By Hocine LOUKKAF on 3/17/2022

With the Tournament starting today, maybe it’s time to have Jabari Smith as our #1 prospect. The month to come will of course gve opportunities for some to make their stock rise.

#1 Jabari Smith, 6-9 SF/PF, LSU, Fr

Like Holmgren and Banchero, Smith is not perfect. Yet, he has been the most consistent with a streak of seven games with 15pts or more including four 25+pt games. Moreover, he has also been more versatile as he displayed it in the loss against Texas A&M as, despite shooting badly (5/16 FG), Smith recorded 9rbds 4as 2bl 2st and only 1to.

#2 Chet Holmgren, 7-0 PF, Gonzaga, Fr

As much as I appreciate Holmgren’s motor, he’s still struggling against physicality in his average conference. He had two games where he recorded single-digit scoring and rebounding numbers over the last three games and shot under 43% FG in these games, including 0/5 from three. He had 13 fouls in these three games but recorded, a preview of what could happen once facing NBA bigs.

#3 Paolo Banchero, 6-9 PF, Duke, Fr

Banchero may be more physical than both his top 3 draftmates but also lacks that special strength (shooting for Smith, shot-blocking and shooting to a lesser extent for Holmgren). His ACC tournament was an illustration of this fact as the Italian forward had 20 and 18 in the last two games but shot 0/6 from three and 10/18 from the free throw line. Banchero looks a lot like former Duke star Jabari Parker, and with all due respect, it’s not necessarily a good thing for a top 3.

#4  Keegan Murray, 6-8 PF/SF, Iowa, So

If he wasn’t three years older than Banchero, I’d probably put Murray in the top 3. Even with this difference of age, it’s not sure at all that Banchero will turn into the kind of shooter and defender Murray is. The Hawkeye has averaged 25.7pts and 9rbds to lead his team to the Big 10 crown, shooting 14/26 from three in the process, maybe the most impressive performance by a prospect lately.

#5 Jalen Duren   , 6-10 C, Memphis, Fr

Since Bates left the program, Memphis went 10-2 and Duren has been a big part of this success. He has shot at least 53% FG since then with only two games under 10pts (9 and 8) including a 21pts 20rbds game against UCF. A pure center but with the potential to be a decent FT and mid-range threat.

#6 Jaden Ivey, 6-3 SG, Purdue, So

Ivey’s last game against Iowa is the perfect illustration of what Ivey can do, good and bad. He had 20pts and 6as on 9/18 FG but shot a poor 1/8 from three while recording 5tos. Ivey needs to fix his shooting consistency and improved his IQ as he had three 5to-game over the last ten games.

#7 Shaedon Sharpe, 6-5 SG, Kentucky

Sharpe’s workouts will determine how high he will be drafted. He has very good size and athleticism at his spot and looks like the most intriguing SG prospect, despite lacking Ivey’s exposure.

#8 Dyson Daniels, 6-6 PG/SG, G-League Ignite

Australia has been specializing in big passing but-can’t-shoot PGs, and while Daniels looks like the ideal prototype, he has been shooting much better lately with 10/19 over the last six games. He has also recorded  impressive rebounding numbers with at least 8rbds over the last five games including 18rbds (sic) against the Kings, not bad for a kid who has just turned 19 today

#9 Bennedict Mathurin, 6-7 SG/SF, Arizona, So

Mathurin, like AJ Griffin, Davis and Hardy, will need to be more consistent. He was impressive against UCLA with 27pts 7rbds 2tos but only had 10pts on 3/11 FG against Colorado in the previous game.He may be more versatile than Griffin and Davis, the reason why I put him before.

#10 AJ Griffin, 6-7 SF, Duke, Fr

Griffin is a polarizing prospect. His body and shooting prowess make him look like a can’t-miss prospect. Yet, he has numerous  bad games with three games with 5pts or less over the last twelve games including six games with 40% FG or less. He’s also god controlling the ball with only 1to over the last four games…but also only 1as.

#11 TyTy Washington, 6-3 PG/SG, Kentucky, Fr

Washington has two good games recently despite his 1/7 3pt against Tennessee. Yet, he’s also had four games under 38% FG but while he was struggling offensively, he has kept his turnover numbers low with 18as for 3tos over these four games.

#12 Jaden Hardy, 6-5 SG, G-League Ignite

Hardy is still struggling being consistent but had four games with at least 33% on 10attempts or more from three. It’s still far from being perfect but make him a more versatile player than Davis.

#13 Walker Kessler, 7-1 PF/C, Auburn So

Despite Auburn’s four losses recently, Kessler can’t really be blamed as he’s averaged 12.7pts 9rbds and 3.7bl over these four games. Controlling his fouls, which limited him and being more consistent from the FT line will important for him to convince teams to make draft him in the lottery.

#14 Johnny Davis, 6-5 SG, Wisconsin, So

The best rebounding guard in the country has also the weakness to be as inconsistent a shooter as you can find. With 6/28 from three over the last eleven games and 3/19 FG in Wisconsin’s loss against MSU, teams could be worried than he could not find his spots in the League.

