Breakout Stars to Watch in College Basketball Before Next NBA Draft

College basketball produces many of the future stars of the NBA, so watching these games lets you get an idea of who will be highly sought after in the next draft for the pro league.  Who are the top stars in the NCAA that we can expect to see join the NBA soon?

Jabari Smith The Auburn Tigers 

Many analysts think that Jabari Smith could be the top pick in the 2022 NBA draft and that he will certainly be in the top three. His chances to impress NBA teams in March Madness ended quickly, with the second-seeded Auburn Tigers losing out to Miami in the early stages of the tournament as Smith struggled with this shooting. 

However, Jabari has undoubtedly done enough before March to warrant getting a good deal from one of the top pro teams. He said after the loss to Miami that he doesn’t know where he will end up. Some of the recent mock drafts see him going to the Houston Rockets as the second overall pick in the draft.

Chet Holmgren – The Gonzaga Bulldogs

The latest mock drafts suggest that Chet Holmgren could be the first overall pick in the 2022 draft, which would see him heading to the Orlando Magic. This slightly-built, 7-foot-tall center has posted sensational numbers since moving to the Bulldogs, although some doubts may remain about his physical ability to compete in the pro league.

Blocking and shooting three-pointers are among his key skills that have made Chet one of the most talked-about prospects in years. He’s been impressing in the NCAA tournament as the Bulldogs progress. 

At the time of writing, Gonzaga is getting ready for a Sweet 16 game against Arkansas, and you can be sure that plenty of NBA scouts has their eyes on Holmgren during it. You can find out more about Gonzaga’s chances in the NCAA tournament here: https://www.bovada.lv/sports/basketball/college-basketball 

Paolo Banchero – The Duke Blue Devils

The expected third pick in the NBA draft, Paolo Banchero could soon be taking his scoring and rebounding skills to the Detroit Pistons. He showed what he had to offer in his very first game for Duke, by scoring 22 points on a highly impressive debut. 

Banchero pointed out during March Madness that the Blue Devils had done better than many people had expected, beating Michigan State to get through the second round tie. He is one of several Duke players who could be in the NBA draft this year, so this is definitely a team to look out for in the later stages.

Jaden Ivey – The Purdue Boilermakers

One of the hottest prospects in college basketball right now, Jaden Ivey is arguably the most complete athlete available in the 2022 draft. He is a 6 foot 4 shooting guard who has been impressing spectators since joining the Boilermakers as a consensus four-star recruit.

In terms of March Madness, Jaden led the way for his team by scoring 22 points when they recorded their first win, against Yale. Purdue then beat Texas to move into the Sweet 16 stage, with Jaden scoring 18 points, 15 of which came in the second half. They are still behind the favorites like Gonzaga, Kansas, and Arizona in the betting for this tournament, though.

AJ Griffin – The Duke Blue Devils

Another of the Duke players expected to find a good team in the draft’s early rounds this year, AJ Griffin has divided opinions with his performances, leading him to appear in some very different positions on the mock drafts drawn up so far. What’s not in doubt is that he is hugely important to the Blue Devils thanks to his accurate three-point shooting skills and overall play.

AJ recently got injured as the Blue Devils beat Michigan State to move into the Sweet 16 round of March Madness. The team will be hoping that he is back soon to try and help them get past the Texas Tech Red Raiders and into the next round. If he gets fit and carries on impressing, he could get picked as high as fourth in the draft, according to some experts.

Jalen Duren – The Memphis Tigers

Standing at 6 foot 11 tall, this center for the Memphis Tigers was a five-star recruit and rated as one of the very best players in the 2021 class. He was actually rated as the top prospect for 2022 before reclassifying and ended the regular season strongly to boost the Tigers’ chances of winning the NCAA tournament. 

His scoring average is close to 14 points and eight rebounds in the recent period, and he was named American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year. Duren has said that, “I always shoot to be the best, nothing less” and he inspired his team to the second round of March Madness, where they lost out to the number one seed and many people’s favorites, Gonzaga.

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