2023 NBA Mock Draft Update

4/19/22

In the latest 2023 draft news some big names have decided to forgo the 2022 draft and return to school, giving a nice boost of talent to the 2023 class. We’ve also just witnessed the post high school season all star games in which a few top recruits have burst into the national spotlight and now find themselves rising up the 2023 draft rankings.

One of the biggest stories of the past few months (and culminating at the Nike Hoops Summit last week) has been the meteoric rise of Leonard Miller, the 6-10 Canadian wing. Miller was little known at the beginning of the season but has risen to become one of the top prospects in the class, with all the makings of a future first round pick. Miller looks like he could be headed to the G League but a few schools, including Kentucky, are still in the mix. There are also some indications that he’ll be eligible for the 2022 draft, so we’ll keep an eye on that as well.

Other notable risers from the post season all star games include Anthony Black, Cam Whitmore and Kel’el Ware, all of whom are now projected as 2023 first rounders with lottery potential.

While there are many college players testing the draft waters we’ve also seen a few big names announce their intentions to return to school:

UNC gets a huge boost for next season with the return of Armando Bacot. After a strong run in March many expected Bacot to bounce to the NBA. Instead he returns to Hubert Davis and the Heels, who are poised to make another big run in 2023.

UCLA junior wing Jamie Jaquez Jr. has made a somewhat surprising decision to return to school for his senior season. He was projected as a late first to mid second rounder this year and will now have a chance to solidify his first round grade and should be one of the stars of college basketball next season. After loosing Payton Watson to the draft the Bruins get a big win with the return of JJJ.

I’ve been beating the drum in the Matthew Cleveland marching band all season and thought he graded out as a first rounder this year. But he’s returning to Tallahassee for year two and is primed to be a breakout star next year. While he might not be a primary scorer type of player he’s a smooth athlete, a great defender, excels in transition and can shoot the rock. He’s just scratching the surface of his potential. Buy stock now!

The Seminoles could be loaded next year if John Butler joins Cleveland in returning to school. So far there’s been no announcement from Butler.

Many of the prospects who are testing the water will ultimately return to school after going through the evaluation process. They have until June 1 (the NCAA deadline) to decide.

The biggest name to enter the transfer portal is Memphis wing Emoni Bates who had a challenging freshman season at Memphis, failing to live up to the unreasonably high expectations. Bates is still a big-time talent but looks more like a late first to early second round guy, not a high lottery pick. He’ll bring a lot of talent and also a lot of national attention to whichever team he joins next.

In other transfer news, one of the most talented players in the transfer portal is burly 6-7 forward Kenneth Loften Jr. who starred at Louisiana Tech this year and for the U.S. U19 team last summer. He’s hard to project to the NBA level because of his lack of height and his post-centric game but he’s a great college player who will help win a lot of games next season for some high major team.

Stay tuned over the next week, as the April 24 deadline approaches. 

3/30/22

In the McDonald’s All American Game last night we saw many future first round picks in action, including about 5 or 6 players who will likely be in the 2023 lottery. Here’s a closer look at who stood out and thoughts on the prospects.

3/29/22

It’s McDonald’s All American Game day and a chance for the nation to get a look at the top prospects in the 2022 recruiting class. Most of these guys are household names for draft fans but it’s always fun to see all the top guys on the same court under the bright lights.

There are a number of college teams that have multiple players in this game including one of the hottest recruiting schools our there in Arkansas – which now has 3 McDonald’s All Americans after Anthony Black committed yesterday. He joins Jordan Walsh and Nick Smith. Other schools with multiple players in the game include the regular blue bloods: Duke (3), Kansas (3), Kentucky (2), UCLA (2) and Texas (2).

Texas recruiting is back in a big way with the addition of high scoring guard Arterio Morris and sky-walking forward Dillon Mitchell, who put on a show in the dunk contest and who will hopefully get a chance to show off his athleticism in the game.

