With the college basketball season in full swing, here is the first edition of the 2022 SIlver Waves Big Board. A lot of surprising rankings here as this class is one of the more skilled and developed classes we have seen in a while. Let us know what you think!
By Aaron Pearlstein
The Freshman from Duke has been playing fantastically to start the year for Coach K's final season at Duke. His scoring ability all over the court and versatility are elite and will keep him in the top 5 in boards for the whole year. Banchero has showcased his shot creation in tight spaces, especially against Kentucky at MSG. Some of those shots looked like shot-for-shot copies of Jayson Tatum. Banchero must make better decisions such as going for steals, picking up his dribble too early, or taking too many shots in traffic. Regardless, Banchero's scoring ability will keep him as a high lottery pick come June.
Jabari Smith is one of the best freshmen in this class. The Auburn forward has showcased his elite play on both ends of the floor in their first part of the season. He can finish well through contact as well as initiate a fastbreak individually off a rebound. However, his best attribute is his defensive intensity and activity. Smith has excellent lateral quickness and foot speed to stay with guards and the strength and mobility to contain forwards down low. When the season is over, I would not be surprised to see Jabari at the top of this list. Jabari can work on his speed dribble, such as keeping it tighter to his body, especially in the fast break. Additionally, 17% of his defensive fouls have occurred down low, which, if he can lower, would be amazing for his defensive ranking, but still, there is an argument to be made that he is the most well-rounded player in this class.
The 7'0" Gonzaga forward is poised for a big year. His defensive potential, along with his offensive versatility, makes him an NBA prospect many have watched for years to come. The McDonald's All-American has exceeded expectations in Mark Few's system this year, averaging 11 ppg, 7 RPG, and 3.5 bpg. Holmgren is already an elite shot-blocking big man at 18 and should only look to improve in his year at Gonzaga. His stock could improve if he works on his perimeter defense and overall lateral quickness, along with improving his overall frame. Additionally, Holmgren has had to spend time on the bench early on in the year due to foul trouble, so if he cleans up those areas, he can easily be the #1 guy for the rest of the year.
The big man in Memphis has been turning heads in the preseason. At Memphis Pro Day, the buzz was Duren looked a lot like young Dwight Howard. Pretty insane comparison for an 18-year-old, but he has lived up to the hype in his first 4 games at Memphis. Averaging 15ppg and 11 RPG while also blocking 5 shots a game and shooting 75% from the field. Duren's ability to finish above the rim consistently while also being a shot-blocking threat is elite and should be coveted by the predicted high lottery teams. Having an elite big man is a game-changer for NBA teams today regardless of how the game has expanded out. A threat down low opens up so many paths offensively along with shutting off the paint defensively - Duren should be expected to be a locked-in top 5 pick in 2022. Duren can improve his resume by showing more movement offensively, such as setting more perimeter screens and cutting when open. He also needs to work on his free throw % desperately (66% this year), but it seems like it has improved since HS in his preseason work.
The sharpshooter out of Purdue looks to add on to a successful freshman season. One of the more consistent shot creators in the nation, Ivey has a consistent shot rotation that he keeps high and balanced. The biggest aspect of a future consistent shooter is a consistent release regardless of pressure or balance, and Ivey has that. I want to see Ivey use his elite finishing more in his sophomore season as he shot the ball well at the basket (60%), but only 33.6% of shots were at the basket, increasing his time there which would help him diversify his offensive game. I also want to see Ivey improve his dribbling, especially in isolation; having a tighter dribble will help him cut down on turnovers and help him get to his spots more efficiently (turned ball over in isolation 14% of the time). This could help him leapfrog other prospects throughout the season.
Jaden Hardy is one of the more fluid and effortless scorers that has emerged in some time. He has the ability to hit from deep while also being a blur in transition and a matchup nightmare for guards on drives. Hardy is an example of a guy that is just a baller. Sometimes the numbers do not look appealing, but a team can trust Hardy to go out and get a bucket on any possession. Guys like Jalen Green, James Bouknight, and Cam Thomas from last year's draft come to mind when thinking like this. It would be exciting to see Hardy work on his overall shot decision-making, rebounding on both sides of the court, and defensive strides.
