Rob Dillingham

Draft Notes: Simpson, Sallis, Christie, Dixon, No. 1 Pick

Colorado point guard KJ Simpson, a junior who is ranked No. 46 on ESPN’s top-100 list, is declaring for the 2024 NBA draft and forgoing his remaining college eligibility, he announced on Twitter.

A member of the All-Pac-12 First Team in 2023/24, Simpson averaged 19.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.9 APG and 1.6 SPG on .475/.434/.876 shooting in 37 games this season for the Buffaloes (35.1 MPG), who lost to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Another potential second-round pick, Wake Forest guard Hunter Sallis, is entering the draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

After spending his first two seasons playing a limited role off the bench for Gonzaga, Sallis transferred to Wake Forest and had a breakout junior season for the Demon Deacons, averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.1 SPG on .487/.405/.783 shooting in 34 appearances (35.4 MPG). He earned a spot on the All-ACC First Team for his efforts.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony says Sallis is an impressive shooter, but there are questions about his passing, defense and thin frame. Sallis is No. 49 on ESPN’s board.

Here are few more notes on the 2024 draft:

  • Minnesota guard Cam Christie announced (via Twitter) that he’s testing the draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility. Christie says he’s “eager to receive feedback” from NBA teams. As a freshman for the Golden Gophers, he averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 2.2 RPG while shooting 39.1% from three-point range in 33 games (30.1 MPG). Christie is the younger brother of Lakers guard Max Christie.
  • Villanova’s Eric Dixon is declaring for the draft and his announcement (via Instagram) doesn’t say anything about returning to college, so we’re assuming he’s turning pro. As a senior in ’23/24, the 6’8″ forward averaged 16.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG on .465/.346/.862 shooting in 34 games for the Wildcats (30.6 MPG).
  • Unlike last year, there is no consensus choice for 2024’s No. 1 overall pick. As Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN write (Insider link), different teams may favor different prospects depending on their evaluations and what they need. Zaccharie Risacher and Alexandre Sarr — a pair of French prospects — are considered the top contenders to go No. 1, but UConn’s Donovan Clingan, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, and Serbia’s Nikola Topic could all factor into the equation. It’s also possible that one of Reed Sheppard (Kentucky), Stephon Castle (UConn), Matas Buzelis (G League Ignite) or Ron Holland (Ignite) could end up being the No. 1 pick if they have a strong pre-draft process, according Givony and Woo.

Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham Declares For 2024 NBA Draft

Following his freshman season at Kentucky, guard Rob Dillingham told Malika Andrews of ESPN on NBA Today this afternoon that he’ll declare for the 2024 NBA draft and go pro. As Jonathan Givony of ESPN relays, Dillingham said he has hired Klutch Sports for representation.

Dillingham came off the bench for the Wildcats in 2023/24, but put up big numbers in a somewhat limited role, averaging 15.2 points and 3.9 assists in just 23.3 minutes per game across 32 appearances. He also posted an impressive .475/.444/.796 shooting line.

Dillingham was named the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year and earned a spot on the All-SEC second team as he raised his draft stock significantly over the course of his freshman year. Givony cites the 19-year-old’s “open-court explosiveness, advanced ball-handling ability, (and) creativity as a passer and finisher” as a few reasons why he’s now viewed as a potential top-five pick.

Dillingham currently ranks fourth overall on ESPN’s list of top 100 prospects for 2024. He’s the second-highest ranked NCAA prospect and the No. 1 point guard on ESPN’s board, though he says he’s not concerned about how high he gets drafted.

“It doesn’t matter what pick I am, if I get picked 60th,” Dillingham said. “I want to go to a team that trusts me and can help me build, and I can build with them, and make me better. I just want to help my team win, and they can develop me and teach me things.”

Draft Notes: Buzelis, Risacher, Castle, Mocks, Early Entrants

Matas Buzelis‘ draft stock has dipped a little over the course of the 2023/24 season, but the G League Ignite forward isn’t lacking for confidence as the pre-draft process nears. Speaking to Donatas Urbonas of, Buzelis expressed confidence that he’d match up well with Zaccharie Risacher, the No. 1 prospect on ESPN’s big board.

