2023 NBA Mock Draft: Champions Classic kicks off college basketball season; who are the top prospects to watch?

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The 2022-23 college basketball season tipped off last week, but the Champions Classic always feels like the true start to the new season.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, four of the most prestigious programs in college hoops will face off at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, with No. 4 Kentucky taking on Michigan State and No. 7 Duke taking on No. 5 Kansas.

There will be plenty of NBA-level talent on display at the Champions Classic, giving fans a prime opportunity to get their first look at some of the top college basketball prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft class. With freshmen like Cason Wallace (Kentucky), Dereck Lively (Duke), Kyle Filipowski (Duke) and Gradey Dick (Kansas) taking the floor, you won’t want to miss your first opportunity to catch these young stars on the national stage.

While Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson’s seasons are already underway — and both top prospects are living up to the hype — there are still plenty of college basketball players who you will want to watch as the season goes on. 24 of the 30 projected first-rounders in this preseason Mock Draft are competing in the NCAA, shaping up for an awesome season of college hoops for NBA fans looking to scout the next generation of talent.

2023 NBA Mock Draft

1. Victor Wembanyama, France — Metropolitans 92

Age: 18

Position: Center

Height and weight: 7-4, 210 lbs.

The 7-foot-4 wunderkind has been as good as advertised for Metropolitans 92 this season, averaging 21.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.7 assists per game while producing jaw-dropping highlights every time he steps on the floor.

Wembanyama is the sure-fire No. 1 overall pick and there isn’t much debate.

MORE: Who is Victor Wembanyama? Why French center is the likely No. 1 pick in 2023 NBA Draft

2. Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite

Age: 18

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-2, 195 lbs.

Henderson has wasted no time to prove why he’s the projected No. 2 pick in this draft class, averaging 22.7 points, 9.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals over his first three games of his sophomore season with the Ignite.

The 18-year-old is showing major signs of improvement in key areas already. Henderson has been much more disruptive as a perimeter defender, he’s knocking down 37.5 percent of his 3-point attempts and he’s coming off of a career-best 16-assist performance to show his growth as a playmaker.

In just about any other draft class that doesn’t have a 7-foot-4 unicorn with wing skills, Henderson would be the No. 1 pick.

MORE: Scoot Henderson is much more than a consolation prize in Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes

3. Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-5, 185 lbs.

Smith — like a handful of star freshmen in this draft class — has missed the start of the season as Arkansas is taking a precautious route with his right knee injury. Smith is only considered “day-to-day,” per head coach Eric Musselman, so the 18-year-old should be good to make his debut sooner rather than later.

When he does, you’ll get to see why the shifty and athletic guard is projected to be the first college basketball player off the board. He’s shifty with a tight handle and a smooth jumper from both the perimeter and midrange, making him a pure three-level scorer. If he can utilize his 6-foot-9 wingspan and wiry energy on the defensive end of the floor, he’ll be a complete prospect.

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

Age: 19

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-7, 202 lbs.

Amen is one of two Thompson twins who project as top-10 picks. He is off to a solid start in his second season with Overtime Elite, averaging 13.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists through two games. Amen is a freak athlete with insane hops and great breakaway speed. He’s quick with the ball in his hands and scores with ease at the rim, and his playmaking gives him an edge over his brother as a prospect. However, both the Thompson twins need to improve their perimeter shooting to round out their game for the next level.

MORE: Get to know Overtime Elite stars: Amen, Ausar Thompson

5. Cam Whitmore, Villanova

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-7, 232 lbs.

Whitmore has missed the start of the season after a right thumb injury suffered during preseason required surgery, but he is expected to return at some point in November. The 18-year-old will be one of the best prospects in the country when he takes the floor as a powerful athlete with a blend of size and strength. He’s a force around the basket and dunks everything, bullying his way to the rim off the dribble or using his explosive leaping ability to throw down lobs.

With a year in Villanova’s renowned player development system, Whitmore will be a one-and-done talent ready for the NBA.

