With the NCAA basketball tournament set to start this week, several future NBA stars will be in action.
Unlike last year’s draft where all top-five players appeared in the tournament — including Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren — the 2023 NBA Draft is like no other in recent years with only one or two top players electing to play college basketball. Several top prospects including the next big thing, Victor Wembanyama of France, have chosen to go the pro route and bypass college all together.
Here’s a list of players that scouts are high on this year:
Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas PG/SG)
Smith missed two months with a knee injury and didn’t make his collegiate debut until mid-February. To his credit, he opted to play and not sit out until the June draft. Smith has played in a dozen games this season and has scored at least 24 points in three of his last four games. Despite not playing much he should still be a top-10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Jamie Jaquez Jr. (UCLA, SF, Senior)
Jaquez is a borderline first-round selection. He’s tough, smart, an off the chart high basketball IQ, a leader and a winner. The 6-foot-7 senior guard averages 17.5 points and eight rebounds a game and is part of a senior class responsible for 95 wins. He shoots nearly 50 percent from the floor and is one of the best players in the game.
Gradey Dick (Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman)
The 6-foot-8 size, 39.9 percent three-point shooting, finishes at the rim and IQ plays paint Dick as a high-floor prospect and easy fit. NBA teams can bank on his shot-making. He averaged over 14 points and five rebounds this season for the Jayhawks while shooting 44% from the field.
Jarace Walker (Houston, PF, Freshman)
For starters, he’s a physical specimen. A 6-foot-8, 240-pound 19-year-old who can shoot, self-create, score and rebound. Walker averages 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and shoots nearly 48 percent from the field. He’s definitely a methodical shooter who can do damage at the next level.
Brandon Miller (Alabama, SG, Freshman)
The Alabama freshman has been in the news for his non-basketball conduct. And while his indirect involvement in the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris is up for discussion, there’s no debate about his basketball future. He’ll be a high first-round selection, and possibly a lottery pick who could go as high as No. 2.. The 6-foot-9 true-freshman forward averages just under 20 points per game this season and was also named the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year.