“Of course, I want to see him one-on-one,” Buzelis said. “He just doesn’t want to do that with me. His agent will not do that with me, and I know he won’t. It’s a business decision.”

Asked why he feels as if he has an edge over Risacher in a hypothetical 1-on-1 matchup, Buzelis replied, “My advantage is that I have everything over him.”

While Buzelis has spent the season in the G League, Risacher has been playing for JL Bourg in France, so the two prospects haven’t gone head-to-head. Considered a potential No. 1 overall pick when mock drafts for 2024 were first being published last summer, Buzelis is now at No. 6 on ESPN’s board, though he tells Urbonas that he’s attempting not to focus on where he’s projected to be selected.

“I try not to look at it,” Buzelis said. “It’s obviously there, and I see it. But I try to stay in the zone. I know what I’m capable of, and I don’t look at what number I am. I know if I’m getter better, then I’m winning.”

Here’s more on the 2024 draft:

  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer made updates to both his 2024 big board and mock draft on Wednesday. Interestingly, UConn’s Stephon Castle is now O’Connor’s highest-ranked NCAA prospect, at No. 2 on his big board, but comes in at No. 8 in his mock.
  • Despite Rob Dillingham‘s underwhelming performance in Kentucky’s NCAA tournament loss to Oakland, the freshman guard is still the first college player off the board in the latest mock draft from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, at No. 2.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic identifies a few NBA prospects whose draft stocks have risen or dropped as a result of their March Madness performances. Duke’s Jared McCain and Oregon’s N’Faly Dante are among those who are “up,” while Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Virginia’s Ryan Dunn are a couple names on the “down” list.
  • The following college players made announcements within the last week indicating that they plan to test the 2024 NBA draft waters:

And-Ones: K. Hall, March Madness, Zizic, Scoring Dip

George Mason guard Keyshawn Hall has opted to test the 2024 NBA draft waters and enter the NCAA transfer portal, he tells Jeff Goodman of The Field of 68 (Twitter link).

Hall spent his first college season at UNLV in 2022/23, then transferred to George Mason, where he enjoyed a breakout sophomore season with the Patriots. He averaged 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game across 29 appearances, with a .474/.357/.844 shooting line. However, he doesn’t show up on ESPN’s list of 2024’s top 100 prospects, so he may decide to stay in school for at least one more year in an effort to improve his stock.

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

  • With the first week of March Madness in the books, Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of (Insider link) updated their 2024 mock draft and shared some observations on the latest NCAA results, including disappointing final games for Kentucky prospects Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard and impressive showings for big men Donovan Clingan of UConn and Zach Edey of Purdue.
  • Former first-round pick Ante Zizic, who appeared in 113 games for the Cavaliers from 2017-20, recently stated that he prefers playing in Europe, referring to the NBA as a “show” and admitting that his stint stateside didn’t “go in the direction I imagined.” Eurohoops has the story, with the quotes from Zizic.
  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the data surrounding the NBA’s league-wide post-All-Star scoring dip, noting that it’s all the more unusual because scoring usually increases near the end of the season. A slightly slower pace of play and fewer free throws being awarded per game are the primary reasons for the decline, Partnow suggests.

Southwest Notes: Exum, Alvarado, Grizzlies, Rockets

In an interesting story for Yahoo Sports, Jake Fischer describes how Mavericks guard Dante Exum was able to make it back to the NBA after spending two seasons out of the league.

An Australian who sustained multiple major injuries early in his career, Exum only had G League offers in the U.S. and Canada after he was released by Houston in October 2021, and he decided that playing in Europe (for Barcelona and Partizan) was a better pathway for his future.

It’s always a risk. Not many people go to Europe and are able to come back,” Exum said. “It’s hard to get back.

Exum, 28, was considered a raw prospect when he was drafted fifth overall back in 2014. While he showed promise defensively and as a play-maker, he often struggled with scoring efficiency. However, he posted impressive shooting splits in Europe and that has continued in his first season in Dallas — he’s shooting 50% from deep (40-of-80) through 43 games (19.4 MPG), with an excellent 65.6 true shooting percentage.