6. Dariq Whitehead, Duke

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-7, 220 lbs.

Whitehead is another freshman star who has missed the start of the season due to injury. The 18-year-old fractured his foot back in August and according to head coach Jon Scheyer, he has just been cleared for contact at practice. While we’ll likely have to wait a few more weeks before seeing Whitehead take the floor, the three-level scorer will immediately become Duke’s go-to scoring option.

MORE: Ranking the 10 best freshmen in college basketball

7. Jarace Walker, Houston

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-8, 240 lbs.

Start getting used to seeing Walker’s name in the top 10 of Mock Drafts because Houston’s star freshman is gaining some serious momentum already this season. The 6-8 forward is built like an edge rusher, yet moves fluidly with a powerful and physical presence. He’s proving to be a versatile defensive stopper and is averaging a double-double of 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds through his first two games. Keep Walker’s name prominent on your radar.

8. Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite

Age: 19

Position: Guard/Forward

Height and weight: 6-7, 207 lbs.

Ausar is the other half of the Thompson twins who are projected to be selected in the top 10 of this year’s draft. He’s off to a hot start to his second OTE season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Even more impressive is his effort on the defensive end, where he has used his length, quickness and instincts to tally eight steals and three blocks through two games. Ausar’s jumpshot concerns are the same as his brother’s but his athleticism and disruptive defense will translate to the next level immediately.

9. Cason Wallace, Kentucky

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-4, 193 lbs.

Wallace is one of the best playmaking guards in this draft class and he already showed that on opening night, dishing out nine assists in his Kentucky debut. The freshman floor general plays with a commanding pace and he’s a capable shot creator with crisp mechanics. Wallace is also a pesky perimeter defender, making him a complete package as a point guard prospect.

10. Keyonte George, Baylor

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-4, 185 lbs.

George is already trending in the right direction at the start of the college basketball season. The 18-year-old shooting guard was already known to be a prolific scorer but the biggest surprise has been his growth as a playmaker, posting seven assists in each of his first two games. Already an elite shot creator and physical perimeter defender, George could really see his stock rise if he remains consistent with his passing.

11. Dillon Mitchell, Texas

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-8, 205 lbs.

Mitchell’s defensive versatility is his calling card as an NBA prospect. He’s a “game-changer” on the defensive end to quote his head coach, Chris Beard. He’s a lockdown perimeter defender and elite shot blocker, and he brings a ton of energy to the glass on both ends of the floor. If he can develop his offensive repertoire to incorporate a post game and reliable jumper then he’ll really take his stock up a notch.

12. Dereck Lively, Duke

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Center

Height and weight: 7-1, 230 lbs.

Lively missed the first game of the season with a calf injury but the star freshman has already returned to the court. He’s on a minutes restriction early on — only playing 15 minutes in his debut — but Lively will surely be an impact player once he finds his footing. He’s a dominant rebounder with a high motor, an agile rim-runner, lengthy rim protector and a powerful dunker. Showing flashes of a shooting touch, Lively could be the best big-man prospect in this class after Wembanyama.

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(Getty Images)

13. Gradey Dick, Kansas

Age: 17, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-8, 205 lbs.

Dick doesn’t pop up in the lottery on most Mock Drafts at this point in the season but I love the way the Kansas freshman’s game translates to the next level. The 2022 National Gatorade Player of the Year has the size, mobility and athleticism to become a 3-point specialist in the NBA. He has limitless range, shooting with a high release and can knock down shots off the catch, dribble, or flying off of screens. Going for 23 points with four 3s in his season-opener was just a preview of what Dick will do for the Jayhawks this year.

14. Terquavion Smith, NC State

Age: 19, Sophomore

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-4, 165 lbs.

Smith was one of the biggest risers at last year’s NBA Draft Combine, showing his electrifying quickness and competitive demeanor. His speed, agility and first step make him a nightmare for defenders trying to keep him from blowing by. He’s fearless when he attacks and shoots the ball with confidence. It feels like a breakout season is on the way for Smith, who is averaging 22.5 points on .556/.438 shooting splits through the first two games.