One player I’m excited for, who doesn’t have a national name yet, is Cam Whitmore who is signed with Villanova. He’s a powerful and explosive 6-7 forward who should benefit greatly from developing his skills under Jay Wright. He could be the next Nova player to make it in the league.

In other 2023 draft news it’s all about watching for which college players declare for the 2022 draft and which ones choose to stay in school. The next 2-3 weeks will give us a much clearer picture of how the 2023 draft might look.

A new addition to the 2023 mock is fast-rising Canadian forward Leonard Miller who has yet to sign with a team and could be G-League bound. Miller is a fascinating player who grew 6 inches before his senior year to become a 6-10 point-forward with excellent ball skills. He’s not the most refined player right now but the upside is easy to see. Miller lands in the early second round of the mock but his upside is a lot higher than that.

3/9/22

The Kentucky Wildcats will be a loaded squad next season but the team won’t include 5-star point guard Skyy Clark who recently de-committed and opened up his recruitment. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given the depth of talent that will be on next year’s Kentucky team. Clark has stated that he will be playing college ball next year, as opposed to going a professional route.

One prospect who has been soaring up my 2023 mock is Gonzaga forward Julian Strawther. The 6-7 sophomore has been playing at a high level and is becoming lethal from 3pt range. He’s playing so well that he could end up in the 2022 class. We’ll have to wait and see if he declares this year.

One of my favorite under the radar prospects for 2023 is Florida State guard Jalen Warley. The 6-6 freshmen has great size for the point guard position, plays with poise and composure and is a gifted passer. He’s not the most twitchy athlete but uses his frame well and has plenty of upside to develop. Look for his name to start appearing on more 2023 mocks.

Another jumbo point guard moving up the mock is 6-7 Dalen Terry from Arizona. Terry has a great physical profile, is a really heady player and makes a ton of winning plays, even if he doesn’t always fill up the scoring column. He has clear NBA tools and is developing at a nice rate.

2/4/22

With Shaedon Sharpe now mocked in the 2022 draft Duke commit Dariq Whitehead moves into the no.3 spot in the 2023 mock behind Wemby and Scoot.

Even without Sharpe 2023 is looking like a strong class at this stage with a couple franchise changers at the top and potentially solid depth. Kentucky still has a loaded group of prospects coming in with Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston leading the way. And there seems to be a real chance that freshman Daimion Collins returns for second season… at least it seems like that would be the wise decision. The playing time has not been there this year for Collins and when he has been on the floor he’s looked a bit lost. A second season could do him wonders, letting the game slow down for him and of course giving him more time to add weight to his rail-thin frame. Skyy Clark could be in the mix for 2023 as well.

Along with Dariq Whitehead, Duke has the highly skilled 6-10 forward Kyle Filipowski coming in next season and possibly being a one and done. He’s got a modern skill-set, shoots the ball at a high level, sees the floor well and is an overall force on the offensive end. Filipowski has moved up to the mid first round in the latest mock.

One of the more fascinating stories continues to be the decline of Emoni Bates as a prospect. He’s looked over-matched so far this year at Memphis and his lack of burst and blow-by speed has been evident. There are some rumblings that he’ll not be back at Memphis next year with the G League and Overtime Elite as possibilities. It’s not uncommon for highly ranked recruits to stumble at the college level and see their draft stock fall but Emoni was widely considered an elite prospect and his fall from grace has been particularly abrupt. There’s even a chance he falls to the second round and struggles to make an impact in the NBA.

12/7/21

With the high school and college basketball seasons underway we’ve gotten a closer look at some of the top prospects who are projected to be in the 2023 draft. The top names have gotten some mixed reviews but overall this is looking like a strong group of prospects.

Emoni Bates is off to an up and down start at Memphis. The 17 year old freshman has shown flashes of the advanced scoring game that we all expected, demonstrating his big time shot making ability but also showing an inconsistent touch. Through 8 games, mostly against lesser competition, Bates is shooting just 39/32/69 for 12 points per game. He’s been asked to handle more play-making duties than in the past and has demonstrated some nice court vision and ability to get his team into sets but has a negative assist to turnover ratio and is very much a work in progress as a lead ball handler. He doesn’t seem like a natural point guard and his NBA projection is as a scoring/shot-making wing. This experience with the ball in his hands, however, is valuable for his development. Bates still looks the part of a lottery pick but might not be the elite prospect many of us thought a few years ago.