#15 Kennedy Chandler, 6-1 PG, Tennessee, Fr

Your traditional PG, Chandler has led Tennesse to the SEC title with at least 50% FG in each game including 13as for 0to against Mississipi State and Texas A&M. A good run in the Tournmanen could turn him into a top 10 pick.

#16 Michael Foster Jr, 6-9 PF, G-League Ignite

Foster Jr has been dominant inside with five double-digit rebounding games but since that early-Febraury break, he’s struggled scoring the ball with four games under 40% FG including two against 15% FG, not ncessarily what your expect from a big man.

#17 Kendall Brown, 6-8 SF, Baylor, Fr

With at least 50% FG over the last four games, including 5/6 from three, it seems like Brown’s hype would be high. But the freshman looks like a complementary player as he had only 7pts in the loss against Oklahoma. Enough to have him picked in the top 20.

#18  EJ Liddell, 6-7 PF, Ohio State, Jr

Liddell may suffer from his upperclassman status but numbers don’t lie. With at least 16pts and 8rbds in each of the last four games, including an impressive 33/40 FT and 12bl combined, the Buckeye is making a case for a top 20 selection.

#19 Ismael Kamagate (France), 6-11 C, Paris Basket (France) 2001

With 36pts 15rbds and 4bl combined over the last two games, Kamagate’s stock is rising playing in the tough French league. Comparisons to Gobert, who is represented by the same agent, shoould make him a surefire top 20 pick for a team in need of a solid defensive presence inside.

#20 Jeremy Sochan, 6-9 SF/PF Baylor, Fr

Like his teammate Brown, Sochan is a very intriguing prospect. He has even more physical tools than Brown due to his size but lacks shooting with 5/23 from three over the last seven games. His versatility and potential as do-it-all PF could be enough to have him picked also in the top 20.

#21 Malaki Branham, 6-5 SG, Ohio State

With nine double-digit scoring games in a row, including four 20+pt games and seven games with 50% or more FG, Branham may be the most consistent SG freshman and could end up a better pro than Big 10-mate Johnny Davis.

#22 Ousmane Dieng (France), 6-9 SF/SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers (NBL) 2003

A once top-10 projected prospect, Dieng has slipped due to injury and a rough start in the NBL. Yet, he’s been better recently with 13.8pts per game over the last four games, albeit his 3pt shooting (3/17) and his alleged passing (4as) are still  work in progress. He has a lot of room to improve but may display his versatility not to slip to the second round.

#23 Justin Lewis, 6-10 PF/SF, Marquette, So

With at least 7rbds in each of the last nine games and 21/52 during that stretch, Lewis seems to have it all to convince as a stretch-four or combo forward at the pro level. Yet, he tends to be very inconsistent as over the last five games, he had two 4/7 3pt games against St John’s and DePaul but  shot 1/16 from three over the other three games.

#24 Ochai Agbaji, 6-5 SG, Kansas, Sr

With 18.7pts per game in the Big 12 tournament, Agbaji has improved his stock as he had three games under 37% FG before the Tournament, including an awful 1/11  against Texas. He may more limited than some experts might think in a class with numerous young SG prospects.

#25 Nikola Jovic (Serbia), 6-10 PF, MegaBasket (Serbia) 2003

Another 2003-born international prospect, Jovic has struggled shooting the ball (three of his last four games with 33% FG or less)  but has been more active than Dieng (22rbds and 17as/11tos over this four-game span). Like the Frenchman, the most experienced  Serbian needs to show more consistency.

#26 Tari Eason, 6-8 PF/SF LSU, So

A rising combo-forward, Eason may lack a forte as he’s not as dominant in the paint nor as good a shooter as Liddell. Yet, he had numerous 20pt+ games recently in what is considered a top 3 conference in the country.

#27 Mark Williams, 6-11 C, Duke, So

Like most prospects, consistency is the key. While Williams had three 10rbds or more games over the last five games, he had 3 and 2rbds over the other two games. Williams will be a solid back up C that could, with a ot of work, become a starter down the road.

#28 Marjon Beauchamp, 6-7 SF/SG, G-League Ignite, 2000

Beauchamp hasn’t played recently and may have turned his G-League season into a first round selection. His length at the SF position will intrigue teams.

#29 Wendell Moore Jr, 6-6 SF, Duke, Jr

Moore’s last month in the ACC is polarizing. He had three single-digit scoring games, including 4pts against UVA and 5pts against Syracuse. He started the ACC tournament pretty well with 26pts for only to against Syracuse but couldn’t prevent the loss against Virginia Tech with only 11pts and 1as.

#30 Patrick Baldwin, 6-9 SF/PF, Milwaukee, Fr

Hopefully, Baldwin has used his time training hard since he left Milwaukee as he had an awful season for a potential top 10 pick. Maybe signing for his father was a bad idea, but teams should not worry about Baldwin’s mindset as he has always been considered a smart kid.