Here are the best NBA draft prospects playing in the Sweet 16


The potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft bowed out earlier than expected in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Jabari Smith and the No. 2-seeded Auburn Tigers were upset by No. 10-seeded Miami 79-61 in the second round of March Madness. The Auburn forward’s stellar freshman season came to a disappointing end as he shot just 3-for-16 from the floor in a lopsided loss to the Hurricanes.

While the next time you’ll see Smith playing will likely be on an NBA court, there are still several highly-touted prospects remaining in the Big Dance.

Here’s a look at the best NBA draft prospects who will be competing in the Sweet 16, which gets underway Thursday.

Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

Another potential No. 1 pick, Holmgren got off to a dominant start to the NCAA Tournament. The 7-foot freshman posted 19 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and seven blocks in a big win over No. 16 Georgia State.

Holmgren had a quiet offensive game against No. 9 Memphis, posting just nine points, but the shot-blocking menace did turn away four more shots before fouling out. His averages this season now sit at 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks on 60.9/39.2/73.2 shooting splits. That’s right, Holmgren has shot nearly 40% from 3-point range this season and on pretty decent volume (102 attempts).

Holmgren and No. 1 Gonzaga face No. 4 Arkansas on Friday.

RELATED: How to watch the Sweet 16 of the Men's NCAA Tournament


Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

Ivey has drawn comparisons to Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant, and for good reason. The combination of Ivey’s speed and athleticism makes him the most electrifying player in the nation.

The 6-foot-4 guard can shoot it, too, as he showed in No. 3 Purdue’s first two NCAA Tournament games. After knocking down three of six 3-pointers versus No. 14 Yale, Ivey drilled two clutch triples to help close out a victory over No. 6 Texas.

Another college season has certainly boosted Ivey’s draft stock, with the sophomore guard upping his numbers in nearly every statistical category. Ivey has recorded 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game on 46.4/36.4/74.4 shooting splits as a sophomore. If a team at the top of the draft needs a lead playmaker in the backcourt, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ivey go No. 1.

The Boilermakers battle the Cinderella squad of this year’s tourney, No. 15 Saint Peter’s, on Friday.

Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

Banchero rounds out the consensus top-four prospects in this year’s class, joining Smith, Holmgren and Ivey. The 6-10 forward from Duke can score in a variety of ways and at all three levels, both of which have been on display so far in March Madness.

Banchero is averaging 18 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists on 53.5% shooting from the field and 44.4% from deep through two NCAA Tournament contests. For the season, the freshman has tallied 17 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game on 47.8/31.7/72.4 shooting splits. 

He’ll look to stay hot when the No. 2 Blue Devils meet No. 3 Texas Tech on Thursday.

Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona

The No. 1 Arizona Wildcats were able to advance to the Sweet 16 in large part due to Mathurin’s heroics. Mathurin scored 11 of Arizona’s final 15 points, including the game-tying 3 in regulation, as the Wildcats avoided an upset with an overtime win over No. 9 TCU. The 6-6 sophomore wing finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and four assists against the Horned Frogs.

It was the second big-time performance in three games for Mathurin, who racked up 27 points and seven assists in Arizona’s win over UCLA in the Pac-12 conference tournament title game. Mathurin, the second-leading scorer in the Pac-12 this season, has averaged 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists on strong shooting slips of 45/5/37.2/77.1. After taking a sophomore leap, Mathurin is a projected lottery pick.

Arizona faces No. 5 Houston with a spot in the Elite Eight up for grabs on Thursday night.

AJ Griffin, G/F, Duke

Duke has a second projected lottery pick in Griffin. While he’s been relatively quiet so far in March Madness, Griffin is a bucket-getter and knockdown shooter.

The 6-6 freshman has shot a staggering 45.5% from 3-point range on 145 attempts. He’s also putting up 10.3 points per game on 49.8% shooting overall.

Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas

Agbaji is the top senior in this draft class. The 21-year-old was the leading scorer in the Big 12 this season, increasing his points per game average from 14.1 last season to over 19 this season. Agbaji, who is 6-foot-5, has been filling it up in an efficient manner as well, shooting 47% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. With real 3-and-D ability, Agbaji is a surefire first-round pick with a chance of going in the lottery.


Agbaji hasn’t been as effective in the NCAA Tournament, but the No. 1 Jayhawks will need him to find his groove when they face No. 4 Providence on Friday.