If you need a guy to make a play for your best shooter or someone else, however, Black is the perfect choice.
While the offense is certainly there for Black, he is also a solid defender. His long arms and quickness allow him to stay with smaller guards and make life difficult for them. The freshman Razorback should find himself getting selected in the first round near or in the lottery.
Jordan Walsh (No. 19 overall)
Walsh stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 200 pounds, and tends to play more on the wing than either of his five-star contemporaries. What might be the most intriguing part of Walsh’s tangibles is his wingspan, which is reported to be 7-foot-3. That will make him an excellent defender for Coach Musselman as he likely plays more at forward this season.
The freshman is an explosive athlete and might be the best one on the roster as an 18-year-old. He’s a good straight-line driver, but probably needs to work on the rest of his handles at the next level to become a true playmaker for himself and others. Walsh will have to become a more consistent shooter from deep, but the mechanics are there and he has a nice, high release. That should prove to be a tough contest and block at the next level as well.
Walsh will play extremely well in transition, able to grab boards and take the ball down the court himself. He makes solid reads in transition and could be a lob threat himself with his wingspan and athleticism. Walsh should be fine with turnovers as he won’t be handling the ball in the half-court too often. Still, it is something to keep an eye on this season.