Draft Notes: Banchero, Holmgren, Smith, Ivey, NCAA

Tonight’s highly anticipated matchup between between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Duke features the top two prospects on most 2022 draft boards — freshmen Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic recently shared his third mock draft for 2022, with Banchero, a 6’10” forward for Duke, at No. 1, and Holmgren, a 7’0″ center for Gonzaga, at No. 2. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report currently has the two players flipped, with Holmgren’s elite shot-blocking and offensive versatility slightly outranking Banchero’s physical tools and high skill-level.

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated thinks that Holmgren has more at stake in Friday’s marquee matchup, because it might be his only opportunity to prove he can physically compete against two strong, NBA-bodied big men in Banchero and Mark Williams (No. 31 on Vecenie’s board). Holmgren has a huge 7’6″ wingspan, but weighs just 195 pounds.

The game will also feature three other projected draft picks, per Vecenie’s board: No. 12 A.J. Griffin (Duke), No. 17 Trevor Keels (Duke) and No. 44 Drew Timme (Gonzaga).

The two 6-0 teams face off at 9:30 PM CT on ESPN in what is likely to be the most heavily-scouted game of the men’s college basketball season.

Here are some more 2022 draft-related notes:

  • Some scouts viewed Banchero and Holmgren in a tier of their own for 2022. However, freshman Jabari Smith of Auburn has been turning heads with his strong play, and Wasserman writes that he could be a future star as well. Vecenie has Smith third on his board, while Jeremy Woo has him second in his initial mock draft, ahead of Holmgren. Smith, who’s six months younger than Banchero and a year younger than Holmgren, is a 6’10” forward with an intriguing mix of skills, and is viewed as the best shooter of the projected top three picks.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks down 10 potential draft picks — two sophomores and eight upperclassmen. The players range from projected high lottery picks (Jaden Ivey of Purdue, number five on Vecenie’s board) to fringe second-rounders (Scotty Pippen Jr. of Vanderbilt, not currently on Vecenie’s board).
  • Jake Fisher of Bleacher Report wonders whether the NCAA is still the best path to the NBA for top prospects. He explores the pros and cons of the NCAA and alternatives such as G League Ignite, Overtime Elite, and playing internationally.
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