Prospect rankings for the 2024 NBA Draft: A list of the seven best players to watch in the Champions Classic on the Big Board

Prospect rankings for the 2024 NBA Draft: A list of the seven best players to watch in the Champions Classic on the Big Board
Prospect rankings for the 2024 NBA Draft: A list of the seven best players to watch in the Champions Classic on the Big Board

One of the premier preseason events in college basketball, the Champions Classic, attracts elite players, coaches, and programs each year.

With NBA talent strewn all over the court and three Hall of Famers in action on the sidelines, this week’s festivities—a doubleheader between No. 9 Duke and

No. 18 Michigan State and No. 17 Kentucky and No. 1 Kansas—are expected to be no different.

So we thought, why not, in our first official update to the 2024 NBA Draft prospect rankings? Let’s just get it out there and take a peek at every participant in this year’s competition.

Our first prospect rankings includes only a top-30 — an expansion from our teased top-10 earlier this fall — but of the 30, a whopping seven hail from the teams playing in the Champions Classic.

Four of them are in our projected lottery grades. Two are inside the top 10. One is ranked No. 1.

Our list will eventually expand to 100 ahead of the draft season and will serve as a living, breathing landing page over the next few months leading up to the draft, with constant tweaks and changes as players pop on the radar, improve their stock or fall down.

As things stand now just a week into the season, though, our rankings are right here.

Below are the big names to know in our rankings who will be in action on Tuesday by Big Board ranking:

Justin Edwards, Kentucky

He hasn’t exactly came out of the gate looking like an All-American or the future No. 1 pick, but a two-game sample size — in which he scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in blowout wins over New Mexico State and Texas A&M-CC — isn’t enough data to change my priors.

Edwards was my No. 1 coming into the season and he remains No. 1 for now.

He has a big 6-foot-8 frame, a smooth left-handed stroke and a finesse about his game that projects well as a do-it-all guard with wing size.

Tyrese Proctor, Duke

Projecting forward into this season, Proctor is one of the bigger unknowns among lottery prospects who I’m betting will develop into validating this positioning.

The first two games for him have been underwhelming, as he’s taken a back seat to Kyle Filipowski and been far too passive as the lead guard, but there’s a lot of room for him to grow into this spot.

Remember: he reclassed last year and was one of the youngest freshmen in the sport, so this technically would have been his freshman year.

If he can improve his outside shot and showcase his ability to float in and out between facilitator and attacker, he has a real shot to get picked higher than any of his fellow Duke teammates.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Filipowski is a former five-star recruit who opted to come back for a second season at Duke despite being a first-round prospect and has thus far improved — dramatically — his standing for the 2024 class. Again: small sample size and all to consider.

But he turned in 25 points and seven boards in the season-opener vs. Dartmouth then bounced back vs. a top-10 Arizona team loaded with frontcourt talent for another 25 points and eight boards.

Duke is running a lot of its actions through him this season, and rightfully so, because right now he looks like a First Team All-American and potential. top-10 pick.

DJ Wagner, Kentucky

The physical transformation of DJ Wagner this offseason at Kentucky validates some of the buzz he’s earned this offseason leading into 2023-24 for reason for optimism as he enters his first, and potential last, year at Kentucky.

Wagner’s worked hard to add muscle and has the sharpshooting ability to be a scoring weapon even on a loaded UK team right out of the gate.

UK is trusting him to make plays with the ball in his hands, too, a welcome development that could further burnish his rising draft stock.

Elmarko Jackson, Kansas

It’ll be difficult for Jackson to really stand out on a loaded KU team that is flush with veterans and mostly secure with who they have in the backcourt.

But Jackson has already forced his way into the rotation and may continue to earn a bigger role as the season progresses.

He gives the Jayhawks a needed second initiator next to Dajuan Harris and can be punishing downhill, straining defenses with his ability to attack and finish or to pull up and score.

Aaron Bradshaw, Kentucky

Bradshaw is unfortunately still dealing with a foot injury suffered from earlier this year and has yet to make an appearance this season for Kentucky.

The fact that we’ve not seen him yet after months of rehab hurts his stock a touch, as does the concern that comes with a foot injury for a 7-footer.

But I’m not giving up on him yet.

He’s 7-1 with an always-hot motor who can be a plug-and-play type big in the NBA as a lob threat and rim protector.

There may be some time when or if he returns that he struggles out of the gate, which is expected, but the draft process is about finding players who will be elite in years, not right away.

Bradshaw is a lottery talent in this class and I’d prefer to be more aggressive in ranking him that way on initial evaluation than having to do so later.

Mark Mitchell, Duke

It feels a bit like we’ve collectively forgot about Mitchell as a prospect on this loaded Duke team.

He’s a former five-star McDonald’s All-American with an elite frame for a forward and really impressive body control and fluidity for someone his size.

Against Arizona, he showcased that consistently by attacking from the perimeter into the paint, and one play in particular — the one below — shows just how easy he can make that look.

Mitchell needs to improve his ability to play through contact and be physically present all the time.

I’ve observed that he occasionally backs off from taking a shot at a defender or fades away even in the paint.

Even so, he is incredibly valuable for his ability to pass the ball at his size, stretch the floor as a shooter, and play versatile defense to guard players all over the court.

2024 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 10



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