The NCAA tournament officially starts on Tuesday, signaling the most exciting three weeks in college basketball. As the field of 68 eventually gets down to one team left standing with the championship trophy, some of the top NBA prospects will be on display.
Chet Holmgren will be trying to lead No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga to its first NCAA men's basketball title. Jabari Smith helped guide Auburn to an unexpected 27-5 season and a No. 2 seed in the Midwest. And Duke's Paolo Banchero is one of the Blue Devils' five first-round prospects who are hoping coach Mike Krzyzewski's legendary career ends by cutting down the net at the Final Four in New Orleans.
In honor of March Madness, ESPN's NBA draft experts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have complied a mock draft with just players participating in the NCAA tournament. The names at the top will look familiar, but other prospects make their debut on this unique mock draft exercise and will be players to watch in March.
Note: The projected 2022 draft order is based on the previous NBA mock draft from Feb. 23. The full 1-58 order also reflects picks owed and owned.
All times Eastern.
Chet Holmgren | Freshman | Gonzaga | 7-foot-1 | PF | Age: 19.8
14.2 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game, 3.6 blocks per game, 1.8 assists per game
When: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Georgia State | Thursday | 4:15 p.m. | TNT
What to watch for: We've truly never seen an NBA prospect quite like Holmgren: A shot-blocking, lob-catching, 3-point shooting, ballhandling 7-foot-1 "big man" with the fluidity of a guard and a relentlessness that doesn't match his slender, 195-pound frame. With a body type that earns him comparisons ranging from Kevin Durant to Brandon Ingram to Kristaps Porzingis to Bol Bol, Holmgren has let his game do the talking, as he is in the midst of a record-breaking freshman season for Gonzaga. He is the only prospect in NCAA history to average at least 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks while shooting over 70% from 2 and 40% from 3, and he's doing so on the No. 1 team.