The top three prospects in the 2022 NBA draft remain the same with Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren playing consistently and competing for the No. 1 spot. At No. 4, it gets interesting. There are a few players who helped their draft stock tremendously to start the second half of the college season.
Shaedon Sharpe is reportedly now eligible for the 2022 draft, but there’s a ton of gray area whether he’ll enter this year’s draft or stick with his original plan and play at Kentucky next season.
Before we break down the latest look at the first round, here are seven players who are shooting up draft boards and where they’re now projected in Yahoo Sports’ latest mock draft.
No player has climbed draft boards faster than Davis and has impressed scouts with how consistently he is playing at a high level. The guard matchup of the season took place Jan. 3 when Wisconsin played at Purdue. Numerous NBA scouts and front-office personnel were in West Lafayette to watch Davis go head-to-head with Jaden Ivey. Davis put together one of the most impressive performances of the college basketball season with 37 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Since that game, teams in the Big Ten have done whatever they could to stop him offensively. Despite double-teams, Davis still finds ways to score, averaging 24.6 points per game this month. Davis, a former high school quarterback, is looking a little bit like Jalen Suggs 2.0 with his toughness and playmaking ability. Questions still surround his outside jumper and whether or not he can be a primary ball handler in the NBA.
Murray does a little bit of everything from scoring, rebounding, blocking shots and forcing turnovers in 30 minutes per game. Murray went from a three-star prospect in high school to a potential All-American in two years. He is leading the Big Ten in scoring and is shooting 57% from the field. Murray is a grab-and-go forward with a solid handle in the open court and had back-to-back double-doubles last week against Rutgers (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Minnesota (25 points, 10 rebounds).
Sharpe was the No. 1-ranked player coming out of high school. He left high school early and arrived on the Kentucky campus in November. At first, many believed the NBA would recognize December as his graduation date, making him ineligible for this year’s draft, but Sharpe is a true fifth-year senior and could technically play for Kentucky this semester and enter the draft. Head coach John Calipari double-downed on Sharpe still planning on playing at Kentucky for the 2022-23 season, telling reporters before the game at Auburn, “It doesn’t change anything. He plans on being here next year. He’s watching. Whether I play him or not this year, if he’s ready to be in games, I’ll put him in.»
There has been no word from Sharpe on what he plans to do, but regardless, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard will be a potential top-10 pick in this draft class or next year’s draft. He’s one of the most explosive guards and is a walking highlight reel when he has space in the open court. Sharpe has a consistent 3-point shot and reads the defense well off the pick-and-roll.
A.J. Griffin — No. 13 (new to list)
Griffin finally started to see consistent playing time at Duke after limited minutes due to a preseason knee injury. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and had a lot of draft hype entering his freshman season. Griffin has great size and is a bully wing who will use his 222-pound frame to punish defenders. He had his best game of the season against Wake Forest where he had a season-high 22 points and added four rebounds. After the impressive performance, future Duke head coach Jon Scheyer gave Griffin high praise in an Instagram post saying, «Shoutout to AJ and his hard work and incredible attitude. The best is yet to come!»
There are still a lot of question marks as to what kind of player Griffin will be at the next level, but he continues to come back from injuries and play at a high level which will give teams late in the lottery a lot to consider about this high-risk, high-reward prospect.
Blake Wesley — No. 16 (from No. 27)
Wesley was an under-the-radar recruit who stayed home to play for Mike Brey at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-5 guard has had an up-and-down season, but he has been more consistent lately. He has averaged 18.3 points in January and racked up 12 steals in six games. Wesley could test the NBA waters and return to improve his draft stock, possibly moving into the top 10 or top five in the 2023 draft (similar to the path Jaden Ivey has taken). Regardless of what Wesley decides, he is now on NBA scouts’ radar and is a player to watch.
If Scoot Henderson is a potential No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft, Blake Wesley is a dark horse to go mid-to-late first round in this draft. The Notre Dame guard exchanged buckets with Henderson this summer working out at @impactbball and has been impressive his freshman year. pic.twitter.com/jZwMGDSRXq
— Krysten Peek (@krystenpeek) January 23, 2022
A first-round dark horse, Williams looks like a completely different player after transferring to Wake Forest from Oklahoma. He’s leading a competitive ACC in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. Williams has significantly improved his usage rate on the court at Wake Forest, playing 33.6 minutes per game and averaging 1.3 points per possession in transition, according to Synergy Sports. He recorded a triple-double earlier this season (16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) and has great vision in the half-court set, averaging more than five assists per game. Williams is one of the older players in the draft at 22, but there is some value to a veteran player in the mid-to-late first round for a team looking for a plug-and-play guy to add experience.
Tari Eason — No. 25 (new to list)
Eason transferred to LSU from Cincinnati this season and has found more freedom in Will Wade’s offense, averaging 16.3 points per game during conference play. Eason is a tremendous athlete and loves to play above the rim whenever possible. He looks significantly more comfortable on the court compared to last season and has good pace and patience to his game. Eason recorded two double-doubles in the past six games and had one of the most impressive dunks in transition in a win over Tennessee last week.
Complete 2022 NBA mock draft projections
(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Jan. 23.)
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 17.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.7 apg
Banchero’s passing has improved in the past month, and he is showing scouts why he should be considered as a hybrid primary ball-handler in the NBA. He’s averaging four assists in January and nearly had a triple-double in an OT loss to Florida State where he finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Auburn: 15.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
The Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country, and Smith has a lot to do with that. He doesn’t force anything on the offensive end and is a better perimeter threat than Banchero, shooting 42.3% from 3-point range. He has a complete all-around game, and there are teams that will consider him for the top spot in June.
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 196 pounds | Class: Freshman | Gonzaga: 13.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.4 bpg
Holmgren continues to have a solid season, and he’s starting to dominate the lane in the WCC like scouts expected him to do from the start of the season. In a recent game against San Francisco, Holmgren finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 32 minutes. Scouts are still worried about his slight frame, but Holmgren has been proving people wrong since high school and has found ways to play against bigger, stronger players and compete at a high level.
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Purdue: 16.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.9 apg
Ivey might have lost the head-to-head battle against Davis, but he showed consistency behind the arc early, shooting 42.4%. He had a near-perfect game in a win against Butler, going 6-for-6 from three and finishing with 22 points. The NBA is a shooter’s league, and as of now, Ivey has the slight edge on Davis.
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 194 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Wisconsin: 22.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Iowa: 22.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.2 bpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 250 pounds | Class: Freshman | Memphis: 10.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky: Has not played this season
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 198 pounds | G League Ignite: 17.7 ppg, 3.2 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Arizona: 17.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Baylor: 10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky: 13.6 ppg, 4.4 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 222 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 8.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 172 pounds | Overtime Elite: 17.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 8 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Milwaukee: 13.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Notre Dame: 15 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Senior | Kansas: 20.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 175 pounds | G League Ignite: 15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 213 pounds | Class: Junior | Duke: 15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.8 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Australia | G League Ignite: 11.3 ppg, 4.4 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 171 pounds | Class: Freshman | Tennessee: 13.3 ppg, 4.9 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 210 pounds | Class: Senior | Wake Forest: 20.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.1 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | Alabama: 8.4 ppg, 3.9 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 205 pounds | Serbia | Mega Basket: 10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 216 pounds | Class: Sophomore | LSU: 16 ppg, 7.1 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 221 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 11.9 ppg, 3.2 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 240 pounds | Class: Junior | Ohio State: 19.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 179 pounds | Class: Freshman | Nebraska: 15.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 230 pounds | Class: Freshman | Stanford: 11.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.8 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 200 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Colorado: 13.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg