NCAA Men’s Tournament: The Final Four’s Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

The 2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament Final Four is headlined by a historic UNC vs. Duke matchup. On the other side of the bracket lies a game between Villanova and Kansas. With four college basketball blue bloods in action, there are bound to be future stars not only shooting for a National Championship but also a top spot in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Here are the top five NBA prospects, in order, playing in this year’s Final Four.

(Some honorable mention shoutouts: Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji, Kansas wing Christian Braun, North Carolina center Armando Bacot, North Carolina guard Caleb Love.)

Now onto the real thing:

5. UNC forward Brady Manek

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, 23 years old

2021-22 stats: 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.5% shooting, 39.8% from three

Why he’s a top NBA prospect: This one might be a more controversial choice (Brady made his own controversial choice during this year’s tournament), but every NBA team is looking for a stretch-4 capable of knocking down a high percentage of threes at a high volume.

That’s exactly where Manek’s skillset lies.

He’s not a bad rebounder, either. His 5.9 boards per game don’t do justice to the way he boxes out and allows his frontcourt partner Armando Bacot — the ACC’s leading rebounder — to gobble up most of the opposing team’s misses.

And Manek has come on late, showing no fear on college basketball’s biggest stage. He’s averaging 22 points per game in the tournament, and it could be more had he not gotten ejected against Baylor.

He had 26 points in 28 minutes against the Bears when he got the boot.

And having a huge run through the last stretch of the season is an excellent way to be fresh on the minds of NBA scouts.

4. Duke center Mark Williams

Measurables: 7-feet, 242 pounds, 20 years old

2021-22 stats: 11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 71.9% shooting

Why he’s a top NBA prospect: And thus begins the run of Dukies.

Like all his fellow Blue Devils, Williams never got a real chance to shine and show off his complete set of skills on a loaded Duke team.

Especially since he was maybe the fourth option offensively, you really had to pay attention and watch the sophomore to see his impact on the game.

But when he made that impact, it was evident and critical.

Williams should immediately become a solid-or-better rim protector in the NBA with his 7-foot-7 wingspan. His rebounding and rim-running skills should translate as well.

He has more offensive ability than he gets credit for, but he should skyrocket up draft boards once NBA scouts can see him show those off in person.

Think Rudy Gobert but with an offensive game.

3. Duke wing Wendell Moore Jr.

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 213 pounds, 20 years old

2021-22 stats: 13.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 50.8% shooting, 41.4% from three

Why he’s a top NBA prospect: It sounds vague and completely unmeasurable, but Moore just does good things on a basketball court.

As a junior (a young one at 20 years old), Moore is Duke’s leader. He may not be the Blue Devils’ most talented player or their most productive, but he leads the team in intangibles.

His most significant improvement this season has been in his three-point stroke, which he’s finally gotten over the 40% mark. It was just 21.1% and 30.1% in his freshman and sophomore years, respectively.

He’s a good defender, plays with a high motor, is unselfish, and simply makes winning plays.

Moore’s impact doesn’t show up in the stat column, and maybe it won’t in the NBA either. But you’ll know he’s there when he moves the ball, plays hard, and his team wins.

2. Duke wing AJ Griffin

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 222 pounds, 18 years old

2021-22 stats: 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 50.2% shooting, 45.8% from three

Why he’s a top NBA prospect: Even more than Williams or Moore, Griffin is an example of a player with NBA star potential who’s been reduced to a glorified role player with the Devils.

Griffin has the tools to be a superstar three-and-D wing at the next level. But if nothing else, he’s going to get buckets.

The freshman has more than a handful of tools in his offensive bag. Pull-ups, stepbacks, hesitations — there are several ways Griffin can create a shot.

He also has lockdown defensive potential at 6-6 and 222 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan.

If it all comes together, Griffin arguably has a higher ceiling than the No. 1 player on this list.

1. Duke forward Paolo Banchero

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, 19 years old

2021-22 stats: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 47.8% shooting, 33.3% from three

Why he’s a top NBA prospect: Paolo is a top NBA prospect because he’s one of the best and most talented players in all of college basketball.

On a Duke team filled with four- and five-star talent, Banchero is the clear go-to scorer. And he can fill it up from almost anywhere on the court.

The projected top-three pick can score in the post and the midrange. He can back down smaller defenders and face up and blow by bigger ones.

He’s a crafty finisher — when he’s not overpowering defenders and just bulldozing to the rim.

The eye test shows a natural athlete with size, quickness, and speed. He can cut, pass, and handle the ball.

Think Blake Griffin’s athleticism, plus more athleticism, plus more skill.

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.

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