Former Monteverde Academy forward Houston has been playing well for Michigan. His shooting splits are not up to par right now (38.5 FG% & 31.5 3FG%); however, the intangibles and IQ are an excellent sign for his future. The athletic forward is a blur in transition and needs to find a way to increase his time in the open court. Additionally, his defensive intensity needs to increase. Houstan is allowing opponents to shoot 56% from the field, a big part of it is gambling on steal attempts and then being out of place. Cleaning this up should lead to much more efficiency from the freshman.
The first international player on this big board, Nikola Jović, is a mobile forward with intensity and consistency on both ends of the floor. The forward can finish down low while also being able to space the floor with a great deep shot. Additionally, he is a great shot blocker for his size. This consistency will entice NBA teams, especially with the rise in trust in European prospects. Jović can improve his stock by showing more facilitation on the offensive end and becoming a more aggressive rebounder on both ends. Regardless his skill set on both ends of the court makes him an interesting prospect to watch throughout the year.
One of the best forwards in the class, Yannik Nzosa has an elite ability to finish down low while also being a proto-typical rim protector. Nzosa is an old-style NBA center that can score in the post well and be an elite rim protector. Nzosa also shows an ability to play off-ball well and run the floor as the big man. He needs to work on a face-up game to go with his inside play and learn how to guard PnRs in drop coverage and in a more efficient way overall. Yannik Nzosa will contnue to up his stock.
Opting to go play for his father at Milwaukee, Patrick Baldwin Jr. is one of the most effortless shooters in the class. His consistent and balanced stroke from deep will continue to be a good selling point to teams in the high lottery range. Baldwin Jr. needs to work on his slashing and the first step to get to the basket to enhance his offensive game. Defensively, Baldwin Jr. is fast on his feet and can defend any position on the court but shows lapses in focus defensively, such as losing his man on cuts. However, Patrick Baldwin Jr.'s offensive potential is too high to pass up here and he will look to cement this narrative throughout the year.
On this board, Kennedy Chandler is the top-ranked point guard. His ability to direct the game and facilitate one of the most explosive offenses will keep him in the lottery. Chandler has a 2.4 PPA and has accounted for 30% of all Tennessee assists to start the year. Along with this, Chandler is also an elite scorer - ranks in the top 70 in PPP through his first 2 collegiate games, especially from deep. Chandler can benefit from creating separation, especially at the basket, where he has only shot 50%. Defensively, Chandler has been able to contain his matchup on the perimeter but can work on closeouts and lateral quickness, especially with the increase in zones. Chandler had a tough game against Villanova but could still direct the offense, but his lack of separation hurt him against defenders like Caleb Daniels.
After withdrawing from the NBA draft last year, Prkačin will look to build upon the stellar resume he showed last year. Prkačin is an above-average scorer from all around the court. Prkačin is also a decent playmaker, especially off the dribble and in PnR settings. However, Prkačin needs to work on his shot decisions and overall consistency by playing with a more controlled pace, especially in transition, where he turns the ball over too often. Regardless, Prkačin's ability to score the ball, as well as being an above-average playmaker, makes him an intriguing prospect that should make his way into the first round if he shows patience and consistency.
The face of Overtime Elite, Jean Montero, is a fast combo guard that can shred defenses with his elusiveness and dribble control. Montero also shows a remarkable ability to facilitate and control the game well. Montero can easily slide into the top 8 throughout the season with his athleticism and point guard skills. Could work on his outside shot to become a triple threat as well as becoming an elite defender on the perimeter.
Incoming Junior forward Julian Champagnie will look to build upon a stellar sophomore season. In late July, Champagnie opted out of the 2021 NBA Draft, deciding to return to school at St. Johns. The forward's ability to create his own shot all over the court along with his finishing ability is elite and will keep him in lottery discussion throughout the year. Not many have him this high, but the consistent shooting stroke that allows him to shoot over taller defenders makes him a mismatch every time down the court in the Big East. The St. John's junior shot 38% from three last year, and now with a rested wrist, he will have the chance to show consistency year to year to NBA scouts. Last week's Indiana game showcased just that, putting up 32 points in a close game that turned many heads. His stock could improve with a more refined dribbling game to grab rebounds and go for St. Johns along with post defense so he can be able to switch defensively. Champagnie will continue to surprise people this upcoming season, and don't tell me I told you so when he is higher than 14 at the end of the year.
