The college basketball season tipped off Nov. 7, and whether it’s one-and-done talent or players who have made jumps throughout their college career, top NBA draft talent will soon emerge on the court. College basketball is one of the primary entry points for prospects to make that leap to the professional level, but this draft class is a little bit different than years past with the top talent not playing college hoops this season.
French 7-foot-4 center Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson have solidified themselves as the projected No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2023 NBA draft, but there’s still plenty of talent in college basketball this season.
Yahoo Sports takes a look at four NBA prospects from every Power 5 conference to keep tabs on throughout the college season and leading up to the draft.
Dariq Whitehead (Duke)
In his first year as head coach, Jon Scheyer put together the top recruiting class in the country with four five-star prospects, including Whitehead. The 6-7 combo guard fractured his foot in August and underwent surgery for the injury on Aug. 30. His return to the court has been slow, but Scheyer told reporters after their opening game that Whitehead is practicing with the team and he’ll hopefully be back to game-speed soon.
“You have to build your game shape up again and we don’t want to put him out too early,” Scheyer said.
Whitehead is a three-level guard who is shifty in the lane and can hit deep threes. A product of Montverde Academy, Whitehead played alongside Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes and Moses Moody for two years. He’s comfortable playing on or off the ball and exudes confidence when he’s on the court, always communicating with teammates.
Dereck Lively II (Duke)
Lively is currently sidelined with a lower leg injury and could return to the court for No. 7 Duke’s blockbuster game against No. 5 Kansas on Nov. 15. Lively was the No. 1 center coming out of high school and the 7-1 freshman is an elite rim protector with his 7-8 wingspan. Lively can be too unselfish at times, but makes great reads offensively off the pick-and-pop and has a solid inside-out game that is tough to defend.
Terquavion Smith (NC State)
Smith had a great showing at the NBA draft combine last spring and elected to return for his sophomore season after testing the NBA waters. Smith is an explosive scorer and loves to get downhill and finish at the rim. In his first game this season, Smith made a statement putting up 26 points, five assists, two steals and one block. The 6-4 guard could have been a first-round pick last season, but returning for another season will only boost his draft stock in 2023.
Jalen Washington (North Carolina)
Washington is coming back from an ACL injury but is one of the most talked-about prospects between NBA scouts leading up to the college season. The 6-10 freshman is a versatile big who isn’t afraid to shoot it from behind the arc. Washington has great footwork around the rim and loves the turnaround jumper when he gets a defender on his hip and can elevate over most players with his long frame.
Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas)
Smith Jr. impressed NBA scouts at the McDonald’s All-American Game and is a projected top-five draft pick entering the season. The 6-5 freshman is the highest-rated recruit Arkansas has ever landed and does it all offensively from making good reads in the lane, hitting floaters with both hands and knocking down deep threes. Smith Jr. turns the corner well off screens and is a high-level passer, finding open teammates in the opposite corner for an open look or scooping passes in the lane. He is always looking to push the ball in transition and handles ball pressure well even in double-team situations.
Brandon Miller (Alabama)
Miller has great size at 6-9 and a smooth jumper. The freshman out of Tennessee chose Alabama over Auburn and Tennessee and is being plugged in the perimeter alongside senior Jahvon Quinerly and sophomore Nimari Burnett. In his first game, Miller finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and one block in 33 minutes. The NBA values long 3-and-D wings like Miller who can be plugged in to multiple positions. He is a projected first-round 2023 pick.
Cason Wallace (Kentucky)
Wallace is one of the best defenders in the country and can guard all three positions on the perimeter at a high level. He’s a legitimate two-way threat who will be playing more off the ball this season with Sahvir Wheeler at the point. In his first game against Howard, Wallace did a little bit of everything and looked like a seasoned guard instead of a freshman in his first collegiate game. Wallace was one assist away from a double-double, finishing with 13 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and two steals.
GG Jackson (South Carolina)
Jackson is the youngest player in college basketball and doesn’t turn 18 until Dec. 17. The 6-9 forward was originally committed to North Carolina and became the first player since 2003 to decommit from the Tar Heels (J.R. Smith committed to UNC before electing to go straight to the NBA). Jackson reclassified a grade up and announced his commitment to South Carolina at the end of July.
In his first college game, Jackson posted 18 points (7-for-15 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3-point range), grabbed 10 rebounds in 33 minutes. He runs the floor well in transition and has great hands while catching in the post. There are still some growing pains and mental errors he needs to work through, particularly on the defensive end, but Jackson’s raw talent and feel for the game make him an intriguing prospect at the next level.
