The 2023 Big East Draft Board: Talented Wings & Bruising Bigs Abound


UConn's Jordan Hawkins is just one of many UConn Huskies that will appear on NBA draft boards next year. Photo Credit: Gregory Fischer, Getty Images.

This season’s rendition of the Big East will feature a litany of tournament ready teams flush with pro talent. Don’t take our word for it, here are some of the league’s rising stars and where others see them. We caught up with CJ Marchesani (@cjmarchesani) of The Stepien and Adam Spinella of The Box and One (@TheBoxAndOne_) to get a read for where the Big East talent pipeline may land next June.


Cam Whitmore – 6’7” 220 – Villanova – Freshman

Whitmore’s physicality lends one to believe he has the body to transition well to the professional level. Most 2023 mock drafts have him safely in the lottery, and some with Whitmore among the top 3. At just 18 years old next season, Whitmore will already have the talent to abuse opposing forwards and blow past larger defenders. The real test will be Whitmore’s ability to create on his own within half court sets as scouts already see him as a nearly unstoppable finisher in transition. Whitmore is the prototypical modern NBA power forward.


Scout’s Take: “Cam has the potential to be a Top 7 pick in 2023. His physicality and athleticism combination blended with his vision have always been impressive, but if he shoots the ball like he did for Team USA recently he could be one of the first two college freshmen selected in the draft next year.” – C.M.



Jordan Hawkins – 6’5” 183 – UConn – Sophomore

The billing on Hawkins entering last season was that the skillset was evident but he needed to grow into being a reliable ball handler. This was especially evident last November when he coughed up a critical turnover against Auburn in the Battle for Atlantis (the Huskies managed to hold on despite). Hawkins’ handle will tighten up and a summer of physical development could very well put “Hawk” in mid-first round territory by June’s draft.


Hawkins’ 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

15.8

5.3

1.4

0.9

0.9

.353

.333

.821

Scouts Take: “Hawkins makes a lot more sense as a big scoring guard if his efficiency numbers get better next year. I think he’s a pretty impressive shooting prospects, but his ability to score efficiently and sharpen himself into a more well-rounded offensive threat will be the difference I whether he can be an impact player or not.” – C.M.



Arthur Kaluma – 6’7” 220 – Creighton – Sophomore

Kaluma’s baby Blue Jays, a collection of heralded freshmen stars last season, made an immediate impact as the group ascended into the Big East Tournament Final against eventual league champ Villanova. Kaluma’s efforts were no small part of Creighton’s success (24.3% usage rate in 2021-2022). Following the departures of Ryan Hawkins and Alex O’ Connell, Kaluma figures to be an integral piece of a group that most prognosticators have as a pre-season top-10 team.


Kaluma’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

15.5

8.0

1.9

0.9

0.9

.444

.265

.671

Scout’s Take: “The idea version of Kaluma is a perfect complementary player for a Creighton roster with a lot of talent around him: a physical jack of all trades guy that fills in the gaps on both ends. He needs to cut down on the turnovers next year for that to happen; a 1:2 AST/TO ratio is pretty tough for a wing. Tightening up his handle a little or ideally just forcing less high risk dribble drives would be a good start there. Any three point improvement would be icing on the cake, but I don’t know if he as the natural touch to his game to project that.” – C.M.



Andre Jackson – 6’6” 205 – UConn – Junior

The knock on Jackson has been jump shot. Everything else is there—and in spades. The mechanics are clunky though summer film indicates he’s cleaned up some of the awkwardness scouts saw last season in a year where he still managed to convert 36% of his 3-point attempts. The modern NBA requisite is the ability to guard in space and switch on screens. This he can most certainly do. Jackson has the quickness to keep up with guards and the strength to square up against wings. This may be the year it all comes together for Jackson.


Jackson’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

9.3

9.4

4.2

1.6

0.8

.426

.361

.714



Colby Jones – 6’6” 203 – Xavier – Junior

A top-150 prospect out of Birmingham, Jones spurned southern suitors like Alabama, Clemson, and Auburn to play for Travis Steele and the Musketeers. Enter Year 3 and Jones will have a new voice in the locker room with the arrival (or rather return) of Sean Miller to the Queen City. Miller has graduated plenty of swingmen to the pro level (think Andre Iguodala, Josh Green, Solomon Hill, Stanley Johnson—just to name a few) so there’s a pathway to Jones’ becoming a functional pro wing someday who can do a little bit of everything while also offering plus-side defense.


