The 10 Youngest Prospects In the 2023 NBA Draft

As I’ve stated before young prospects tend to have a lot of intrigue and allure but come with a lot more risk. Passing on a proven player for the promise of future upside isn’t always a wise decision. Still, it’s hard not to get excited about the upside potential of a 18 or 19 year old draft pick. With so much basketball development ahead of them, it can seem like the sky is the limit.

We could see seven or eight of these players drafted in the first round but whether those selections end up working out for the teams that draft them…time will tell.

Here are the 10 youngest prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft:

  1. GG Jackson – SF/PF – South Carolina – There are a lot of varied opinions about GG Jackson. Some scouts have him as a top 10 prospect in this class while other scouts have him outside of the first round. I fall in the middle, seeing Jackson as a decent swing for the fences type of pick just outside the top 10 and a great value in the late teens or early 20s.  GG will be just 18.5 years old on draft day and already shows impressive flashes of offensive talent and overall athleticism. His immaturity showed at times this past season but given that he could have still been in high school I wouldn’t make a big deal of it. There’s boom or bust potential with Jackson but I’d bet on the boom.
  2. Dariq Whitehead – SF – Duke – This one always surprises me. I’ve been following Dariq’s career for the past four years and so I tend to think of him as an older prospect who’s been around for a awhile. But he’ll be just 18.9 years old on draft day, meaning he’ll play his entire rookie season as a teenager. If healthy I’d have him as a mid first round pick but with his second foot surgery in less than a year I think he’d be a better value in the late first to early second round.
  3. Noah Clowney – PF – Alabama – I’m a really big fan of Clowney’s game and believe in his upside. He’ll probably take a few years to really impact the NBA game but he’s got the frame, the skills and is putting in the work to get there. I’d draft him in the 20s and if he falls to the second round he could be one of the steals of the draft. He’ll be just 18.9 years old on draft day and has a ton of upside left to grow in to.
  4. Bilal Coulibaly – SF – France – Wemby’s teammate on Mets 92, Coulibaly is right up there with the Thompson twins as the most impressive athlete in this class. His draft day age is 18.9YO and he’s already been productive playing at a high level in France. He’s not a household name but when it’s all said and done he could be one of the top 10 players in this draft class.
  5. James Nnaji – C – Spain – Another 18.9YO on draft day, Nnaji is a monster in the paint with a rock solid frame and exceptional length. He’s a very instinctual defender and has a feel for defense that belies his age. He might not get a lot of buzz but I think NBA teams will be very intrigued with him and look to draft him in the mid 20’s. I see him as a poor man’s Jalen Duren, who was under-drafted last year.
  6. Cam Whitmore – SF – Villanova – Whitmore is another player who is built like a man but will be just 19YO on draft day. He’s one of the most explosive players in the draft and is an overpowering force on his drives to the cup. He’s got a ways to go as a passer and decision-making but has plenty of time to figure out the finer points of the game. He could go as high as no.5 and has the upside talent to warrant such a high draft pick.
  7. Rayan Rupert – SF – NBL (France) – Another long and lengthy French wing, Rupert will be just 19.1 years old on draft day. He had an up and down year for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL and missed time with a wrist injury. It remains to be seen what he can become on the offensive end but he’s got elite defensive tools and ability. His 7-2 wingspan, quick hands and quick feet make him a defensive menace who can guard up and down the line-up. Given his youth and natural abilities, I’d bet on him developing his offensive game in time.
  8. Nick Smith Jr. – SG – Arkansas – After a tough season in which he missed time with a nagging knee injury NSJ has dropped on most draft boards. But now he’s healthy and looking good in the pre-draft process. His shooting ability and his high school pedigree could keep his draft stock in the mid first round. I’m a buyer of his scoring ability but not super impressed with his speed or ability to get separation. These shortcomings could keep him from becoming a star. Still, he’ll be just 19.2YO on draft day and so he has time to continue to develop his athletic abilities.
  9. Amari Bailey – SG – UCLA – Bailey is another name that’s been around for so many years that it’s easy to forget just how young he is (19.3YO on draft day). He’s a strong, athletic and aggressive player who doesn’t back down from a challenge. I think he’ll be an impact player in the league but not necessarily a starter anytime soon. He’ll have to continue to hone his outside shot to reach his potential but his defense, slashing and overall high energy on the court will win him fans in NBA front offices. There’s a chance he goes late first but my guess is he’ll come off the board in the 31-45 range.
  10. Jordan Walsh – SF – Arkansas – Walsh has yet to announce if he’s staying in the draft. He projects as a second round pick who will probably need a year or two in the G League before being NBA ready. If he stays in this year he’ll be 19.3YO on draft day. He’s got a ton of upside and is already a high level defender but I think it’ll take some time for his offensive game to reach a level to where he can get consistent NBA minutes.

Note: Ousmane N’Diaye and Nikola Durisic will also be 9.3YO on draft day.

2023 NBA Mock Draft