UNITED STATES—We’re just a few months away from the 2022 NBA Draft and already the excitement is palpable among NBA fans wondering who the next superstars will be out of the NCAAB. That’s why we’ve put together a hit-list of five NCAAB prospects that are considered by many NBA analysts to be the most in-demand names ahead of this summer’s Draft.
It looks like being the year of the power forwards once again, with three of ESPN’s top five college basketball prospects primed in this position.
Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga University)
Dubbed a college player unlike any other the NBA has known, Chet Holmgren is a seven-foot man mountain that most teams will be fighting themselves for this summer. In most cases, such tall players lack the grace and ball skills to come into the equation as a potential all-time great, but Holmgren appears to have been blessed with both. His shooting is impeccable and he’s fluid and consistent with his dribble. So much so that his lack of strength will almost certainly be overlooked by most NBA recruiters. Holmgren’s mere presence on the Gonzaga roster has made a huge difference to their college basketball odds this season, as the battle intensifies towards March Madness.
Jabari Smith (Auburn University)
Auburn’s Jabari Smith could yet rival Chet Holmgren as the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, especially if his form continues into the coming weeks and March Madness. The power forward looks to have all the defensive and offensive attributes needed, with light footwork and hands, and a uniquely high release. Many analysts of the Houston Rockets believe Smith would be the ideal recruit to complement the likes of Porter Jr, Green, and Sengun, particularly with his cold-blooded ability in three-pointer situations.
Paolo Banchero (Duke University)
Every indication suggests that Duke’s Paolo Banchero will be in the next tranche of NBA superstars. He recently made history by becoming the first NCAAB player to pen NIL deals with global brands. The American-Italian ace has also recently opted to represent the Italian national team. Banchero is comfortably Duke’s leading scorer this season and a move to the NBA in his freshman year would represent a meteoric rise to stardom.
Jaden Ivey (Purdue University)
20-year-old Jaden Ivey is one of the most physically dominant points guards in the NCAAB. He boasts a wingspan of almost 6ft 10”, which makes him a very imposing on-court presence. Ivey arrived at Purdue at 81st on the high-school prospect list but has developed his game at an unprecedented speed. There is a feeling that being part of the number two NCAA team in the country is proving hugely beneficial to Ivey’s progression and a successful March Madness could put him further in the shop window.
A.J. Griffin (Duke University)
Many mock drafts for the 2022 NBA Draft now project A.J. Griffin to be one of the top-ten picks. Although this may raise eyebrows among some, Griffin has certainly had a lot to contend with to reach the top of college basketball. The 6ft 6” prospect has now shaken off an injury-hit period to showcase his talents at Duke. Knee and back problems plagued his high school basketball career, but he is starting to make up for lost time. Many believe he has a significant upside and has been earmarked by many as the most promising small forward entered in this summer’s Draft.
Memphis’ star center Jalen Duren is the number-one center pick this summer, according to ESPN. Although he is one of the younger prospects in this year’s Draft, he’s demonstrated great maturity and is the major reason why Memphis has registered the second-highest block percentage in the NCAA this term.
Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis also has all the makings of an All-American star. The shooting guard won the gold medal with the US at the FIBA U19 World Cup and he is set to become only the sixth player drafted into the NBA from the Wisconsin Badgers.