Kris Murray (Iowa)
The twin brother of Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray, Kris will have more freedom offensively and a bigger roll in his junior season. Murray has the potential to be a 3-and-D threat at the NBA level and plays the game the right way. The 6-8 forward is a reliable plug-and-play prospect who started the season on a positive note, putting up 14 points, six rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.
Jett Howard (Michigan)
The youngest son of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, Jett hit the college scene shooting lights out. The 6-8 freshman poured in 30 points in a scrimmage prior to the season, connecting on six 3-pointers in just 22 minutes. He didn’t stop there and opened the regular season with 21 points (5-for-10 from three) and dished out five assists. With his size and hot shooting, Howard is an intriguing NBA prospect.
Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois)
Shannon Jr. transferred to Illinois from Texas Tech for his senior year. The Illini started the season as the No. 23 team in the country and are a legitimate Final Four contender this year. The 6-6 guard elected to return to college basketball after getting feedback from NBA teams last spring. His 3-point jump shot has improved and his body looks much stronger. Shannon Jr. stepped into this Illinois team as a natural leader and led all players in points to kick off the season, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (Indiana)
The freshman guard grew up playing quarterback and is surprisingly explosive around the rim. Prior to the start of his season, Hood-Schifino was in Los Angeles for Chris Paul’s camp and locked up Paul and Devin Booker a few times with NBA scouts watching from the sidelines. He continuously makes the right read and plays with maturity that is well above his age.
Keyonte George (Baylor)
George transformed his body from his senior high school season, dropping 16 pounds and adding muscle to his 6-4 frame. The freshman guard has excellent shooting mechanics and scored 13 points and dished out seven assists in his first college game. George has good size at the guard position and although he prefers being the primary ball handler, he can also create off the wing and get to the lane easily, favoring a two-dribble pull-up or dishing to one of his teammates.
Dillon Mitchell (Texas)
Mitchell is one of the most athletic players in college basketball this season and loves to finish above the rim. The most underrated part of his game is the way he attacks the glass, especially on the offensive end. During a exhibition scrimmage against Arkansas, Mitchell grabbed four offensive boards, put up 10 points (all dunks) in 16 minutes. The Moody Center was packed with NBA executives and scouts to get early eyes on both teams.
“I just want to show NBA scouts my motor and versatility,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports. “I know my role is going to be different every night, and I’m here to do whatever is asked of me from Coach [Chris] Beard and my teammates.”
Mike Miles (TCU)
The junior guard is a seasoned scorer in the Big 12 and plays much bigger than his 6-2 frame. He’s a true floor general who has averaged under three turnovers his entire college career. Miles continues to improve each year and could make a jump this season. Miles does a great job absorbing contact when getting downhill and finds different ways to finish around bigger, longer players.
Gradey Dick (Kansas)
The defending champions Jayhawks lost Christian Braun to the NBA but gained another offensive weapon in the freshman sharpshooter. Dick connected on 4-of-6 3-pointers in his first game, finishing with 23 points. The 6-8 guard is more athletic than what meets the eye and is sneaky bouncy, chasing down blocks and being aggressive around the rim.
Amari Bailey (UCLA)
Bailey played high school basketball at Sierra Canyon with Bronny James and current NBA players Ziaire Williams and Brandon Boston Jr. The 6-4 lefty entered his freshman season with high expectations and he’s stepping into an veteran team, playing alongside senior Tyger Campbell in the backcourt. Bailey has an explosive first step and loves to get out and run in transition and finish above the rim. His 3-point shot continues to be an area of development, but he’s settled in nicely on this established, deep UCLA team.
Kel’el Ware (Oregon)
The 7-foot center is an elite shot blocker and moves well for his size off the block. The talented freshman has a lot of room for growth and continues to improve from his high school career. In his first game, Ware recorded three blocks, grabbed five boards and netted eight points in just 19 minutes.
Harrison Ingram (Stanford)
The 6-7 sophomore is the glue guy on this Stanford team and can be plugged into multiple positions on the court. With one season under his belt, Ingram looks more confident and comfortable, particularly on the defensive end where he’s rotating on the wing more fluidly and is more disruptive off the switch.
Adem Bona (UCLA)
Bona only started playing basketball six years ago and already has an NBA-ready body as an 18-year-old freshman. The 6-10 forward was born in Nigeria but grew up in Turkey and played for the Turkey national team this past summer. He spent the summer holding his own against NBA players during 5-on-5 runs and scrimmages at UCLA and is a high-motor big who has a solid back-to-the-basket game.