There are 16 teams left standing in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, and as luck would have it, there also happens to be 16 -- give or take a few, of course -- standout NBA Draft prospects still in the March Madness hunt. So just like that, voila, the March Madness content gods have delivered. Sixteen prospects to watch in the Sweet 16. Here we go.
The sixteen prospects are not evenly spread throughout the field before Ivy League hoops fans start scrolling -- No. 15 seed Princeton has none that made the cut, while Alabama, Houston and Arkansas all tied for the most with two -- but as you will see below the talent is surprisingly well-spread across the bracket. Three come from the South Region, four from the Midwest Region, seven from the West Region and two from the East.
No. 1 in our rankings will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this season. The No. 1 overall seed Alabama Crimson Tide own the top spot with freshman Brandon Miller topping our prospect rankings, with Miller in the mix to be a top-two pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Let's dive in.
1. Brandon Miller, Alabama
At 6-foot-9 with the ability to create offense for himself, Miller has arguably been the biggest riser among college prospects this season in playing from a possible one-and-done candidate to the potential No. 2 pick. He leads all SEC players in scoring and is fourth in the league in rebounds.
THIS SEQUENCE FROM BRANDON MILLER 😱#MarchMadness @AlabamaMBB pic.twitter.com/NhUxH5VQMH— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 19, 2023
2. Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
The No. 1 draft prospect in the 2022 recruiting cycle, Smith Jr. spent much of the season with Arkansas dealing with a lingering knee injury that hampered both him and the team. But the Hogs are playing well of late, even if Smith Jr.'s performance has been a little hot and cold. He's a superstar scorer who could be a top-five pick if the medicals check out.
3. Anthony Black, Arkansas
The word you'll associate with Black during the predraft process is: connector. He's a big wing who makes things fit in place. Can create, score, and plays with a selfless style that maximizes the talent -- of which there is plenty -- on this Arkansas team.
4. Jarace Walker, Houston
Houston is arguably the most physical and competitive team still standing in the field and that's in no small part because of the contributions of Walker. The freshman talent came to college physically chiseled and is second on the team in defensive rebounding rate amongst a veteran-laden roster. Bundle of energy wrapped inside a Hulk frame.
Every time I watch Houston play all I can think about is the fact that this dude was playing against high school kids last season. pic.twitter.com/0D2kUIovud— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 17, 2023
5. Jordan Hawkins, UConn
Hawkins has played his way into possible top-20 range after an All-Big East campaign this season as a sophomore in which he's averaging 15.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 38.3% from 3-point range. At 6-5 he has a killer, clean stroke that rates him out as one of the best catch-and-shoot weapons in college.
6. Dillon Mitchell, Texas
Mitchell is more of a prospect than a proven commodity for No. 2 seed Texas but he has the goods to develop into a terrific two-way talent in the NBA. He'll be a switchable defender in the league with his great size and fluidity, and if he can build and sustain a jumper he could grow into a top-10 player in the class.
7. Trey Alexander, Creighton
Creighton thrust Alexander into a leading role last season because of injuries and he's taken off into a different atmosphere since. He has the size of a wing but the ball skills of a guard, armed with both playmaking ability and a consistent jumper that makes him a threat as a catch-and-shoot weapon. He's a top-30 player for me in the 2023 NBA Draft if he comes out.
Trey Alexander is a tough shot maker. @BluejayMBB x #BEdancing pic.twitter.com/fLuiJd0733— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 20, 2023
8. Noah Clowney, Alabama
Alabama has so much talent in its backcourt that we can overlook what it has elsewhere on its roster, but the presence of Clowney on the interior is too good to ignore. He's a stretch big who can make 3-pointers and finish lobs, and an improving shot-blocker with great length. As his frame fills out he could be a Nic Claxton-like NBA player.
9. Julian Phillips, Tennessee
The production isn't quite there yet for Phillips -- a freshman on a loaded Tennessee team -- but the frame and profile is seamlessly projectable. He's got a great frame at 6-foot-8 and already a terrific defender helping a No. 1-ranked Vols defense. The shot needs refinement but at just 19 years old, the tools and youth are what teams will bet on.
Impressive flashes from Julian Phillips in Tennessee’s win over Duke. The freshman has played valuable minuted for the Vols this season.— GREENLIGHT MEDIA (@atlgreenlight) March 20, 2023
At 6’9 he has all the physical tools of a pro.
Some clips of Phillips in postseason play. (SECT and NCAAT)@ju1ianphillips pic.twitter.com/3gx23QPiuZ
10. Colby Jones, Xavier
Versatility is where Jones brings value as a prospect, with his latest game -- vs. Pitt -- serving as the prime example. He finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a completely dominant outing. For a 6-6 guard he's terrific at gathering boards and creating looks on offense.
11. Marcus Sasser, Houston
A groin injury suffered in the AAC Tournament hampered Sasser early in the NCAA Tournament -- he played only the first half vs. No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky -- but he showed off the weaponry with 22 points and two assists in a big second-round win over Auburn. He isn't quite as big as what you'd want from an NBA 2-guard, but he's a bucket-getter who has a knack for scoring and using craft to get to his spots.
12. Amari Bailey, UCLA
A top-10 recruit in the 2022 class and a McDonald's All-American, Bailey has taken some time to find his footing on this deep UCLA team but has shown flashes of stardom down the stretch. He's scored 14 or more points in three consecutive games leading into the Sweet 16, the first time he's done that all season, and emerged as a two-way havoc-wreaker who can be additive as a playmaker and shooter. He won big in high school with his athleticism and has managed to translate that to the college level as well.
13. Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA
Jaquez scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help UCLA hold off a pesky Northwestern team in the second round. He's not an explosive athlete and doesn't have a flashy game, but he's a smart, winning player who can use his craft as well as any upperclassmen in the tourney.
Jaime Jaquez brings UCLA back to the Sweet 16 with a strong 24 point, 8 rebound, 4 assist performance against Northwestern. Made a couple of 3s, played his usual bully-ball style in the mid and low post and made smart, winning plays on both ends of the floor like always. pic.twitter.com/luI47ojHKt— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 19, 2023
14. Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State
At Florida, Johnson was squarely on the first round radar before collapsing during a game early in the season and taking more than a year away from the game to recover. He's remade his prospects at K-State where he's shooting 40.5% from 3-point range and operating as a defensive specialist to boot, using to his advantage the long 6-7, sturdy frame to lead K-State to a Sweet 16.
15. Julian Strawther, Gonzaga
Stepping into his biggest role yet at Gonzaga in three seasons, Strawther is hitting a career-high 42.3% from 3-point range and nearly 80% from the free-throw line in an obvious display of his improved jumper while with the Bulldogs. He's a 98th percentile spot-up shooter, according to Synergy data, and likely fills an off-the-bench role in the NBA as a role player who can be a microwave scorer and provide energy.
Julian Strawther went OFF to lead Gonzaga to a first-round W:@JulianStrawther— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) March 18, 2023
- 28 PTS
- 9-15 FG
- 3-6 3PT
- 10 REB pic.twitter.com/dbf7B4tJUm
16. Jordan Walsh, Arkansas
Walsh played one of his best games of the season in the second-round win over No. 1 Kansas, scoring 10 points and grabbing three boards while adding two steals and nailing his only 3-point shot attempt. He's not the most athletic forward, but I love his length and think he can be a versatile defender in the NBA operating as a stretch forward.