As we start the ever-popular Feast Week in college basketball, it feels like a good time to start discussing the NBA Draft. Yes, we are still seven months away from the NBA Draft and the college basketball season is not even a month old, but we need a good starting point. I wanted to go through each of the Power Six conferences and talk NBA Draft prospects.
I started with the ACC. The format of this exercise starts with the top five projected players for the 2024 NBA Draft. Then it goes through four superlative-like quick-hitters. I then finish with a list of players who could rise into the conversation in the future, maybe this year, or maybe over the next couple of years.
Let’s discuss the top NBA Draft prospects in the ACC.
1. C Kyle Filipowski, Duke
The Buzz: Duke sophomore Kyle Filipowski is a 7-foot-0 player who can dribble, shoot, and pass, and that is rare to find in today’s game. At 245 pounds, Filipowski is a competitor who brings it every time on the floor. He played last season needing hip surgery, which he got shortly after the season ended and still was named ACC Tournament MVP. The Duke sophomore has started this season averaging 18.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 57.1 percent from the field. In an age of the NBA where teams like to spread the floor and play five guys out, Filipowkski’s passing plays well. Icing on the cake for Filipowski would be the shooting, which – in a small sample size – has improved over last season. There are still some questions about his lift around the basket, he is shooting 33.3 percent from three on 3.0 attempts and his free throw percentage is up to 83.3
2. SG Wooga Poplar, Miami
The Buzz: Miami junior Wooga Poplar has started this season off as a lights-out shooter. The 6-foot-5 guard shot 37.5 percent from three as the fifth starter on a Final Four team. This year, he is a featured scorer and through five games is knocking down 59.4 percent of his three-point attempts. Naturally, he will most likely not maintain a connection rate at this level, but players in the past couple of years who have sustained high-level shooting at high volume have moved high into the draft, think Jett Howard, Jordan Hawkins, and Johnny Davis. Continuing to develop his ability to create opportunities and play off the bounce will only help his stock, as well as finishing more consistently at the rim. Positional size and shooting consistency are a good place to start for an NBA Draft prospect.
3. PG Tyrese Proctor, Duke
The Buzz: Tyrese Proctor entered this season with a lot of hype after he had a strong finish to a disastrous start to last season. Proctor looks the part with length and good size. His shooting form also looks good and he has passing touch and vision. The inconsistency in his game comes when making plays off the bounce. His assists are up, almost double, from last season and his turnovers are down. Proctor is taking care of possessions and getting the ball to the right spots. However, he is not putting much pressure on the rim and has not played a very dynamic style. Proctor’s stock has dropped a little as the season has started, but there has been some improvement in the numbers. Can he start putting two feet in the paint and making a play and can he start making shots? He is one who could go up or down this list as the season progresses. He has shown quick hands on defense and a willingness to consistently stick his nose in the play.
4. SF Ryan Dunn, Virginia
The Buzz: Virginia sophomore Ryan Dunn is one of the more interesting defensive prospects in this draft class. The 6-foot-8 wing has collected at least three stocks in each of Virginia’s four games this season, finishing two of the games with seven. While On3 was talking about him as an NBA Draft candidate since last season, it has been understood that the offensive game would need to continue to improve. While the sample size is small, through four games this season, Dunn is Virginia’s leading scorer, averaging 10.8 points on 60.0 percent shooting from the field. He is also shooting 5.8 free throws per game. Tony Bennett has a strong track record with wings; Trey Murphy, De’Andre Hunter, Klay Thompson, and more. Dunn has an intriguing archetype.
5. PG Carlton Carrington, Pittsburgh
The Buzz: Pittsburgh freshman Carlton Carrington has been really good to start the season, there is no other way to put it. In his first college game, Carrington secured a triple-double. He has since continued to gather at least three rebounds and at least four assists in each of Pittsburgh’s four games. The 6-foot-5 lead guard is also shooting 51.9 percent from three. Carrington, who still needs to continue adding strength, plays with an excellent pace and high IQ. He also has optimal size and length for the position. It will be interesting if he is able to continue at this rate. Florida is up next, on Wednesday, that game could go a long way in setting Carrington’s path moving forward. With the physical tools, shooting, and IQ Carrington has a lot of natural traits in place to continue moving up this list.
Upperclassman to Watch:
Sr. G Reece Beekman (Virginia) – The ACC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year is taking on initiation duties and has started the season at 5.8 ASST to 1.0 TO.
Player to Watch After Year Two:
Fr. F Kyshawn George (Miami) – A late bloomer who grew up a guard. He grew to 6-foot-7 and maintained the guard skills. He still needs to grow into his body, but the size, processing, and skill set are intriguing.
Freshman Who Could Climb into the Top Five:
Fr. G Caleb Foster (Duke) – At a lengthy 6-foot-5, Foster is just as comfortable initiating the offense as he is playing off the ball. Smooth shooting stroke with advanced processing ability.
Second-Year Player Who Took a Step:
So. G Judah Mintz (Syracuse) – While other pieces of his game are still developing, Mintz puts relentless pressure on the rim. He is attempting a staggering 11.3 free-throw attempts per game.
Other Players to Watch
Senior F PJ Hall (Clemson), Freshman G Jared McCain (Duke), Sophomore F Mark Mitchell (Duke), Sophomore F Baba Miller (Florida State), Junior G Miles Kelly (Georgia Tech), Sophomore F Tre White (Louisville), Freshman C Dennis Evans (Louisville), Senior F Norchad Omier (Miami), Junior F Matthew Cleveland (Miami), Freshman G Elliot Cadeau (UNC), Junior F Harrison Ingram (UNC), Senior C Armando Bacot (UNC), Freshman F Carey Booth (Notre Dame), Senior F Blake Hinson (Pittsburgh), Sophomore F Guillermo Diaz (Pittsburgh), Sophomore G JJ Starling (Syracuse), Junior G Hunter Sallis (Wake Forest)