Kendall Brown is quickly becoming a fan favorite in the first few games this year. Brown plays with energy on every play and is the definition of a spark plug on the court. Compared to Draymond Green, his IQ and development increase every game while doing everything on the court. Almost putting up a triple-double against Nicholls showcased his ability to do everything, a real jack of all trades on the court. He can space the floor, facilitate, and defend at a high level, which will keep him in the area. It would be great to see fewer fouls overall when in the paint or post, but Brown is looking like a significant favorite in this draft class.
The lengthy freshman forward from UCLA is one of the best bets to move up this big board throughout the year. Watson has not gotten the minutes many thought he would up to this point, but his athleticism and potential are too high to pass up on in this range. Watson shows a great first step and can beat most matchups off the dribble with ease. Along with that, Watson showed in HS his ability to facilitate and defend down low. His shooting needs to improve, especially from outside, to become a triple threat but look for Watson to get more minutes and surprise many people.
Tyty Washington is a double-double machine at the point guard position, one of the more electrifying players this year. His ability to create his own shot also is elite such as his spot-up jumper off a PnR or in transition. Defensively, he is very active in passing lanes but has trouble against taller matchups which he must improve to go up these rankings. Additionally, I'd love to see Tyty work on not dribbling right away once catching the ball and taking the half-second to dissect the situation, reducing turnovers and setting him up for the more efficient plays. Look for Tyty to make a big splash in his presumed only year at Kentucky.
Max Christie is having a great start to the season for the Spartans. The athletic combo guard has shown his ability to create his own shot with ease. He needs to work on getting to the rim more, especially off the first step, which he lacks right now. Defensively, he is a great overall defender for size - a great shot blocker and being able to contain big man off switches down low—Christie is one of the most sound and consistent players in this class.
Daimion Collins has been one of the class's best rim protectors, only allowing matchups to score 24% of the time. Collins ranks in the 85th percentile in overall defense. Collins is not as active, only averaging 4.5 ppg in on average 11 mpg for the Wildcats. If he can develop a paint presence on offense to keep the defense on their toes. Collins is a lob threat whenever running downhill, but he should develop a way to create his own shot, especially in the paint. Lastly, Collins needs to cut down on his fouling - as he has racked up 7 fouls in 4 games and only 45 minutes. If he can clean those areas up, Collins will become an NBA Twitter favorite quickly.
In the preseason, Keels was not that high on this list; however, that game against Kentucky and his other initial games have made it impossible not to have him in this range. Trevor Keels's ability to get his own shot from anywhere on the court while also being able to take guards off the dribble and in the post due to his size is unmatched and will be a translatable skill into the NBA. Analytically, he has been one of the best players on both ends of the court in the nation. He has a 1 PPP on offense while also in the 84th rank on overall defense. It would be great to see Keels improve his finishing at the basket, especially around bigger matchups, but Keels has made it onto the scene, and he is here to stay.
After spending two seasons away from college basketball, one with Chameleon BX and one with Yakima Valley CC, Marjon Beauchamp signed with G-League Ignite. He is a high usage scorer that can create his own shot with ease. Additionally, he is always in passing lanes, defensively continually disrupting guards. However, besides his shot creation and athleticism on both sides of the court, Beauchamp lacks that elite skill such as facilitating or ball handling. Beauchamp's scoring ability will be enticing to teams throughout the year, but he should work on becoming a secondary ball-handler or facilitator to boost his stock.
Dieng is an athletic big man that can handle the ball in the open court. He shows an NBA coveted ability to grab rebounds and run to initiate the fastbreak; however, he can work on his ball-handling overall. He needs to keep the ball closer to his body, especially when doing a speed dribble. Defensively, Dieng can guard multiple positions but tends to have lapses in focus, such as going for steals or jumping for ball fakes. A young prospect, Dieng will clean up these areas and should make for a certified first-round pick.
