5 NBA Draft prospects to watch heading into 2024 NCAA Tournament

5 NBA Draft prospects to watch heading into 2024 NCAA Tournament

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March Madness is here, and other than college basketball fans wanting their brackets to work out and see some classic upsets, some of the NBA’s future players will be on the hardwood trying to up their draft stock. 

The top prospects in this year’s draft will be playing in the NCAA Tournament, and while their minds are on winning it all, NBA teams will be watching intently to see how they fare in win-or-go-home contests. 

With that being said, here is a look at star college players who could be taken high in the draft this June. 


Reed Sheppard, #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats, celebrates in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies during the quarterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

PG Rob Dillingham– Kentucky

A projected top-five pick, and a player some believe could be the best prospect in college basketball right now, Rob Dillingham’s competitive spirit is built for March, and his skills are undeniable. 

Dillingham’s style of play seems to have been birthed on a pickup basketball court, but that is the type of grittiness that is needed to advance to the next round this time of year. Dillingham’s freshman season saw 15.4 points on 48.2% shooting from the field with 3.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals averaged per game. 

Kentucky’s early exit in the SEC Tournament did not allow Dillingham to show off his stuff in big moments, but the No. 3 seeded Wildcats will take on No. 14 Oakland on Thursday, when Dillingham can shine. 


PG/SG Reed Sheppard – Kentucky

Dillingham’s teammate, the sharp-shooting Reed Sheppard is someone that comes off the bench and provides the scoring jolt head coach John Calipari loves. Bench depth is critical for teams wishing to hoist the national title trophy.

Sheppard shot 52.5% from three-point range, taking 4.4 attempts per game and averaging 12.8 points per game. He also does well dishing the rock, tallying 4.5 assists per game while bringing down 4.3 rebounds. 

Sheppard is another projected top-10 pick in this year’s draft if he decides to leave after his freshman year. 

Cody Williams, #10, of the Colorado Buffaloes reacts as the Colorado State Rams secure the game during the second half of CSU’s 88-83 win at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

F Cody Williams – Colorado 

Cody Williams already has some idea of how the transition from college to the NBA will be thanks to his older brother Jalen Williams, a forward with the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Williams can play virtually anywhere on the floor, as his defensive abilities are something NBA scouts are loving right now. He has done well on the offensive end for the Buffaloes as well, as the freshman has 12.6 points per game with 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists over 21 games thus far. 

Because of his two-way style of play, evaluators have him going in the top 10 somewhere. 

C Kyle FilipowskiDuke

The heartbeat of this year’s Blue Devils team, Kyle Filipowski has the Duke offense run through him. The sophomore may be 7 feet tall, but his game does not just work in the paint. 

He has improved in many facets from his freshman year, averaging 17.1 points compared to 15.1 last season and shooting better from beyond the arc at 35% from 28.2%. 

Kyle Filipowski

Kyle Filipowski, #30 of the Duke Blue Devils, reacts following a dunk against the Virginia Cavaliers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 2, 2024 in Durham, North Carolina. (Lance King/Getty Images)

The Blue Devils will need him at his best if they wish to get through a bracket that includes Kentucky, No. 1 Houston, and No. 2 Marquette. 

As for the draft, Filipowski is expected to be taken midway through the first round. 

SG Ja’Kobe Walter – Baylor

When looking at NBA mock drafts, Ja’Kobe Walter goes anywhere from fifth overall down to No. 15 overall. It just depends on what teams project his game will look like at the next level, but scoring is expected. 

The Bears’ star freshman is averaging 14.2 points per game with 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists over 33 games, but he picked the wrong time to cool down. He shot just 34% from three this season despite some believing he is the best three-point shooter in this year’s draft class. 

What better way to prove doubters wrong with a solid NCAA Tournament performance, where Walter can certainly boost his draft stock with some red-hot shooting to help his team get back to the national championship, which they won in 2021. 

Rob Dillingham, #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats, shoots the ball in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies during the quarterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


Honorable Mention

SG Dalton Knecht – TennesseeF/C Yves Missi – BaylorC Donovan Clingan – UConnG Stephon Castle – UConn

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