The 2022-23 males’s faculty basketball season is quick approaching — and with it, the inevitable lists of greatest gamers. As an alternative of the normal rankings, nonetheless, ESPN’s crew of Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Myron Medcalf thought-about a unique method this time round: What in the event that they held a university basketball mock draft, with every constructing a fantasy crew of eight gamers, together with 5 starters and three reserves?
Armed with stats and their experience, the would-be GMs selected a draft technique (snake) and an order (decided by birthday). There have been additionally two stipulations. One, every common supervisor could not draft a couple of participant from a specific crew. Moreover, every crew wanted to incorporate a mid-major participant not from Gonzaga.
Eight rounds and a bonus coach decide later, listed below are the highest 24 gamers getting into the 2022-23 season, in keeping with our consultants. Which crew appears to be like greatest heading into the brand new season? Learn on for his or her reasoning — and ribbing. And soar to the complete rosters right here.
I initially did not need the No. 1 decide, simply because I wished to see how my opponents would method the draft. Would they lean towards taking the perfect NBA expertise or towards confirmed faculty gamers? Nonetheless, it did not take me lengthy to determine: the reigning consensus Nationwide Participant of the 12 months, the man who shattered all kinds of information and put up 30 factors and 16 rebounds in his remaining sport final season. Completed and carried out.
See, because of this I attempted to commerce up within the draft. Reigning Wood Award winners aren’t normally accessible for the taking the next season. Properly carried out, Jeff! Proper, Jackson-Davis. One of many final instances we noticed him, he was successfully going toe-to-toe (31 factors) with Iowa’s Keegan Murray (32) within the Massive Ten event, and it seems choosing Murray at No. 4 within the NBA draft lower than 4 months in the past might work out fairly properly for the Sacramento Kings. Additionally, I like outdated guys on this unusual new faculty hoops period of ours, and TJD will greet March as a 23-year-old geezer.
Jeff did an excellent job grabbing the perfect participant in faculty basketball. Another person might need picked a participant with extra NBA upside. That might have been the fallacious alternative. And Gasaway is without doubt one of the smartest minds within the sport. However I noticed too many moments final season when Jackson-Davis fell brief in huge moments. I am not attempting to win the Massive Ten. I would like the nationwide championship. So I am going to take Gonzaga’s greatest participant throughout final season’s Candy 16 run. Chet Holmgren showcased sufficient of his elite presents within the NCAA event to safe a top-three spot within the NBA draft. However Timme (27.3 PPG, 11.3 PPG within the 2022 NCAA event), who is perhaps getting into his nineteenth season, will make one other run on the Wood Award this season.
UCLA finishes the primary half in type as Tyger Campbell lays it in to place the Bruins up by double digits.
Um, the place are the purpose guards? I am unsure. In a world the place each guard is a combo guard now, it is tough to discover a pure PG to run a crew. However I believe Campbell’s progress over the previous three seasons has been ignored. Final yr, he shot 41% from 3 and 84% from the free throw line. He additionally had a career-best turnover price (12.9%). And, after taking part in in Los Angeles, he will not be intimidated in a locker room filled with stars.
Did I say one thing about liking outdated geezers? That is tremendous so far as it goes, however final yr, youngsters resembling Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero regarded fairly good too. With that in thoughts, I am going to nab Smith earlier than one in every of you guys will get him. At 6-foot-5, the No. 3 decide within the 2022 recruiting class already seems to be each an environment friendly quantity scorer and a clean decision-maker as an 18-year-old lead guard. Each phrase in that sentence says “lottery decide,” however Smith ought to first give the Razorbacks one particular yr. A shooter and distributor who additionally finishes.
I’d have taken Smith; I simply love his dimension, his capacity to create for himself and others, in addition to his outdoors taking pictures. However Jaquez (and my subsequent decide) are nice comfort prizes. Jaquez is a matchup nightmare for many opponents, and he needs to be totally wholesome subsequent season. I typically do not wish to assemble two-big lineups, so he ought to slot in properly on the 4.
Take a look at the highest performs from Houston’s Marcus Sasser, who’s season was reduce brief resulting from damage.
A totally wholesome Sasser is without doubt one of the premier scorers in faculty basketball. He was averaging 17.7 factors and taking pictures 43.7% from 3 till his season was shut down 12 video games in due to a foot damage. There aren’t many elite multidimensional scorers who can actually shoot, so Sasser felt like good worth right here. In stark distinction to my roots in protecting recruiting, I’ve began my roster with two 22-year-olds and a 21-year-old.
Let’s not overthink this. Bacot closed final season with eight consecutive double-doubles spanning the ACC and NCAA tournaments. That run included his downright Tshiebwe-like 21-rebound effort in simply 33 minutes in opposition to Duke within the Last 4. With Bacot, I get a two-way rebounding machine and quantity 2-point scorer who additionally occurs to be a returning first-team All-ACC performer and, oh, sure, the 2022 East Area Most Excellent Participant. That’ll do.
I am so jealous of those earlier 4 picks. I in all probability ought to’ve grabbed Smith. He is a star. Jaquez can mix with any crew. Sasser was Houston’s greatest participant earlier than his damage. And Bacot led his crew to the nationwide title sport. Nice job, fellas. As an alternative, I am going to take the versatile standout who was important in Kansas’ nationwide title run in March. He is a projected wing on the subsequent degree but in addition an interchangeable huge in Invoice Self’s potent small-ball lineups. Plus, he can guard a number of spots. I believe the All-Massive 12 third-teamer might have a breakout season and construct off his 15-point effort within the championship win over North Carolina.
Hunter Dickinson makes a pleasant go to arrange an Eli Brooks.
OK, I in all probability want a guard who can rating right here. I do know. However I am unable to go up one other participant with legit Wood Award aspirations. Dickinson scored 48 factors mixed in matchups in opposition to Colorado State and Tennessee within the NCAA event earlier than struggling in a 6-for-15 effort within the Wolverines’ loss to Villanova. However he is again, and he is prepped for one more robust marketing campaign beneath Juwan Howard.
“With the eleventh decide within the ESPN.com faculty basketball draft, John Gasaway …” elects to maintain this Hunter streak going. My crew wants a gradual veteran presence within the backcourt alongside younger Nick Smith Jr. Maldonado suits that profile completely. And I am taking zero “Who’s going to have the ball?” snickering from both of you, understood? A rotation can by no means have too many lead guards. When he is not lobbing beautiful assists for Graham Ike dunks, the 6-7 Maldonado is commonly backing his usually bewildered “Hey, no honest! I am a guard!” defender down into the paint.
I am unsure the place I’ll use Whitmore, however I have been enamored together with his sport ever since I noticed him on the 2021 Peach Jam. He has a motor that by no means stops working, he is elite in transition, has a robust and highly effective physique that permits him to complete by contact, and he merely finds methods to be productive. And he is getting top-10 NBA draft buzz. He is perhaps my sixth man, he may begin in larger lineups, I do not know — I simply know I wished him on my crew.
I wanted a degree guard, and at this level, there weren’t a ton of choices. However Davis stood out. He was the No. 1 participant within the portal final spring, the 2022 AAC Participant of the 12 months and has put up big scoring and help numbers over the previous three seasons. He is additionally a 37% outdoors shooter. A 5-11 and 6-2 (Sasser) backcourt is not splendid, however we’ll make it work. My coach can have some concepts.
Rasir Bolton is clean as silk as he crosses his defender and drills the step-back 3-pointer to increase the Bulldogs’ lead.
Bolton is my decide for nationwide breakout fifth-year senior of the yr in 2023. He ought to get a couple of extra possessions thrown his manner this season, and we’re additionally speaking a few pure featured scorer who averaged two made 3s per outing in 2021-22 on 46% taking pictures. Plus, Bolton is older than Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett. He has emerged from the collapse of not one however two teaching regimes (at Penn State and Iowa State). True survivor.
I like the Bolton decide, Gasaway. A wise veteran who lastly will get a slice of the highlight on a crew with nationwide title aspirations. Kudos. Love will play that function for North Carolina this yr. He’ll increase my backcourt, too. And sure, I can hear the doubters round a participant who may be each good and misguided. However I am banking on the Caleb Love who scored 28 factors within the Last 4 win over Duke — not the man who went 5-for-24 within the nationwide championship sport.
I watched him follow in Durham. I used to be impressed. I want extra bounce and explosiveness on my roster, and this projected lottery decide has loads of each. We will flip him into 2014-15 Willie Cauley-Stein, who helped the Wildcats win their first 38 video games of the season. I believe he provides us a spark we’re lacking together with his vitality. Massive dunks, huge blocks. His presence modifications the vibe on our crew. However rattling, I’ve lots of huge males. I imagine I’ve assembled a crew that will likely be a contender within the 2005-06 Massive East race.
Keegan and Kris Murray mix for 42 factors as they lead Iowa to a 82-71 win over Michigan.
By no means thoughts his family members. Murray in his personal proper was one of the vital environment friendly scorers within the Massive Ten as a sophomore final season, albeit in restricted minutes. It is not a stretch to suppose he may earn extra begins this season than he did in 2021-22 (one). I am going to take a man who personally accounted for 26% of his crew’s shot makes an attempt whereas he was on the ground for what was, together with Purdue, the Massive Ten’s greatest offense.