Jones’ 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

13.9

8.7

3.8

1.8

0.6

.483

.292

.680

Scout’s Take: “Really well-rounded guard who needs to shoot it a tag more consistently form three point to be on NBA radars…really like his defense and energy level…has glue guy potential.” – A.S.



Kadary Richmond – 6’6” 182 – Seton Hall – Junior

It’s easy to dream on what Richmond could be: elite size for a point guard with rarified length to be a nuisance defender at the pro level (6th in the Big East in steals). A former top 100 prospect, Richmond looks to have the keys to rookie head coach Shaheen Holloway’s offense in 2022-2023 which should give him the bandwidth he needs to show scouts his offensive game can match what he offers defensively.


Richmond’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

13.7

5.5

6.4

2.6

0.5

.417

.345

.750

Scout's Take: “…he doesn’t shoot it well, but he’s proven that when he gets going he can take over a game. Really toolsy passer and can be a defensive weapon.” – A.S.



Ryan Kalkbrenner – 7’0” 225 – Creighton – Junior

You could probably feel Omaha hold their collective breath when the Blue Jay big man went down against San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with what appeared to be a debilitating knee injury. Thankfully, Kalkbrenner’s prognosis was far brighter than originally feared and he appears on track to be anchor the Creighton defense once again this fall. It’s hard to lose track of the guy not only because of his length but because of the impact he makes on the court. The 7-footer relentlessly keeps possessions alive with his offensive rebounding prowess and the way he consistently deters interior attackers with his shot blocking acumen. These things will most certainly translate to the pro level.


Kalkbrenner’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

17.7

10.4

1.2

0.6

5.2

.646

.250

.736

Scout’s Take: “He toyed with being a stretch big last year, and I think adding that to his arsenal would make him a much better prospect…underrated in terms of his rim protection…he’s a sneak good college player with some room for growth in the future.” – A.S.




Andre Curbelo – 6’1” 175 – St. John’s – Junior

The talent is there though last season was a year to forget for the former Big Ten 6th Man of the Year. Following a freshman year where Curbelo contributed 2.6 Win Share (a meager 0.2 as a sophomore), year deux saw his minutes dwindle, nearly extinguishing the promise that scouts once saw. Curbelo is back home in New York and appears poised to thrive in Mike Anderson’s environment where he can orchestrate the Red Storm system or play off the ball alongside Posh Alexander.


Curbelo’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG (stats while at Illinois)

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

15.5

6.3

6.5

1.5

0.2

.329

.176

.745

Scout’s Take: “Unbelievable passer with the ball in his hands but needs a system fully catered to him…can’t really shoot it off-ball, and teams can go under screens…got played off the floor in some circumstances with Illinois last year, but St. John’s is the right system for him if he can play the point.” – A.S.



Baylor Scheierman – 6’6” 205 – Creighton – Junior

The shooting touch is an elite as they come at the college level and news of Scheierman’s transfer from SDSU to Creighton launched the Blue Jays into most pre-season Top-10 lists. There are concerns about lateral quickness and Scheierman’s ability to guard springy wings. Perhaps his knack for shot making is enough to draw the attention of pro scouts this winter.


Scheierman’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG (stats while at South Dakota State)

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

19.5

9.4

5.4

1.6

0.2

.508

.469

.802

Scout’s Take: “The shooting is obviously easy to fall in love with, but the athleticism and functional playmaking scares us a bit. Really rare to see these guys make it big in the NBA…it’s not a high percentage gamble for a team to make with a draft pick.” – A.S.



Adama Sanogo – 6’9” 240 – UConn – Junior

If this were 1995 the Charles Oakley comparisons would be aplenty and Sanogo would have a stronghold on a 1st round selection. But it’s not 1995 and the NBA has seemingly slighted any big man who isn’t adept from beyond 15”. Sanogo’s ability to catch the difficult pass and finish around the rim will keep him in the draft day conversation despite all the detractors. What’s more is that he’s seemingly added something to his game each of the past two seasons and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see a quicker, leaner, Sanogo not only lock down a Big East Player of the Year accolade but force himself onto draft boards the same way he obliterates opponents: via brute force.


Sanogo’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

20.2

12.1

1.4

1.2

2.6

.504

-

.687



Posh Alexander – 6’0” 200 – St. John’s – Junior

Expectations were appropriately high last season for the Johnnie’s—and for good reason. Year two of Alexander flanking Big East 1st team selection Julian Champagnie meant a possible NCAA berth though a lackluster out-of-conference resume left the Red Storm out in the cold last March. Alexander will become the primary focus for opponents in his junior season though he’ll get some help with the additions of Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo and DePaul transfer David Jones. The question remains whether Alexander can take over a game with more than just lock-down defense.


