Kel’el Ware

Draft Notes: Ware, Bamba, Nolley, Top Prospects, More

Oregon center Kel’el Ware has decided to transfer to a new school and does not intend to enter the 2023 NBA Draft, he tells Travis Branham of

Ware, who averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on .457/.273/.712 shooting in 35 games (15.8 MPG) as a freshman for the Ducks, is a former top high school recruit and is currently ranked No. 35 on ESPN’s big board.

While Ware was a projected second-round pick, Jonathan Givony of ESPN says (via Twitter) “there were real concerns” about the big man’s chances of getting drafted.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

  • Washington State’s TJ Bamba has decided to test the draft waters. He’s entering the draft while maintaining his college eligibility and will also enter the transfer portal, he announced on Twitter. The junior guard averaged 15.8 points and 3.7 rebounds on .426/.372/.730 shooting in 31 games for the Cougars (32.2 MPG) in 2022/23.
  • Cincinnati guard/forward Landers Nolley will declare for the draft, he tells Givony (Twitter link). According to his own announcement (via Twitter), Nolley will maintain his college eligibility, so he won’t be hiring an agent just yet. Nolley, who has one year of eligibility left after previous stops at Virginia Tech and Memphis, averaged a team-high 16.8 points along with 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steal on .447/.417/.750 shooting in 36 games (32.1 MPG) for the Bearcats this season.
  • Which top draft prospects boosted their stock in the NCAA tournament? Givony tackles that subject in a story for ESPN (Insider link). Jordan Hawkins (No. 15 on ESPN’s big board) and Andre Jackson (No. 39) may hear their names called earlier by helping UConn advance to the Final Four.
  • The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor released a new mock draft last week. One surprising pick in his mock is Tennessee forward Julian Phillips, who is ranked No. 56 by ESPN. O’Connor has the freshman going No. 29 to the Pacers.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report examines what scouts are looking to see from five potential NBA prospects in the Final Four. Miami’s Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller have a chance to help themselves once again as they face off against UConn, according to Wasserman.

And-Ones: Darlan, Ignite, 2023 Draft, Vet Extensions, Team Canada

The G League Ignite has secured another top prospect for the 2023/24 season. Thierry Darlan, a point guard from the NBA Academy Africa in Senegal, has committed to the Ignite, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

According to Givony, Darlan drew interest from NCAA schools like Arizona, Kansas, and Santa Clara, but has decided to compete in the G League rather than going the college route. Although the 19-year-old is technically eligible to enter the 2023 draft, per Givony, he’s expected to wait until 2024 to declare as an early entrant.

In his latest 2024 mock draft, Givony projected Darlan to be the No. 45 pick. The 6’7″ guard becomes the fourth prospect projected to be drafted in ’24 who will suit up for the Ignite next season, joining Babacar Sane (No. 24 in Givony’s mock), London Johnson (No. 31), and potential No. 1 pick Matas Buzelis.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In a pair of articles this week for Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman shares a new two-round 2023 mock draft and received input from scouts on which college players’ stocks have risen and fallen the most in recent weeks. Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther and Santa Clara’s Brandin Podziemski are among the risers, while Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis and Oregon’s Kel’el Ware are a couple of the fallers.
  • Following up on a report from Shams Charania that indicated the new CBA could change the rules for veteran contract extensions, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype explores why those modifications have been deemed necessary and considers which players could be most affected by the potential tweaks.
  • While Team USA is no longer requiring its stars to make multiyear commitments to the program, the Canadian national team secured three-year commitments from stars like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray and appears well positioned to send a competitive squad to this year’s World Cup and perhaps next year’s Olympics, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, 2023 Draft, Best Trade Assets, More

Victor Wembanyama led France to a pair of blowout victories in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, scoring 39 total points in 48 minutes as the French team beat Lithuania by 25 points and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 36. The performances on the international stage were the latest reminder why Wembanyama is ranked atop every draft expert’s big board for 2023.

That list of draft experts includes Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who unveiled his full top-100 list for the 2023 NBA draft on Thursday, with the usual suspects (Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson) leading the way.

Givony’s initial list features Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson at No. 3, Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. at No. 4, and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore at No. 5. Keyonte George, Ausar Thompson, Dillon Mitchell, Kel’el Ware, and Brandon Miller round out his top 10.

In an Insider-only story for, Givony also shared his impressions on this year’s Champions Classic, evaluating Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as a lottery prospect and taking a closer look at Gradey Dick‘s strong start to the season for Kansas.

  • Which NBA teams have the best collection of trade assets? Yossi Gozlan and the staff at HoopsHype rank the Thunder, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies as the top three due to their impressive mix of young talent and future draft picks. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wizards are considered the team with the least valuable trade assets.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at nine players who are making an impact this season after changing teams in the summer, starting with Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, while Frank Urbina of HoopsHype singles out nine players who appear to be taking a major leap forward, including Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • In his latest look around the NBA, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer considers whether the Warriors and Bulls will have to turn to the trade market this season, explores Joel Embiid‘s ongoing evolution, and highlights some of the league’s most impressive three-point shooters.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks out the “panic meter” to determine how concerned we should be about some would-be contenders who are off to slow starts. Hollinger isn’t too worried about the Sixers and Clippers, but has serious reservations about the Timberwolves, Nets, and Lakers, with the Heat and Warriors falling in the middle.