15. Anthony Black, Arkansas

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-7, 198 lbs.

Black is one of Arkansas’ three projected first-round picks and he should thrive playing off of a guard like Smith when he returns. He’s a slasher in every sense of the word, knifing through defenses to get to the rim or cutting hard into space for easy buckets. He has quick hands and keen defensive instincts, making him a two-way prospect.

16. Rayan Rupert, NZ Breakers (NBL, Australia)

Age: 18

Position: Forward/Guard

Height and weight: 6-7, 190 lbs.

Rupert’s potential feels similar to that of Ousmane Dieng, who came over from the NBL’s Next Stars program and was selected in the lottery last season. The NBL Next Stars product is playing 20 minutes per game for the Breakers, but he’s only averaging 6.2 points and 2.3 rebounds. He has positional versatility on both sides of the ball and he’s a willing shooter and shot creator, but Rupert would be a development project for the team that selects him.

17. Amari Bailey, UCLA

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-5, 185 lbs.

Bailey is a physical guard who invites contact when he gets to the rim. He’s explosive off the bounce and attacks the basket with an attitude, using his balance and body control to finish through or around defenders. He’s a pure scorer with a confident handle but he’ll have to make the most of his opportunity playing off the ball next to veteran guard Tyger Campbell. Sharing playmaking duties should benefit Bailey’s growth as an NBA prospect.

18. Kel’el Ware, Oregon

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Center

Height and weight: 7-0, 210 lbs.

Ware fits the mold of a stretch-five in the NBA today. He has a soft shooting touch from the perimeter — and the height and length to protect the rim. He could be more physical on his finishes around the basket but the 18-year-old already looks like he’s added some weight and muscle heading into his freshman year, which bodes well for his draft stock.

19. Arthur Kaluma, Creighton

Age: 20, Sophomore

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-7, 225 lbs.

Kaluma came on strong at the end of the season last year, showing he can be the type of 3-and-D prospect NBA teams are looking for. At 6-7, 220 lbs. with a 7-foot wingspan, he’s a versatile defender who has the strength to hold up against bigs and the quickness to stick with perimeter players. He’ll have to make 3s with more consistency this season compared to last, but he’s started the season shooting 2-for-9 from deep. If he can prove to be a knockdown 3-point shooter, Kaluma will solidify himself as a first-round pick.

20. GG Jackson, South Carolina

Age: 17, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-10, 215 lbs.

Jackson is one of the youngest players in this draft class, as the 17-year-old doesn’t turn 18 until December. He reclassified to the class of 2022 but already looks the part of an NBA prospect. He has NBA size but moves exceptionally well for someone who is 6-10, 215 lbs. He’s capable of creating his own shot and scoring off the bounce, using his athleticism to finish around the rim. Jackson is also developing a perimeter jumper, going 3-for-5 from 3 in his first two games. He is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class and could rise into the lottery with a strong freshman season.

21. Brandon Miller, Alabama

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-9, 200 lbs.

Miller’s name is already picking up some steam as a prospect early on in the season. The pure scoring threat is an above-average shot creator for his size and has a smooth jumper in the midrange and out of the post. He’s averaging 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds over his first two games and has shown promising growth as a defender as well. Keep a close eye on Miller because his stock is on the rise.

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(Getty Images)

22. Marcus Sasser, Houston

Age: 22, Senior

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-2, 195 lbs.

Sasser is a preseason All-American who would be able to add some depth to an NBA backcourt immediately. He has improved every year in college, developing into a strong perimeter defender and improving 3-point shooter. Sasser is coming off of a season-ending toe injury but the 22-year-old already looks sharp to start his senior year. He’ll be the engine of a Houston squad that has championship aspirations, and the Cougars will go as Sasser goes.