Alexander’s 2021-2022 Production per 40/MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BLK

FG%

3PT%

FT%

17.3

5.5

6.9

2.9

0.2

.498

.217

.741

Scout’s Take: “Love his defense…he’s in the perfect system [at St. John’s] allowing him to impact the game the most…but not sure if there’s a major pro future there for him.” – A.S.




A Preview of Coming Attractions: Off the Radar—for Now


Zion Cruz – 6’5” 177 – DePaul – Freshman

The opportunity exists for Cruz (#67 recruit in the 2022 class, per 247) to take the reigns as a featured piece of Tony Stubblefield’s offense following the graduation of Javon Freeman-Liberty and the departure of David Jones (transfer to St. John’s). Both combined to occupy 29.7 shots which means Cruz will have ample chances to do what he does best: produce offense.



Jack Nunge – 6”11” 245 – Xavier – Senior

Nunge is an intriguing prospect considering the range of skills he offers: distance shooting (20.3 PP/40 alongside 37% 3PT), tenacious offensive rebounding (2.4 offensive boards/game), and the wherewithal to avoid foul trouble (1.8 fouls/game) when matched up against the Big East’s formidable centers. Following an injury riddled start to his career at Iowa, the real Jack Nunge has a ton to offer, hence his All Big East Honorable Mention selection last year.



Justin Moore – 6’4” 210 – Villanova– Senior

Photo Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

We may not see Moore at all this season following an achilles rupture during the NCAA Tournament but a return to form, whether this year or next, would catapult Moore back into a 2nd round conversation for a pro franchise looking to add a capable combo guard set in the mold of former Nova products. An All-Big East 2nd Team selection, Moore will contribute immediately once he returns.


Jared Bynum – 5’10” 180 – Providence – Senior

Friar fans celebrated the return of All-Big East 2nd Team selection Jared Bynum’s decision to withdraw from the 2022 draft—a decision that dragged out to late May, just days before the June 1st withdrawal deadline. His return instantaneously gives the Friars a floor-leader and the league’s 6th Man of the Year will transition into Ed Cooley’s maestro. Could Bynum parlay a gaudy 41% 3-PT stroke into pro potential? Even if his shot isn't falling, Bynum is a top-flight distributor evidenced by an elite assist rate (42nd in KenPom's metrics).


Kam Jones – 6’4” 185 – Marquette – Sophomore

Jones’ rookie season landed him a Big East Freshman Team unanimous selection and next season Jones will grow into even more of a focal point following the graduation of backcourt mate Darryl Morsell. The requisite skills for Jones to take the next step are already in place; he shot a formidable 39% from 3-PT and proved to be adroit enough orchestrating the offense that he’ll likely see even more time at the controls of Shaka Smart’s offensive schemes in 2022. In the modern NBA the phrase “combo-guard” is no longer a pejorative but rather, a compliment. For the sake of Kam Jones, this is a boon for the rising sophomore.


Ryan Nembhard – 6’0” 170” – Creighton – Sophomore

The only other unanimous Big-East Freshman Team selection, Nembhard will one day join his brother Andrew as a pro though his path may look different. While his size may be a hindrance to his professional prospects, Nembhard needs to look no further than NBA guards like Fred VanVleet for a blueprint on how to carve out a professional role as a reliable shot creator and facilitator. Nembhard finished 4th in the Big East in assists per contest and showed his durability evinced by finishing 3rd in the conference in minutes (34.8 MPG) before sidelined with a season-ending wrist injury. The sophomore version of Nembhard will need to show improved strength with the ball to avoid a repeat of the 3.6 turnovers/40 he showed in Year 1, mostly a product of bigger, more physical guards forcing the freshman to cough up the second most turnovers in the Big East (85).


Potential At the Peripheral


David Jones – 6’6” 197 – St. John’s – Junior

Jones’ transfer within conference will most certainly elevate this year’s DePaul vs. St. John’s matchup and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jones catch the eye of scouts following last year’s 19.4 points/40. “Toughness and relentless work ethic on both ends of the floor,” Mike Anderson noted after news of Jones’ signing. “He plays with an edge. He’s a terrific scorer and rebounder with tremendous athleticism.”