I think it’s just comfortability, consistency and confidence,” Exum said, per Fischer. “That was the one thing I’ve tried to improve. But I think a lot of times when you’re shooting and you miss one, you kinda get in your head a little bit. I try not to let that happen anymore. At what point do you become a shooter in the sense of how many am I willing to miss before I stop shooting? And I want that number to be high.”

The Mavericks have been much better when Exum is on the court in 2023/24, Fischer writes, particularly when he’s been paired with Luka Doncic. Exum’s $3.15MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, but it would be surprising if Dallas doesn’t keep him around, considering how well he has fit in as a role player.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Pelicans backup point guard Jose Alvarado makes a big impact on the defensive end despite his diminutive stature, writes Christian Clark of (subscriber link). “It starts with his heart,” head coach Willie Green said. “He plays with his heart and soul every game. It’s hard to bottle that up into a stat. Then you add his instincts. He has tremendous on-court defensive instincts. It’s why he was ACC Defensive Player of the Year. With all the talent in that conference, it was him. He only knows how to play one way. That’s the beautiful part about Jose. He brings it 110% every time he steps on the floor.” New Orleans has a 104.9 defensive rating — 3.5 points per 100 possessions stingier than Minnesota’s league-best mark — when Alvarado is on the court, Clark notes.
  • The injury-ravaged Grizzlies set an unfortunate franchise record on Wednesday when 10-day signee Maozinha Pereira made his NBA debut, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The Brazilian forward, who had been playing for Mexico City in the G League, became the 29th player to appear in a game for the Grizzlies this season, breaking a 28-player mark set in two previous seasons.
  • Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link) lists 14 college prospects for Rockets fans to monitor with the NCAA Tournament underway. Some players mentioned include Purdue’s Zach Edey, UConn’s Stephon Castle and Donovan Clingan, and Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham. The Rockets control Brooklyn’s 2024 first-round pick, which is currently projected to be No. 8 overall. The fate of their own first-rounder depends on multiple different factors, but as of right now it would likely be conveyed to Oklahoma City as part of a previous trade.

And-Ones: Maluach, 2024 Draft, Abu Dhabi, 40K-Point Club

Khaman Maluach, the top big man in the 2024 recruiting class, has committed to Duke, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Maluach had been playing at the NBA Academy Africa in Senegal.

The 7’2″ center, who is projected by ESPN to be the No. 3 overall pick in the 2025 NBA draft, will join projected No. 1 pick Cooper Flagg as part of a star-studded recruiting class for the Blue Devils. He chose Duke after also visiting Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA and receiving offers from the G League Ignite and Australia’s NBL Next Stars program, per Givony.

“Duke is home, that’s where I belong.” Maluach said. “This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I felt like I could succeed anywhere, but I was most comfortable going to Duke. All the schools that were recruiting me are big-time programs, but in terms of my development and the relationships I built with the coaches, they were the best.”

Maluach became the third-youngest player in World Cup history last summer when – at age 16 – he played for a South Sudan squad that qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever.

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

Draft Notes: Buzelis, Ignite, Risacher, Sarr, Mocks

Matas Buzelis, who was the No. 1 prospect in the very first 2024 mock draft that ESPN’s Jonathan Givony published a year ago, had slipped to 10th in ESPN’s prospect rankings last month, but has rebounded nicely as of late, Givony writes in an Insider-only story.

After missing the first part of the G League season due to ankle problems, Buzelis has shown off an improved three-point shot in recent weeks (38.5% in his past 10 games) and has been better on the defensive end of the court, according to Givony, who notes that the Ignite guard/forward made an impact at All-Star weekend, hitting a game-winning shot in the Rising Stars semifinal on Friday.

While Buzelis hasn’t reclaimed that No. 1 spot on ESPN’s big board, he’s back up to No. 6. And, as Givony observes, in a class with no obvious top prospect, a strong finish to the G League season could put the 19-year-old back in the conversation for that first overall pick.