23. Julian Phillips, Tennessee

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-8, 198 lbs.

Phillips is an athletic forward who has the defensive versatility that all NBA teams are looking for on the wing. He’s a long and physical defender, he runs lanes hard in transition and he’s a lob threat as an off-ball cutter. If he can develop a more consistent jumper, he’ll be a 3-and-D prospect at the next level.

24. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Foward/Center

Height and weight: 7-0, 230 lbs.

Filipowski has gotten out to a strong start to the season, stepping up in a big way with his frontcourt mate, Lively, limited due to injury. He’s posted a double-double in his first two games, he’s proved to be a reliable rim protector and his 3-point shot has looked smooth. While Lively’s return could be seen as limiting for Filipowski, I believe it will force him to adjust to a role more similar to what he would play in the NBA.

25. Kris Murray, Iowa

Age: 22, Junior

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-8, 220 lbs.

Kris is the brother of 2022 top-five pick, Keegan Murray. Murray tested the draft waters last season but elected to return to Iowa for his junior year. He has a nearly identical build to his brother, with positional versatility on defense and 3-and-D potential at the next level as a consistent perimeter shooter. He should thrive in his new role as the Hawkeyes’ go-to option on offense, boosting his draft stock.

26. Tyrese Proctor, Duke

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-5, 175 lbs.

Proctor was one of the top-ranked players in the Class of 2023 before he elected to reclassify to 2022 and attend Duke this season. The Australian 18-year-old is a pure point guard with a quick and shifty handle. He’s a playmaker who doesn’t get sped up, playing with plenty of poise. Proctor is set to face a challenge during his freshman season, having to learn how to play off the ball next to junior captain Jeremy Roach. It could be beneficial for his long-term development, but it will also hinder his ability to showcase his best skills.

27. Chris Livingston, Kentucky

Age: 19, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-6, 220 lbs.

Livingston has earned a starting spot for head coach John Calipari, giving him an awesome opportunity to show what he’s capable of as an NBA prospect. He’s an above-the-rim athlete with size and length on the wing and an explosive leaper who is at his best attacking the rim, throwing down dunks or finishing tough layups in traffic. He has smooth jumpshot mechanics, he crashes the glass with energy and he has all the tools to be a versatile defender. Competing for a loaded Kentucky team should only benefit his draft stock.

28. Caleb Love, North Carolina

Age: 21, Junior

Position: Guard

Height and weight: 6-4, 200 lbs.

Love had a breakout NCAA Tournament last year, playing a huge role in North Carolina’s run to the National Championship game. He’s a pure scorer and shot creator with all of the advanced pull-ups and stepbacks you see from some of the best guards in the NBA. However, Love’s shot consistency will determine where he lands in the draft. Through the first two games, he’s shooting a career-best 48.3 percent from the field but he’s struggling to find a rhythm from 3, shooting 15.4 percent from long range. He has the potential to be a microwave scorer off the bench at the next level.

29. Jordan Walsh, Arkansas

Age: 18, Freshman

Position: Forward

Height and weight: 6-7, 205 lbs.

Walsh is the third of three Arkansas freshmen projected to go in the first round. Walsh is wiry and energetic, using his 7-3 wingspan to wreak havoc on the defensive end. He’s explosive when he attacks off the dribble, inviting contact on his way to the basket before rising up to challenge anyone at the rim. The consistency of his perimeter shot during his freshman season will determine his ceiling as a draft prospect.

30. Leonard Miller, G League Ignite

Age: 18

Position: Forward/Guard

Height and weight: 6-10, 210 lbs.

Miller tested the waters at the NBA Draft Combine last season but elected to take his talents to the G League Ignite for an extra season of development. He was a primary scorer in high school at Fort Erie International Academy but he projects as more of a versatile defender and energy guy at the next level. He has raw playmaking ability and can create his own shot, he just has to knock down jumpers with more consistency. How his first Ignite season shakes out will determine if Miller lands in the first round or not.

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