Freshman point guard out of Florida State has started the year on the bench behind Anthony Polite, but the potential is there. The 6'7'' combo guard has an excellent feel for the game, especially on the offensive end, where he can score on all three levels. His shot is pure and balanced as he keeps his elbow in and his form does not change based on space or area on the court. Defensively, his upside is high due to his length and athleticism. However, Cleveland can work on his distribution and become a solidified facilitator at the 1 or 2 positions. Even though Cleveland has started on the bench, I think we have all learned not to doubt lengthy guards from Florida State who have played under Leonard Hamilton by now.
The electrifying point guard for Alabama, JD Davison, has come into the year with high expectations. One of the most athletic players in the nation, Davison can beat anyone off the dribble and finish well at the basket. Defensively, his lateral quickness stands out against most matchups, and he can stay in front of them well. However, Davison needs to learn to find consistency all over the court without relying on athleticism. For example, he does not keep his cheat aligned with the basket on layups; instead relies on athleticism to finish, which will come back to bite him. Additionally, he has had trouble with a deep shot this year (16% from three) but will turn it up once he has more college games under his belt.
UCLA's most important asset this year is Jaime Jaquez Jr. UCLA is high in the rankings, and a big part is Jaquez Jr's ability to create his own shot as well as being a fierce competitor on loose balls and rebounds. The forward never takes a play off and is a guy that any player would want to play alongside. The junior is shooting 58% from the field and a whopping 70% within inside the paint. Defensively, he is a pest all over the court and only allows his opponents to shoot 27% from the field. Jaquez Jr. needs to work on his lateral quickness and perimeter defense to showcase an ability to switch defensively. Do not be surprised if Jaquez Jr. makes his way into the lottery.
Dyson Daniels has an NBA-ready offensive IQ and playmaking feel for the game, one of the better playmakers in the draft. He is able to create scoring opportunities for both himself and others throughout his time on the court. Defensively, his length and athleticism are usually decimating to opponents, and he can completely disrupt a defense single-handedly. Look for him to turn it up in the G-League this year, as he is one of the smartest players in this class. However, Daniels is best going downhill to the basket but tends to shy away from that to look for the pass, which is a good problem, but he needs to learn to finish at the basket when he can and not over pass.
Junior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. must show consistency this year after testing the NBA waters both of the last two years. Shannon Jr. comes back to Texas Tech as an athletic freak of a guard that revolves his offensive game around his cutting and finishing ability. He is a smart off-ball player that understands how to move without the ball consistently. Defensively, Shannon is a fast and elusive perimeter defender that showcases his lateral quickness constantly. Shannon Jr. will have to show he can shoot the ball at a high level and facilitate as the off-ball guard. If he can do those, nothing is standing in his way to rocket up the board.
Lower than most here, but that is more to say about the depth of talent in this range than a shot at AJ Griffin. The big body forward has not logged many minutes for the Blue Devils, but when he has, he has showcased his shooting ability and rebounding ability. His 18 points in 21 minutes against Lafayette with 6 threes was a great representation of his abilities. Griffin will need more exposure to move up the rankings as well as a more refined defensive game down low, but his athletic and offensive potential is too high to pass up on in this range.
The sophomore guard out of Arizona is an athletic freak that can score all over the court but lacks a real elite skill right now. He is an above-average shooter, facilitator, and transition but needs to develop an offensively. Mauthrin had a great game against Michigan yesterday where he kept it simple and utilized his spot-up shooting for most of his points. His potential is all there, and he should be looked at as a great prospect. However, he needs to work on his decision-making and overall consistency, along with finding an identity.
Adding his experience at Kansas to his known defensive intensity and offensive game, Agbaji will be a great prospect all year. Agbaji has started the year great as he looks like one of the nation's more effortless scorers while also playing the defense he's known for during his college time. Last year he lacked consistency from the field, but that just cannot be said this year as he looks consistent and dangerous from all over the half-court offensively. If he keeps this up, he can make his way into the late lottery.
