Ranking the top 10 NBA prospects in the NCAA Tournament

It’s that time of year when NBA fans will momentarily shift their focus and indulge in all the greatness that is March Madness.

For a lot of NBA fans, this will be the first time they see future NBA Draft prospects on display, placing a bigger spotlight on some of the nation’s top players.

In recent years, we have missed out on seeing some top prospects in the NCAA Tournament for a few reasons – either their team didn’t make the tournament or the players took their talents elsewhere, like the G League Ignite or NBL Next Stars program.

This year, NBA fans are in luck because that is not the case.

The teams of each of the 10 best prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft all qualified for the NCAA Tournament, giving us a chance to see how they perform on the big stage.

Who are the 10 best NBA prospects in March Madness this year? Take a look below to find out.

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1. Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Position: F / C

Height and weight: 7-foot-1, 190 lbs.

Age: 19, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 16 Georgia State – Thursday, March 17 at 4:15 pm ET on TNT

This is a term that was used too frequently in the past, but there’s no better way to describe Holmgren – he’s a unicorn.

Don’t let the freshman 7-footer’s slender frame fool you. Holmgren plays with an aggressive mindset and a competitive attitude. He’s one of the best shot blockers in the country, he can handle the ball like a guard and is more than comfortable knocking down shots from 3-point range.

In Gonzaga’s final eight regular season games, Holmgren posted jaw-dropping averages of 15.4 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.1 (!) Blocks per game with seven double-doubles, dominating on both ends of the floor.

He is the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft heading into the NCAA Tournament.

(Side note: NBA fans should be rooting for No. 9-seed Memphis to win their first-round matchup versus No. 8-seed Boise State, setting up a second-round battle between Holmgren and Jalen Duren, who is coming up on this list shortly.)

2. Paolo Banchero, Duke

Paolo Banchero-022822-GETTY-FTR

Position: F.

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 235 lbs.

Age: 19, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton – Friday, March 18 at 7:10 pm ET on CBS

Banchero already looks like an NBA player. At 6-foot-10, 235 pounds with a reported 7-foot-1 wingspan, his size, length and physicality di lui are on par with those at the next level.

When you watch how fluid he is with the ball in his hands and how easily he creates his own shot as an 18-year-old forward, you can start to imagine how he is in contention for the No. 1 overall pick. Banchero has a soft shooting touch and he is an exceptional passer. When he digs in on the defensive end he can be disruptive, but his motor di lui isn’t always revving on that end of the floor.

His mobility, playmaking and array of go-to scoring moves set him apart as a prospect, though, and if you catch him on the right night, you’ll see a player who could become a multi-time All-Star if he reaches his ceiling.

3. Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Position: F.

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 210 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State – Friday, March 18 at 12:40 pm ET on truTV

Smith has played his way into conversations for the No. 1 pick after a breakout freshman season at Auburn.

The 6-foot-10 forward just might be the best shooter in this class, capable of knocking down shots from all three levels of the floor. He has a smooth shooting stroke with a high release to shoot over the top of any defender. He’s athletic and mobile, light on his feet di lui as a versatile defender that every NBA team is looking for. His length di lui makes him a great rim protector and a shot-blocking threat on the help-side, making an impact on both ends of the floor.

If he can develop his ball-handling and get comfortable enough to create his own shot, Smith’s ceiling as an NBA player will rise significantly.

4. Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Jaden-Ivey

Position: G.

Height and weight: 6-foot-4, 200 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Where to watch: vs. No. 14 Yale – Friday, March 18 at 2:00 pm ET on TBS

Ivey is one of the most electrifying players in the NCAA Tournament.

The sophomore guard has been a two-way star for Purdue this season, emerging as the best perimeter prospect in this draft class. He’s electrifying when he gets downhill and attacks the rim, shifting into another gear that other college players simply do not have. It looks like he has a turbo button at times. He embraces contact in the paint and uses his length di lui for crafty finishes around the basket. That same physicality translates to the defensive end, where he is one of the most suffocating perimeter defenders in college basketball.

Ivey will make an immediate impact at the NBA level.

MORE: Could Ivey become the best prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft class?

5. Keegan Murray, Iowa

Keegan-Murray

Position: F.

Height and weight: 6-foot-8, 215 lbs.

Age: 21, Sophomore

Where to watch: vs. No. 12 Richmond – Thursday, March 17 at 3:10 pm ET on truTV

Murray has emerged as one of the best scorers in the entire country.

The sophomore forward had a remarkable season for Iowa, averaging 23.6 points per game while shooting an efficient 55.5 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from 3-point range. He can score from anywhere on the floor, shooting it comfortably from 3-point range, off the catch or off the dribble. He uses simple moves to score out of the post or he can put the ball on the floor and put pressure on the rim. He’s not afraid to push the ball in transition and he’s a capable passer, too.

