Gregory Payan / Associated Press
1. Nick Smith (North Little Rock, SG, Arkansas commit)
During a breakout summer and senior year, Smith showcased the most complete skill package among 2023 draft-eligible guards. Advanced self-creation, shooting versatility, floater touch and passing could help the 6’4 “combo produce big numbers at Arkansas and fuel top-three projections. Limiting the forced shots and decisions will be key for Smith, whose positional tools, scoring confidence and playmaking flashes scream NBA.
2. Keyonte George (IMG, SG, Baylor commit)
Baylor could be losing multiple wings / forwards if freshmen Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan join Matthew Mayer in the draft. That would open up a major opportunity for George, a strong, athletic slasher who defenders have trouble containing or stopping at the rim. He’s shown he can carry a team through stretches of a game with his aggressiveness attacking downhill and shot-making confidence.
3. Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monson, PF / C, Duke commit)
A 6’11 “big with enough ball-handling, shooting and passing skill to play the 4, Filipowski will fill in for projected top-three pick Paolo Banchero. Scouts will be drawn to his ability to grab-and-go, stretch the floor, attack from the arc and dish over the top, though he’ll still produce plenty around the basket with his strength to finish through contact and rebound.
4. Dereck Lively (Westtown, C, Duke commit)
Assuming Mark Williams heads for the draft, Lively will immediately replace his easy baskets and rim protection at Duke. At 7’1 “, he’s a giant presence around the basket for lobs, finishing, offensive rebounding and shot-blocking. But he’ll distinguish himself from Duke’s current center with more shooting range and controlled post shots.
5. Jarace Walker (IMG, PF, Houston commit)
Walker immediately stands out for his chiseled 6’6 “, 220-pound frame. In nine NIBC games, he finished first in field-goal percentage and second in blocks, but it’s flashes of face-up moves, improving touch and passing that elevate Walker into a lottery pick. He’s added considerable skill to go with his power over the past year.
6. Cason Wallace (Richardson, PG / SG, Kentucky commit)
With TyTy Washington Jr. expected to go pro, Kentucky gets to re-up with another scoring guard in Wallace. Coming off an outstanding season for Richardson, the 6’4 “combo puts pressure on opponents with his dribble creativity and defensive motor. He’s not super impressive physically or athletically, but he manages to compensate with crafty paint finishes and confident shot-making.
7. Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite, SG / SF, 2003)
Positional 6’7 “size, shot-making flashes, off-ball athletic plays and defensive playmaking have helped Thompson look like Overtime’s top prospect. He has a funky release on his jumper, and it’s tough to call him a shooter at 27.3 percent from three. But he’s promising enough from outside for a two-way scoring wing with his physical profile.
8. Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon, SG, UCLA commit)
Currently leading Sierra Canyon in the state championships, Bailey has stood out over the years for his strong physical profile and athleticism, scoring instincts, playmaking versatility and feel for the game. It seems to come so easy that he may have a tendency to be casual with his handle di lui. And he still has room to improve his shooting of him. Bailey could be walking into a high-usage role at UCLA if Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. leave for the draft.
9. Dillon Mitchell (Montverde, PF, Texas commit)
Though not as skilled as the other projected one-and-done forwards, Mitchell consistently finds ways to make plays with his mix of bounce, quickness and motor. Showing he can hit open threes would be huge for his draft stock of him. Regardless, scouts may still have a tough time resisting the way he earns easy baskets, defends wings or bigs, blocks shots, crashes the glass and impacts games without needing plays run for him.
10. Amen Thompson (Overtime Elite, SG / SF, 2003)
Thompson’s identity revolves around explosiveness, playmaking and defensive versatility. His shooting and touch di lui are worrisome, as he’s only shot 8-of-41 from three and 47.1 percent from the line with Team OTE. From an NBA perspective, there is still enough to like about his ball-handling, passing, athleticism and defensive projection for a 6’7 “guard or wing.