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Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away, and NBA scouts are gearing up to see top draft prospects on the biggest college basketball stage. Auburn forward Jabari Smith has taken over the top spot after a strong showing in February. He's combined for 59 points in two games, including 11 3-pointers, making him the best shooting big man in this draft class and a complete triple threat on offense.
NBA scouts have flocked to Lexington, Kentucky, to get eyes on Shaedon Sharpe, who is sitting out the second semester after joining the team in December. The feedback from NBA personnel has been all positive after seeing the former No. 1 high school player. Even in the layup lines in games he's not playing, he's the most impressive prospect on the court, showcasing his athleticism above the rim and consistent 3-point jump shot. The debate of whether he will declare for 2022 NBA draft continues, but all signs point to Sharpe entering if he remains a potential top-five pick.
Here's Yahoo Sports' latest look at the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.
(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Feb. 20.)
1. Orlando Magic: F Jabari Smith
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Auburn: 15.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Karl-Anthony Towns declared himself the best 3-point shooting big in the NBA after winning the 3-Point Contest on Saturday evening during All-Star Weekend, but that title could be short-lived with Smith entering the league next season. The Auburn freshman is the best shooting power forward in college basketball, averaging 43.3% from 3-point range this season. He loves stepping into his jump shot and will let it fly in transition or off the pick-and-pop. He has solid footwork in the post and loves to use his right pivot foot in a turnaorund fadeaway jump shot from the corner, a shot he's hit in the last few games.
Smith has poise on the court that is well beyond his years and is not afraid of the big shot or big moment in games to swing the momentum back to Auburn. His confidence and ease in which the game comes to him makes him an intriguing pick at No. 1.
2. Detroit Pistons: C Chet Holmgren
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 196 pounds | Class: Freshman | Gonzaga: 14.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.3 bpg
Holmgren has started to dominate the paint in the West Coast Conference, and No. 1 Gonzaga has fallen into a good rhythm, beating conference opponents by an average of 30 points in league play. In February, the 7-footer is averaging 16 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and two assists per game. He's showing more initiative in the grab-and-go off a missed shot on defense and is finding shooters with ease out of double-teams. Holmgren is now stepping into 3-point jump shots with confidence and avoiding taking an extra dribble to get set. In a win over Portland at the January, Holmgren finished with 12 points, all 3-pointers.
Early in the season, Holmgren had trouble against tougher competition and all eyes will be on him during the NCAA tournament to see how he sizes up against faster guards and stronger players in the post.
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 16.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.8 apg
Banchero has recorded eight double-doubles this season and continues to show NBA scouts he can be a ball-handling big at the next level. His 3-point shooting continues to be a point of development after connecting on only five 3-pointers on 21 attempts so far in February. He has great size in the post and is an elite passer out of the high post. In the first head-to-head matchup between Banchero and Holmgren, Banchero came out as the better prospect as Duke defeated Gonzaga in November. Hopefully, the two will meet for Round 2 in the NCAA tournament.
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Purdue: 17 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.1 apg
Ivey's 3-point jumper has cooled off recently, but he's still finding ways to impact the game offensively. He ranks in the 91st percentile in isolation plays, scoring 1.1 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports. If the clock is winding down, the Boilermakers are looking for Ivey at the end of the shot clock and he's consistently getting off a good shot. Ivey worked out with Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant last summer and there are glimpses of similarities in the way Ivey finishes around the rim, including a poster finish over two Rutgers players while driving the baseline. The combo guard had a strong showing in the NCAA tournament last year. Look for him to turn on another gear as Purdue prepares to make a big run this year.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 20, 2022
5. Indiana Pacers: G Shaedon Sharpe
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky: Has not played this season
Sharpe continues to be the topic of national discussion even though he hasn't played this season. Head coach John Calipari has double downed and said Sharpe is planning on playing at Kentucky next season and even projected him as the No. 1 draft pick in the 2023 NBA draft.
“If this kid comes back, he’s the No. 1 draft pick, in my mind,” Calipari told reporters earlier this month. “He’s the No. 1 draft pick. How can I say I know what a No. 1 draft pick looks like? Because I’ve had four. That’s why I can say what it looks like. He could be the No. 1 draft pick.”
Calipari might be confident in what's he's seen from Sharpe in practice, but there's still no guarantee Sharpe will be the clear-cut No. 1 pick next year with 7-foot-2 French phenom Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson looming.
Even with the small sample size of practice and warmups during games, Sharpe's upside is undeniable. He has a natural feel for the game, is extremely athletic and is a young player who will adjust well to the pace and spacing of the NBA game.
6. Sacramento Kings: C Jalen Duren
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 250 pounds | Class: Freshman | Memphis: 11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.2 bpg
Duren is 18 months younger than Holmgren and should technically be a high school senior this year. His steady adjustment to the college game has been encouraging, especially during a season filled with recent drama surrounding teammate Emoni Bates. Duren is a raw talent with a more old-school post game, attempting only one 3-pointer this season. His passing is underrated, and he's made some good reads this season, finding the open man out of double-teams. Duren has scored in double digits in the last six games in just 25 minutes per game.
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Iowa: 23.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2 apg
Murray is a long 3-and-D wing who is leading the Big Ten in scoring and shooting 37% from 3-point range. He had a season-high 37 points in a win over Nebraska on Feb. 13 and also added six rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 29 minutes. Murray does an extremely good job recognizing mismatch situations and ranks in the 98th percentile in post-ups, averaging 1.3 points per possession. He's remained consistent all season and can be a plug-and-play guy right away at the NBA level and give solid rotational minutes.