Kentucky signee Shaedon Sharpe is planning to join the Kentucky program in January but will only practice with the team this year and will wait until next season to play for the Cats. The 6-5 Canadian is a power guard with elite explosiveness, body control and finishing ability. He’s part of an absolutely loaded recruiting class for the Wildcats and is projected as a one and done lottery pick, who could go in the top 3. Sharpe is old enough to enter the 2022 draft however he didn’t graduate high school before the start of the current NBA season, making him in eligible in 2022. In other words, he’ll definitely be playing at Kentucky next season.

Scoot Henderson is having a breakout couple of weeks for the G League Ignite. The 17 year old is proving that not only does he belong at the G League level but that he can have a huge impact. He is right up there with Jaden Hardy as the best prospect on the Ignite team. Henderson has awesome scoring ability, both shooting the ball and getting his own shot in the mid range and taking it all the way to the cup where his size/strength/athleticism are put on display. The top pick in the 2023 draft is likely going to be Victor Wembanyama but Scoot Henderson is right there in the discussion and is currently looking like the second best prospect in 2023. He projects as a possibly elite level NBA point guard.

Keyonte George (Baylor), Dereck Lively (Duke), Amari Bailey (UCLA) and Dariq Whitehead (Duke) all look like one and done lottery picks in 2023. One of the most interesting things for me is to see if these guys (or other prospects) end up overtaking Emoni Bates on the mock drafts and projections. It’s highly possible that a few players will rise into the top 3 conversation and pass some of the more heralded prospects like Emoni.

The 2023 draft will be the first chance to see how the new Overtime Elite League players are evaluated and drafted. Twins Amen and Ausur Thompson are projected as first rounders, potentially lottery picks, while Jazian Gortman and Matt Bewley seem to have first round potential as well. Pre-draft workouts will be especially important for this group of prospects.

9/28/21

Less than two years out from the 2023 NBA draft we’re starting to get a feel for some of the projected lottery picks. The most interesting developments are Emoni Bates and Scoot Henderson leaving high school, with Emoni going to college at Memphis and Scoot joining the G League Ignite. Neither player will be eligible for the 2022 draft but both are likely lottery picks in 2023.

The clear cut no.1 prospect at this point is 7-2 French center Victor Wembanyama who is arguably the best prospect in the world, for any future draft. It would take a major set-back of some sort for Victor to fall from the no.1 spot. He’s like a very rich man’s Kristaps Porzingis; bigger, taller, faster and more talented.

One of the other top 2023 draft prospects is recent Kentucky commit Shaedon Sharpe, who is currently mocked no.3 behind Vic and Emoni. Sharpe is the no.1 ranked player in the new Elite 25 Rankings and has the look of a franchise altering talent. The 6-5 Canadian has a mix of power, explosiveness, body control and shot making that should make him a very high level NBA 2-gaurd. He’ll have to share the rock with a lot of other talented prospects next year at Kentucky but will have every opportunity to showcase his talent.

Another interesting thing about the 2023 draft is that there are a number of high level prospects from the new Overtime Elite pro league (OTE) who project as first rounders. It will be fascinating to watch the development of that league, along with the development of the prospects who have signed there. The Bewley twins (Matt and Ryan) and the Thompson twins (Amen and Ausar) could all be drafted in the 2023 draft, along with a number of other top OTE talents. Amen and Ausur are especially intriguing – wiry, fast and bouncy 6-6 guards with great scoring and play making ability.

It’s too early to say if the 2023 draft will be a strong draft class but there’s certainly some elite talent at the top and a lot of intriguing prospects who currently project as first rounders.

Scoot Henderson
2023 NBA Draft Prospect Scoot Henderson