Flanigan is a mobile and lengthy three-guard that has come back for his junior season. He is expected to miss the next 10 weeks after having a procedure on his Achilles. Flanigan was a part of the All-SEC first-team predictions for the preseason. Flanigan is an above-average shooter and slasher inside the paint but needs to become a secondary facilitator. When he comes back healthy, he will hope to make a big splash in conference play.
Sophomore Duke center Mark Williams is a very sound player whose game can easily translate to the NBA game. He is fundamentally aware down low as well as being able to protect the rim down low. Williams is shooting 63% in the paint at the start of the season but should work on his offensive rebounding and put back game where he is only shooting 35% on 11 attempts. Williams is a great asset next to top scorers Banchero and Keels, and that is where his potential lies; he is a great supporting cast as a sound, efficient and hard-working center.
Michael Foster is an aggressive big man that can stuff the state sheet. Opted to play with the G-League Ignite this year, Foster has shown his ability to score in the post and down low against NBA players. Foster could increase his stock if he worked on his deep shot to keep the defense guessing along with his overall shot decision-making, as he tends to take some questionable shots throughout his offensive time. His athleticism and offensive potential are high, and with more consistency and patience, Foster could be an exciting prospect this year.
One of the most intriguing prospects on this list is Mouhamed Gueye. The 6'10'' 205 lbs forward is an uber-athletic big man who can stroke it from deep and finish down low. He needs to work on his defensive game, especially his switching ability, and needs to improve his free throw %.
Great scorer, especially off the dribble, Bryce McGowens has great shot mechanics and touch even when off-balance. Already averaging 17 ppg and 11 RPG for Nebraska, McGowens showcases his ability to score all over the court and an excellent rebounding game which was a focal point coming into this year for him. If he continues to play this consistently and efficiently, he will move up the rankings fast.
Excellent shooter out of Colorado. Jabari Walker needs to work on getting to the basket more, especially at his size. He does most of his work off the ball, especially on cuts so he should refine his offensive game to develop as a facilitator and paint presence. Playing almost double the minutes he played last year per game, his efficiency has not wavered, which is an excellent sign for his development.
Big combo guard that can oversize other guards on both the perimeter and the paint. Hugo Besson has a serviceable shot from deep and can facilitate well at the 1 but needs to work on lateral quickness and overall perimeter defense. He tends to be less athletic and fast than other matchups. The French guard can create a shot from all over the court, and as he continues to develop as a guard, he will move up the ranks.
Already averaging 25 ppg for Iowa, Keegan Murray has had a great start to the year. One of the top scorers in the nation, Murray shows an elite scoring ability from all three levels. Shooting 60% from the field and 38% from deep, Murray is a proven scorer who can create his own shot all around the court. Murray should work on learning to facilitate to increase his efficiency offensively.
Juzang is lower here than on other boards. His spot-up defense is alarming for such an open offense (FG 29.4% on spot-ups), and I am not sure his skills translate to the NBA game or if he can actually create space on the offensive end to be a serviceable offensive guard. However, Juzang is an elite player who can move into the first round easily with more consistency. He has had a great start to the year, and I hope he proves me wrong, but I'd love to see Juzang drive the ball more on offense and show facilitation skills as well.
After returning for his sophomore season, Marcus Bagley looks to show his elite scoring ability. Bagley dealt with a hamstring injury most of his freshman season and looks to be fully healthy now. Now needs to show overall consistency, especially defensively. He lacks intensity and lateral quickness on every possession, but look for Bagley to turn it up for Arizona State come conference play.
Playing in what has become one of the most elite and talented leagues in the world, Vukčević is a scoring forward that spaces the floor well and defends at a high level down low. He lacks the athletic skill to create his own shot right now as he shows trouble scoring at the basket or even creating space to get his shot off.
One of the more exciting players in the nation, Etienne, can flat-out play. Scouting and analytics can only go so far, and players like Etienne are just bucket getters. Etienne can work on his defensive intensity and overall consistency, but Etienne has a place in the NBA.