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 194 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Wisconsin: 20.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
Davis continues to have a solid year and recorded his third 30-plus game in a win over Indiana last week. He averages 16 shots per game and loves to get downhill whenever he can. Davis is one of the best pick-and-roll ball-handlers in the Big Ten and reads the defense extremely well. His 3-point shot needs some improvement, shooting just 33% this season. After his meteoric rise up draft boards earlier this season, Davis continues to play and prove he's a potential top-10 pick.
9. New York Knicks: G/F A.J. Griffin
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 222 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Griffin was plagued by injuries during his high school career and was even battling a preseason knee injury earlier this season. Since returning to the court, Griffin is showcasing his strength in the lane and body control around the basket. His offensive presence has started to take shape on this talented Duke team, and he is averaging 13 points and four rebounds in 29 minutes. His role is increasing as the season goes on, and Griffin and Banchero are dream options on the wing or short corner for guards Wendell Moore and Trevor Keels.
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Arizona: 17.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.2 apg
The Arizona Wildcats are the No. 3 team in the country, and Mathurin has a lot to do with that. The Canadian sharpshooter has scored 20 or more points in the last three games and has really established a leadership role on the court in his sophomore season. Mathurin is a chameleon on the court and has the maturity to shine in whatever offensive set that's thrown at him. He's a player who gets better and more confident as the season goes on and is still only 19.
11. Memphis Grizzlies: G Jaden Hardy
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 198 pounds | G League Ignite: 17.7 ppg, 3.2 apg
Hardy has struggled with his shot selection during G League play, but his raw talent is undeniable. Just 19 years old, he has great instincts on offense and might be overthinking it this year playing at the professional level. As a high school prospect, he was more relaxed on the court and was one of the best scorers in America. Hardy didn't just settle for the deep, step-back 3-point shot, but he also got to the rim frequently with his footwork off the dribble. Hopefully, we see more of his downhill speed and physicality at the rim as his career progresses. If he drops outside the top 10, he'll be a steal in this draft class.
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky: 12.4 ppg, 4.1 apg
Washington was recently sidelined with an ankle injury after reinjuring it during a loss to No. 16 Tennessee on Feb. 15. Washington is one of the most competitive guards in this draft class and is a high-upside player, despite some inconsistent games this season. The 6-foot-3 freshman is playing more off the ball with junior Sahvir Wheeler running the point. Washington is second in points and assists on this talented Kentucky team and averages only 28 minutes per game. The Wildcats could make a deep run in the tournament, and if Washington is healthy, he could rise up the rankings and be a top-10 pick.
13. Atlanta Hawks: G/F MarJon Beauchamp
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 175 pounds | G League Ignite: 15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
Beauchamp has a steady jumper that has improved over the last year. Beauchamp spent the summer working out with 17-year veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller and the improvement on his jump shot is apparent in his one year on the G League Ignite team. Beauchamp has good speed in transition and is not afraid to take the shot with a defender in his face. His biggest improvement is on the defensive end with his lateral quickness and ability to sit down and guard every position on the wing.
14. Charlotte Hornets: G Jean Montero
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 172 pounds | Overtime Elite: 17.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 8 apg
Montero is a speedy guard who is a phenomenal passer, sometimes hitting a teammate 80 feet away in transition. He's a true floor general who took a chance on joining the inaugural Overtime Elite Team, and it's a move that hasn't hurt his draft stock at all. He has no problem scoring against high school and prep-level talent, but his real test will come in the NBA draft combine and individual team workouts.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Tari Eason
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 216 pounds | Class: Sophomore | LSU: 16.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg
16. Houston Rockets: G Blake Wesley
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Notre Dame: 14.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Milwaukee: 12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg
18. San Antonio Spurs: G Ochai Agbaji
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Senior | Kansas: 19.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg
19. San Antonio Spurs: F Nikola Jovic
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 205 pounds | Serbia | Mega Basket: 10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg
20. Denver Nuggets: F E.J. Liddell
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 240 pounds | Class: Junior | Ohio State: 19.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.9 apg
21. Dallas Mavericks: G/F Kendall Brown
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Baylor: 9.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
22. Milwaukee Bucks: G Wendell Moore
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 213 pounds | Class: Junior | Duke: 13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.5 apg
23. Indiana Pacers: G Kennedy Chandler
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 171 pounds | Class: Freshman | Tennessee: 13.3 ppg, 4.9 apg
24. Brooklyn Nets: G Malaki Branham
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 180 pounds | Class: Freshman | Ohio State: 10.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg
25. Memphis Grizzlies: G/F Harrison Ingram
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 230 pounds | Class: Freshman | Stanford: 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3 apg
26. Miami Heat: G Dyson Daniels
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Australia | G League Ignite: 11.3 ppg, 4.4 apg
27. Chicago Bulls: G JD Davison
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | Alabama: 8.6 ppg, 4 apg
28. Memphis Grizzlies: F Oscar Tshiebwe
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 255 pounds | Class: Junior | Kentucky: 16.2 ppg, 15.3 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 242 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke: 10.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3 bpg
Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 245 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Auburn: 12 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.7 bpg