He had 16 games (!) With 25 or more points this season. Five of those were performances of over 30 points.

Coming off of a Big Ten Tournament run where he averaged 25.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game on .559 / .538 / .929 shooting splits en route to the conference title and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, Murray is the hottest player in the nation right now.

6. Jalen Duren, Memphis

Jalen-Duren

Position: C.

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 235 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 8 Boise State – Friday, March 17 at 1:45 pm ET on TNT

Duren is the most physically gifted player in this class with unmatched strength and jaw-dropping athleticism.

He is a two-way force in the paint as a lob-catcher and rim protector and he dominates the glass on both sides of the floor.

After a slow start to the season, Duren is playing his best basketball at the right time. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.1 steals while shooting 65.1 percent from the field over Memphis’ final seven games of the regular season. In the AAC Tournament, he turned in a 21-point, 20-rebound game to show how imposing he can be.

Depending on how the NBA Draft order shakes out, Duren could easily be selected in the top five.

A potential second-round matchup with Gonzaga’s Holmgren would be a great opportunity for his draft stock.

7. AJ Griffin, Duke

AJ-Griffin

Position: F.

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 220 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton – Friday, March 18 at 7:10 pm ET on CBS

Griffin has come along nicely as the season has gone on, finding his groove as a scorer for a loaded Duke team.

He’s built like a running back with broad shoulders and a strong frame, making him a tough and physical matchup for opposing guards. He almost looks stiff at times because of his stature di lui. Griffin uses that strength to his advantage with good body control when he attacks the basket, but he can also stop on a dime and pull up with a soft shooting touch from both midrange and 3. He gets lost in the mix of Duke’s scoring pecking order sometimes, but he can heat up in a hurry when he gets his shots.

It’s also worth mentioning he is the son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach, Adrian Griffin.

8. Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Johnny Davis

Position: G.

Height and weight: 6-foot-5, 194 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Where to watch: vs. No. 14 Colgate – Friday, March 18 at 9:50 pm ET on TBS

Davis was one of the biggest risers in the 2022 NBA Draft class. He was practically off of the NBA radar heading into the season before bursting onto the scene as one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors.

After averaging 7.0 points per game as a freshman, Davis elevated his game to post 19.7 points as a sophomore. His shot creation off the bounce is his biggest asset di lui and he’s a tough shot-maker. He’s fast with the ball in his hands and attacks the rim aggressively. He plays with a dog mentality on defense, working relentlessly to disrupt opposing ball-handlers.

His intangibles elevate his ceiling as a prospect, playing with a high motor while doing whatever it takes to make winning plays.

9. Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

Position: G.

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 195 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Where to watch: vs. winner of No. 16 Bryant / Wright State – Friday, March 18 at 7:27 pm ET on truTV

Mathurin earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors after showing major growth from his freshman to sophomore season.

Averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game, Mathurin was the most impactful player on an Arizona team that only lost three games all season.

He is a strong and explosive guard with a lightning-quick first step. His improved handle of lui has helped him become a more lethal shot creator and he has developed all of the tools of a scoring guard in the NBA. He can space the floor with his 3-point shooting but he can also blow by defenders to attack the rim or get to his trusty floater. He can pull up off the bounce or fly around off of screens to catch-and-shoot.

Mathurin will give any NBA team a boost as a pesky perimeter defender and bucket-getter.

EXPERT PICKS: DeCourcy (Arizona) | Bender (Kentucky) | Fagan (Gonzaga) | Pohnl (Arizona)

10. TyTy Washington, Kentucky

TyTy-Washington

Position: G.

Height and weight: 6-foot-3, 185 lbs.

Age: 19, Freshman

Where to watch: vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s – Thursday, March 17 at 7:10 pm ET on CBS

Washington has been a reliable floor general for Kentucky, making a case as the best passer in this draft class.

Even dealing with some nagging injuries all season, the freshman guard has been a constant for the Wildcats, initiating offense and commanding the pace of the game. He has tight handles, changes pace and direction in an instant, and has crisp shot mechanics, making him a multi-faceted threat to opposing defenses.

His averages of 12.8 points and 4.0 assists per game won’t jump off the page, but performances like his 17-point, 17-assist outing against Georgia prove just how lethal he can be in creating for himself and his teammates.

He has a real chance to boost his draft stock if he can lead Kentucky on a run in the NCAA Tournament, and there is a potential looming matchup against Purdue’s Ivey in the Sweet 16 that would be massive in that aspect.

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