And-Ones: 2022 Big Board, Sleepers, Muhammad, Russia

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren and Auburn forward Jabari Smith are in a tier of their own atop Sam Vecenie’s latest Big Board for the Athletic. Vecenie has four Duke players in the top 24, including Paolo Banchero at No. 4 and AJ Griffin at No. 6.

One new addition: Kentucky wing Shaedon Sharpe at No. 5. Sharpe hasn’t played this season after joining the Wildcats in January with the plan to play in 2022/23, but he could be draft-eligible this year if he declares. Sharpe is an outstanding athlete at 6’6″ (7’0″ wingspan) and is a legitimate pull-up shooter, according to Vecenie.

Strong performances during March Madness when more NBA eyes will be watching the 2022 draft class could lead to major movement on the board, as Vecenie states that there are minimal differences from spots 15-58. He plans to update his board again in April.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic explores 11 draft sleepers to keep an eye on during March Madness, including Colorado State forward David Roddy and Memphis forward Josh Minott. Hollinger’s favorite “deep, deep sleeper” is Toledo shooting guard Ryan Rollins, who was No. 29 on Vecenie’s board.
  • Shabazz Muhammad recently had an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, stating that he’s hoping to make an NBA comeback. Muhammad last played in the league in 2017/18 with the Bucks, and he admits he wasn’t in the best shape at the time. “I’ve been working on my game seriously. When I was in Milwaukee, I noticed I had gotten myself out of shape. I’m in tip-top shape right now. I’m 220 pounds. That was my original weight when I came into the NBA and had some good years in Minnesota,” Muhammad said. “I realized you can’t take the NBA for granted, and that’s one thing I thought I did when I was in the NBA. Now, I’m thinking about getting back there by working my butt off and doing everything I have to do on and off the court as a person to be the best player and teammate I can be.” The 29-year-old swingman is currently playing in the Philippines.
  • Sources tell Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link) that Russian teams are attempting to lure their American players back to the country by promising bonuses. Many players currently under contract have returned stateside due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. As Stein notes (via Twitter), Russian teams were barred from European competition by FIBA, but league play is set to continue within the country. Stein is skeptical that the American players will rejoin the teams given the instability in the region and the fact that WNBA star Brittney Griner is currently detained in Russia.
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