Fast, elusive guard that can score with the best of them. He needs to work on shot decision-making as well as lateral quickness, especially in PnR defensive situations. Hickman also could improve free throw shooting and facilitation but looks to be the athletic guard that can always find his shot.
Only averaging 15 mpg in his freshman season through 4 games, but his IQ and consistency stand out in his time on the court. Reluctant to even try to shoot the deep shot and will need to work on that to become a real prospect right now.
Athletic guard that can flat out shoot the ball from deep as well as finish at the basket. Powell needs to work on decision-making, and overall consistency, especially defensively but is a big part of Volunteers' offense and will look to continue.
The freshman guard has not played much for Michigan this year, but his potential on both ends of the floor is too high to glance over. Bufkin has had trouble from deep but has compiled 4 steals in 4 games and should expect to get more minutes later in the season.
Young guard out of Spain shows an ability to space the floor with his athleticism and versatility. Ubal is a raw prospect that needs to bulk up as well as improve his IQ defensively. He will be an interesting prospect to watch for this year or upcoming ones.
The high-flying guard out of Marshall will look to continue to improve his draft stock after returning for his senior year. Having another year of a very high usage rate, regardless his FG% is worrying. Expect him to turn it around, especially from deep, and his experience will be the reason a team takes a chance on him.
He has had a slow start to the year offensively but is a defensive beast. Richmond needs to work on patience offensively. He will continue to make a name for himself at Seton Hall, and do not be surprised if he moves up this list.
Texas Tech transfer Micah Peavy is a big, versatile guard that is a jack of all trades master of none. High an intensity player that does a little bit of everything on the court; however, he needs to find an identity, especially on the defensive end.
Jackson is an athletic freak that is still improving his game each game in and game out. He is not playing his best basketball this season, but I expect a big turnaround as his defense and shooting will improve. His game is so raw right now, and hoping it all molds into a terrific athletic player.
Mojave King is a proven scorer, especially from deep but needs to work on overall consistency, such as on defense where he gambles and goes for fakes way too much. He shows the ability to space the floor very well but needs to clean up his game to move up.
One of the best college players in the past few years, Dickinson is an elite post scorer for the Wolverines. After deciding to stay last year, Dickinson will look to capitalize on Michigan's talent and continue to excel in the paint as one of the biggest frontcourt threats in the nation. Dickinson needs to work on his defensive play overall.
The forward out of Indiana is having a good start to the year, averaging 19 ppg on 63% shooting. Jackson-Davis's ability to score on the inside is elite, but he needs to find a way to differentiate his offensive game. Additionally, his free throw woes have continued into his junior year, which needs to be fixed.
Excellent playmaker and offensive director but needs to work on overall aggressive offensive skills. Alocen has trouble beating others off the dribble, and shot is not trustworthy yet. If he can develop a serviceable offensive game, Alocen can be the next European guard in the NBA that successfully facilitates and runs offenses.
French combo guard that plays with high intensity on every defensive possession. Having trouble becoming a routine rebounder for his size as well as creating his own shot offensively. Tchicamboud needs to develop into an off-ball guard that can create his own shot and help with facilitation, but the athletic guard can easily be a target to move up on this board.
Slow start to the year for electrifying Marcus Williams. He is a great scorer but needs to cut down on turnovers and start facilitating the way he was last year - this would improve with an increase in overall patience offensively. He also needs to become a serviceable perimeter defender.
Brandon Huntley-Hatfield is an aggressive forward that can finish well above the basket. He needs to become an elite rebounder on both ends of the court and a proven rim protector to improve his stock.
The Villanova guard is one of the better on-ball defenders in the nation. He still has another year, but his ability to guard 1-4 and hit the deep shot entices me, and he should get a look from NBA teams.
The Memphis transfer was a first-round pick starting last year, but he stayed at school and transferred after a less than optimal season at Memphis. The 6'10'' center is a great shot blocker and finisher above the rim but cannot play in the post or guard on the perimeter. Cisse also needs to fix his free throw shot but can get a look here for pure potential.