Draft Notes: Walker, Lively, Podziemski, E. Miller, Lundy

Many of the top prospects in college basketball either struggled during the first four days of this year’s NCAA tournament or weren’t in action at all, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link), but Houston forward Jarace Walker and Duke center Dereck Lively II were among the players who showed off the defensive acumen that makes them intriguing prospects at the next level.

Referring to him as “arguably the most versatile defender” in the 2023 class, Givony praises Walker for his ability to protect the rim and stand tall against big men in the post while also switching onto perimeter players and drawing charges. Walker is currently the No. 6 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list and has the potential to be a top-five pick, says Givony.

While Walker has shown some flashes of offensive potential, Lively scored just four points across his two NCAA tournament games (65 minutes) and has the lowest usage rate (11.6%) of any player in ESPN’s top 100, per Givony. However, the 7’2″ center possesses “exceptional mobility” and is easily the top shot blocker among players projected to be drafted, so he still projects to be a first-round pick (he’s No. 22 on ESPN’s list).

As John Hollinger of The Athletic observes, the floor spacing at the NBA level should give Lively more room to operate as a rim runner. He has shown some passing ability and the potential to make corner threes, according to Hollinger, so there’s reason to be hopeful that he could develop a passable offensive game to go along with his game-changing defense.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Following a breakout sophomore season, Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski announced (via Twitter) that he’ll test the draft waters while maintaining his NCAA eligibility. Podziemski, who averaged 19.9 points per game and 8.8 RPG with an impressive .438 3PT%, is the No. 39 prospect on ESPN’s big board, but has moved up to No. 20 in Jonathan Wasserman’s Bleacher Report rankings.
  • TCU senior forward Emanuel Miller will test the draft waters while maintaining his extra year of college eligibility, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Miller, who began his college career at Texas A&M, averaged 12.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG on .505/.392/.652 shooting in 2022/23.
  • Penn State senior forward Seth Lundy is also declaring for the 2023 draft, he tells Rothstein (Twitter link). A press release issued by the school indicated that Lundy will be forgoing his final year of eligibility and going pro.
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