Brandon Murray – 6’5” 182 – Georgetown – Sophomore

Photo Credit: GU Hoyas

A 2022 All-SEC Freshman Team selection, Murray will have plenty of opportunities to take the next step on a rebuilt Hoya squad. Murray tallied double-figures in 16 games for LSU last season, averaging 10 PPG on 43% shooting. The pedigree is there (#82 high school prospect in the class of 2021, per 247 composite ranks) and now with another year of development, Murray’s name may become commonplace on the back-end of draft boards someday.


Mark Armstrong – 6’2” 160 – Villanova – Freshman

A local product, Armstrong can score, distribute, and defend. He may be a on a different trajectory than fellow freshman Cam Whitmore; Armstrong (#50 in 247 2022 rankings), will generate his share of buzz someday soon once his body catches up to his game.



Donovan Clingan – 7’2” 248 – UConn – Freshman

Clingan, a consensus top-50 incoming recruit, brings immediate offensive firepower to Hurley’s schemes though he’s still developing on the defensive end. Even at his size, Clingan looks fully capable of being a threat from distance. We may look up someday soon and see the complete package come together in Storrs. Clingan has already rebuilt his body this summer, making it easier and easier to project a lofty outcome for the Connecticut product.


Kam Craft – 6’5” 180 – Xavier – Freshman

Sean Miller has plenty of tools in his offensive arsenal and, Craft, the #53 overall recruit per 247, compliments the already fearsome set of weapons the Musketeers have at their disposal. Craft has the savvy to get his shot off in traffic and the talent for Miller to draw up deliberate offensive wrinkles that’ll get the talented freshman involved.



Samson Johnson -- 6’11” 210 – UConn – Sophomore

Johnson has the type of frame pro scouts covet-- long, lean, and athletic. The skillset is still raw but it’s hard to overlook a 7’6” wingspan and a motor that’ll get the former #63 recruit from the class of 2021 plenty of burn in the UConn frontcourt.



Trey Alexander – 6’4” 185 – Creighton – Sophomore

Photo Credit: Creighton Athletics

Alexander filled in admirably following a wrist injury to incumbent point guard Ryan Nembhard. Alexander will play something of a combo guard this season, spelling Nembhard at the lead spot while also having plenty of opportunities to play off the ball. The former #76 recruit from the class of 2021 has a game that’ll entice pro scouts in coming years.



Ryan Mutombo – 6’11” 235 – Georgetown – Sophomore

The #120 recruit from the class of 2021 per 247, Mutombo showed enough in Year 1 to prove he can impact the game at the defensive end. There hasn’t been any finger waving a la Dikembe, but the younger Mutombo will get a full season to sharpen his repitoire in practice against boomerang transfer Qudus Wahab. Mutombo’s per 40 numbers are encouraging (17.2 P/40, 10.2 R/40, 2.9 B/40) though it may be some time before he has a path to the pros akin to other defense-first bigs like Christian Koloko.


Tristen Newton – 6’6” 187 – UConn – Senior

Newton will have two years of eligibility remaining in Storrs and he’s a readymade basket-maker Day 1 for Hurley’s Huskies (20.3 points/40 in 2021-2022). Newton was asked to do a ton during his time at East Carolina, sometimes forcing plays that weren’t there because he had to. Given added space to create and get clean looks, Newton appears poised to thrive in Storrs.


Bryce Hopkins – 6’7” 220 – Providence – Sophomore

Hopkins will have large shoes to fill following the departure of Nate Watson so scouts won’t have to wait long to see Hopkins play a major role in Ed Cooley’s system. The #39 recruit in the class of 2021, Hopkins freshman season in Kentucky fizzled his draft stock as he saw just 6.5 MPG during his 28 appearances for the Wildcats.


Caleb Murphy – 6’4” 185 – DePaul – Junior

Murphy gets a fresh start for the Blue Demons following two seasons at South Florida where he has yet to develop a shooting stroke that could make him a viable threat from deep (career 20% 3PT). Attacking the rim and finishing in transition are things Murphy does well but he’ll need to do far more for pro scouts to get excited about the former top-100 recruit.


Worth Keeping Eyes On: Alex Karaban (UConn), Tray Jackson (Seton Hall), Simas Lukosius (Butler), Devin Carter (Providence), AJ Storr (St. John's), Stevie Mitchell (Marquette), Chuck Harris (Butler), Caleb Daniels (Villanova), David Joplin (Marquette), Manny Bates (Butler)


Which Big East program's prospects are you most excited to see in 22-23?

  • Butler

  • Creighton

  • DePaul

  • Georgetown






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