Here are a few more notes on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • Givony and Jeremy Woo of (Insider link) examine where things stand for the G League Ignite, noting that Adam Silver‘s comments at All-Star weekend suggest that the program’s days may be numbered. The Ignite are just 2-19 this season and player development has been inconsistent due to the lack of quality guard play, Woo writes. Still, it seems safe to assume the Ignite will be back for the 2024/25 season, since prospects like Dink Pate and Thierry Darlan are under contract for another year and the program continues to actively recruit high-profile prospects.
  • International prospects Zaccharie Risacher and Alexandre Sarr top the latest mock draft from Givony and Woo, with Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham at No. 3, Buzelis at No. 4, and Colorado’s Cody Williams at No. 5.
  • Risacher and Sarr are also the two players first off the board in the newest mock draft from Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. However, there are significant deviations from ESPN’s mock draft beyond that, starting with Serbian point guard Nikola Topic (No. 3) and Connecticut wing Stephon Castle (No. 5) cracking Vecenie’s top five. Topic is at No. 6 in ESPN’s mock, while Castle is all the way down at No. 15.
  • Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports has also published a new mock draft for 2024, with Sarr claiming the top spot.

And-Ones: 2024 Draft, HS Prospects, Breakout Players, Ray

ESPN draft experts Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo (Insider link) continue to rotate prospects in and out of the No. 1 spot on their draft board for 2024, moving French big man Alexandre Sarr into that top spot in place of USC guard Isaiah Collier, who has struggled for the Trojans as of late.

The 2024 draft class doesn’t have a clear headliner, so the race for No. 1 remains wide open. Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland, two G League Ignite youngsters who were atop ESPN’s big board during the summer of 2023, are now in the back end of the lottery at No. 10 and 11, respectively, while Collier has slipped all the way to No. 8.

Conversely, the latest risers on ESPN’s board include Colorado wing Cody Williams, who is up to No. 3 from No. 10, and Serbian point guard Nikola Topic, who has risen four spots to No. 5. Two more notable prospects who jumped from outside of the lottery into the top seven are French forward Tidjane Salaun and Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, who moved up nine spots to Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.

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

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report breaks down his top 10 prospects in high school basketball, with Cooper Flagg, Cameron Boozer, and A.J. Dybantsa topping his list.
  • Michael Pina of The Ringer singles out eight players across the NBA who are taking their games to another level this season, from stars like Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton to role players such as Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.
  • Former Nuggets forward James Ray, the No. 5 overall pick in the 1980 draft, died last week at age 66 due to complications from a surgery, as Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes. A college star for the Jacksonville Dolphins, Ray appeared in 103 NBA games across three seasons for Denver, then spent several years in Europe before retiring as a player.

And-Ones: F. Jackson, G. Davis, W. Bynum, Cooks, More

French team ASVEL confirmed that it has parted ways with former NBA guard Frank Jackson, terminating his contract with the club (Twitter link).

The expectation is that Jackson will move from France to China, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando, who hears that the 25-year-old will sign a lucrative contract with a team in the Chinese Basketball Association. Jackson appeared in 214 total NBA games for New Orleans, Detroit, and Utah from 2018-23.

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

  • Former NBA players Glen Davis and Will Bynum are the latest to be convicted in relation to a scheme to defraud the league’s health insurance plan, according to a report from The Associated Press. While their sentences likely won’t be as lengthy as that of Terrence Williams, who was deemed the ringleader of the plot and given 10 years in prison, Davis and Bynum will “probably” face some jail time, says Michael McCann of Sportico (subscription required).
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at which NBA draft prospects were most impressive at this year’s NCAA Champions Classic, identifying three Kentucky players – freshmen Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham and sophomore Adou Thiero – as a few of the youngsters who have improved their stock at the start of the college season.
  • Former Wizards forward Xavier Cooks received multiple two-way contract offers before deciding to sign with a Japanese team, sources tell Olgun Uluc of According to Uluc, the belief is that Cooks prioritized “significant” guaranteed money overseas rather than trying to work his way up the NBA ladder.
  • Within the same ESPN story, Uluc says that the Cavaliers, Pistons, Jazz, Kings, Clippers, and Wizards are among the teams who have had representatives in Australia this fall to scout the draft prospects in the country’s National Basketball League.