Gasaway retains throwing curveballs — Maldonado, Bolton, Murray. I am intrigued to see how his roster seems. I seemingly would’ve gone with Full of life as a flexible frontcourt participant had Myron not chosen him, however I additionally wanted an offensive activate the bench. Abmas suits that completely as one of the vital prolific scorers and shooters within the nation the previous two seasons, and he additionally checks off our mid-major standards.
Extra scoring — and at last, a guard with some dimension (he measured practically 6-5 on the Hoop Summit final spring). George was one of many elite scorers within the 2022 highschool class, and he made waves together with his performances in Canada with Baylor this summer time. He rounds out my backcourt alongside Davis, Sasser and Abmas. It is a quartet that can actually put stress on defenses with its shot-making.
Do I’ve the perfect frontcourt depth in historical past or what? Sanogo was truly taking extra photographs throughout his minutes final season than both Jackson-Davis or Bacot. He is a tireless rebounder who defends the rim, and as a sophomore his accuracy on the line shot up by 11 proportion factors. The trajectory appears to be like actually attention-grabbing for Sanogo.
Borzello’s backcourt is simply downright scary. Love the George decide. And I like Sanogo loads, man. Hey, Gasaway, I believe the Los Angeles Lakers might use your personnel insights. That is the place my crew will get older and higher. The 23-year-old wing made 48% of his 3-point makes an attempt in league play final season. And he’ll get lots of strong appears to be like with Gasaway’s and Borzello’s squads sending assist to cease my bigs within the paint. I believe Bradley will likely be an All-American sleeper this season.
Richardson averaged 14.1 PPG and shot 39% from 3 for Dana Altman’s squad final season. He is additionally 23 years outdated. One factor that is clear to me concerning the one-and-done period: Younger groups not often win nationwide championships in faculty basketball. Richardson provides extra expertise to my crew. And now that he is wholesome — he missed the top of final season with an unspecified damage — he’ll be able to take the following step in his sport. I believe he’ll stabilize my bench, too.
That sound you hear is my evil and supremely assured cackle. All my crew must mercilessly dominate each of you guys is confirmed 3-point taking pictures at a excessive quantity. Walker brings that to the desk, to the tune of three.4 makes per sport on 40% taking pictures final season.
Colin Castleton rises up for a jam to place Florida up over Iona.
I badly wanted a backup huge, and I assumed I might wait and simply take the perfect of whichever publish participant was nonetheless accessible. Looking back, I in all probability ought to have taken Sanogo after which gone with Dariq Whitehead as my remaining decide. I additionally might have in all probability gone with Zach Edey as an alternative of Castleton, simply due to his dimension in opposition to a few of the jumbo lineups my two opponents will trot out. However Castleton was terrific final season at Florida and held his personal defensively as properly. I do remorse not grabbing Whitehead someplace alongside the way in which, nonetheless.
… And a bonus coach decide
Borzello: Rick Pitino, Iona Gaels
I am assuming this hypothetical season would mainly be a few exhibition video games in opposition to my two opponents, and there is not any higher one-off coach within the sport than Pitino. I believe my roster suits how he’d wish to play, too: an skilled crew with a slew of versatile gamers on the one by 4 spots, a quartet of shot-makers and offensive-minded guards, gamers who excel in transition and a few anchors at middle.
I’ve obtained essentially the most expertise on my roster, and now I’ve the perfect tactician too. Championship, right here we come.
Perhaps I am ridiculous, however with regards to coaches, I am all about what you’ve got carried out for me these days. Take your common Corridor of Famer, rename him John Gasaway, take a look at his previous 30 or 60 video games, and would we actually genuflect with awe? I am not saying Valentine is destined to be John Wood Jr. or something, however I used to be impressed by his calm and efficient stewardship of a profitable program as a rookie head coach. Plus, my gamers will not want the compulsory cool, younger assistant to translate what the outdated man’s occurring about.
I believe even Drew Valentine may say you are ridiculous, Gasaway. However any man that age who will get that job at that stage of his profession have to be particular. And I just like the Pitino decide, Jeff. In case you give him high-level expertise, he normally will get to the Last 4. That is his historical past. However I am going to go together with his rival. I’ve lots of egos in my locker room. There are a bunch of fellows vying for nationwide awards and hoping to raise their respective draft inventory. A problem for any coach, however simply one other day for Calipari. He is the perfect ego supervisor within the enterprise. And he’ll let these guys run an offense that’ll permit them to play to their strengths. Calipari with Wood Award candidates, a handful of elite playmakers and a pair proficient shooters? Ought to we simply reduce the nets down now or wait till April?