Carlton Carrington
6–5–190 — Guard— Pittsburgh — Freshman

Interestingly, Carrington (pictured) was known as a wing / shooting guard more than a point guard in high school, but he played as a point and developed at the position. And he was only a 4-star recruit. Which is why, while the season is still young, seeing Carrington looking like an ultra-advanced lead guard, with savvy, patience, incredible court vision, and pinpoint passing ability is so special. At this point there are few doubts about Carrington’s ability to get his own shot, set up teammates, and run an offense at an elite level. Two weeks ago, you would not have found his name included in many or any NBA Draft conversation. Now, he is skyrocketing up draft boards. Carrington registered a triple double in his first ever college game. He will have a chance to solidify the early hype on November 22nd when Pitt faces their first high level opponent in Florida. The Baltimore native has some Shai Gorgeous-Alexander qualities and checks in at 4 on our updated mock.

Isaiah Collier
6–5–210 — Point Guard — USC — Freshman

Collier is no stranger to basketball scouts. There was a lot of hype for the near-unanimous top overall 2023 recruit as he entered his freshman season at USC. Hype and expectations are one thing. But actually seeing this pitbull of a guard perform up to, or even beyond, expectations is another. Collier is off to a strong start, showing off his trademark speed, power and finishing ability so far in this young NCAA season. He’s routinely overpowering opponents and getting tough finishes at the hoop or earning a trip to the free throw line. We will need to see him get his turnovers down (11 assists and 10 turnovers through two games) and continue to convert on his outside shots to continue to climb the draft board.

Ja'Kobe Walter
6–5–180 — Small Forward — Baylor — Freshman

This smooth shooting long range bomber doesn’t have the eye-popping athleticism of some of the others on this list. But the freshman’s body control, scoring ability, and relative maturity have been on full display. He has a knack for getting to the free throw line more than your typical shooting specialist as well, and converts at a high rate. By far Walter’s best game of this young 2023–24 season came against formidable opponent Auburn as he posted 28 points. Worth keeping an eye on: In the other two games, which were both relative blowouts, Walter was not nearly as productive. Also noteworthy: Walter only has one assist through three games! But his offensive package and maturity and impressive display in the opening game of the season is enough to have scouts excited about this prospect.

Adem Bona
6–10–245 Power — Forward/Center — UCLA — Sophomore

The sophomore is still a bit raw. But he shows major potential, especially on the boards and in the air (shot blocking). He gives great effort and is fairly mobile for his size, which is a must in the modern NBA where so many screens result in the bigs switching on defense. He had a monster first game of the season (28 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks) against St. Francis (PA)! But he had a relative letdown individual performance in the following game (shot just 1–7 from the field and did not block a shot) — though UCLA still beat their opponent (Lafayette) in a blowout. Also worth noting that through two games, Bona has converted on 12 of 15 free throw attempts, which is an impressive rate for a big. Scouts would love to see if there is any face-up and outside shooting in Bona’s offensive arsenal, as well as consistent production throughout the season.

Caleb Foster
6–5–195 — Guard — Duke — Freshman

Here is yet another high profile Duke guard (we may be looking at three first round picks from Duke’s current back court)! Foster is a nightmare on the fast break, and he loves to leak out in transition. In the half court he’s just as tough of a cover: Very slippery and uses deception as much as quickness to get to his spots. He’s also an excellent finisher with a soft touch and includes a floater in his bag. He somehow only has one assist through three games! But his shake scoring ability is hard to ignore. It looks like Duke head coach Jon Scheyer is still figuring out his backcourt rotation. And of all teams, don’t be surprised if Duke settles on a small ball lineup, playing three guards. But for now, Foster is earning more playing time in the Duke rotation as well as better position on NBA Draft boards.


Aday Mara
7–3–240 — Center — UCLA — Freshman

Mara was thought to be the top international prospect entering college basketball this season. But there was a bit of drama surrounding the freshman, as the NCAA only cleared him for competition a week before the season begun. And that uncertainty probably ties in here: Mara has only played less than ten minutes per game through two games this season for UCLA. On the plus side, what stands out about Mara? Well, he’s 7–3, for one. He doesn’t move nearly as fluidly as another European who may be on your mind, given the height (by the name of Wembanyama). But Mara does have an impressive set of basketball skills and high IQ. Maybe he will earn more time on the floor with the drama and questions about his eligibility to play this season behind him. Note that Adem Bona (mentioned above) stands to continue to benefit from increased time at the big man spot for UCLA while Mara is playing sparingly.

DJ Wagner
6–3–175 —Guard — Kentucky — Freshman

The son of hoops legend Dajuan Wagner (who was one of the game’s best scorers before medical issues derailed his playing career) was known to be the top recruit in his class for almost his entire high school career. No doubt, he has the blessing and curse of high expectations. It may surprise you to see that he does not have elite athleticism. But he matches skill, control, and a smoothness to his game to dominate against his peers. Wagner was fine-but-not-great in his first two games of this season (against lesser competition). But he really struggled in a loss against top-ranked Kansas, hitting just one shot in 25 minutes and failing to make much of an impact in other facets of the game as well (only one assist). D.J. is a smart and savvy kid who is likely to turn things around but for now his early season struggles reduce his draft stock, rather significantly.


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