2024 NBA Draft prospect rankings: Ranking seven top players on Big Board to watch in the Champions Classic

Every year, the Champions Classic – one of the preeminent early-season events in college basketball – features big-name programs, big-name coaches and big-name players. This week’s festivities, a doubleheader slated for Tuesday night in Chicago between No. 9 Duke and No. 18 Michigan State followed by No. 17 Kentucky and No. 1 Kansas, figures to be no different with NBA talent scattered across the court and three total Hall of Famers in action on the sidelines. So, in our first official 2024 NBA Draft prospect rankings update , we figured hey, why not? Let’s just release it with a look at all the players in this year’s event.

Of which there are many!

Our first prospect rankings includes only a top-30 – an expansion from our teased top-10 earlier this fall – but of the 30, a whopping seven hail from the teams playing in the Champions Classic. Four of them are in our projected lottery grades. Two are inside the top 10. One is ranked No. 1.

Our list will eventually expand to 100 ahead of the draft season and will serve as a living, breathing landing page over the next few months leading up to the draft, with constant tweaks and changes as players pop on the radar, improve their stock or fall down. As things stand now just a week into the season, though, our rankings are right here.

Below are the big names to know in our rankings who will be in action on Tuesday by Big Board ranking:

1. Justin Edwards, Kentucky

He hasn’t exactly came out of the gate looking like an All-American or the future No. 1 pick, but a two-game sample size – in which he scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in blowout wins over New Mexico State and Texas A&M-CC – isn’t enough data to change my priors. Edwards was my No. 1 coming into the season and he remains No. 1 for now. He has a big 6-foot-8 frame, a smooth left-handed stroke and a finesse about his game that projects well as a do-it-all guard with wing size.

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7. Tyrese Proctor, Duke

Projecting forward into this season, Proctor is one of the bigger unknowns among lottery prospects who I’m betting will develop into validating this positioning. The first two games for him have been underwhelming, as he’s taken a back seat to Kyle Filipowski and been far too passive as the lead guard, but there’s a lot of room for him to grow into this spot. Remember: he reclassed last year and was one of the youngest freshmen in the sport, so this technically would have been his freshman year. If he can improve his outside shot and showcase his ability to float in and out between facilitator and attacker, he has a real shot to get picked higher than any of his fellow Duke teammates.

11. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Filipowski is a former five-star recruit who opted to come back for a second season at Duke despite being a first-round prospect and has thus far improved – dramatically – his standing for the 2024 class. Again: small sample size and all to consider. But he turned in 25 points and seven boards in the season-opener vs. Dartmouth then bounced back vs. a top-10 Arizona team loaded with frontcourt talent for another 25 points and eight boards. Duke is running a lot of its actions through him this season, and rightfully so, because right now he looks like a First Team All-American and potential. top-10 pick.

12. DJ Wagner, Kentucky

The physical transformation of DJ Wagner this offseason at Kentucky validates some of the buzz he’s earned this offseason leading into 2023-24 for reason for optimism as he enters his first, and potential last, year at Kentucky. Wagner’s worked hard to add muscle and has the sharpshooting ability to be a scoring weapon even on a loaded UK team right out of the gate. UK is trusting him to make plays with the ball in his hands, too, a welcome development that could further burnish his rising draft stock.

16. Elmarko Jackson, Kansas

It’ll be difficult for Jackson to really stand out on a loaded KU team that is flush with veterans and mostly secure with who they have in the backcourt. But Jackson has already forced his way into the rotation and may continue to earn a bigger role as the season progresses. He gives the Jayhawks a needed second initiator next to Dajuan Harris and can be punishing downhill, straining defenses with his ability to attack and finish or to pull up and score.

21. Aaron Bradshaw, Kentucky

Bradshaw is unfortunately still dealing with a foot injury suffered from earlier this year and has yet to make an appearance this season for Kentucky. The fact that we’ve not seen him yet after months of rehab hurts his stock a touch, as does the concern that comes with a foot injury for a 7-footer. But I’m not giving up on him yet. He’s 7-1 with an always-hot motor who can be a plug-and-play type big in the NBA as a lob threat and rim protector. There may be some time when or if he returns that he struggles out of the gate, which is expected, but the draft process is about finding players who will be elite in years, not right away. Bradshaw is a lottery talent in this class and I’d prefer to be more aggressive in ranking him that way on initial evaluation than having to do so later.

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28. Mark Mitchell, Duke

It feels a bit like we’ve collectively forgot about Mitchell as a prospect on this loaded Duke team. He’s a former five-star McDonald’s All-American with an elite frame for a forward and really impressive body control and fluidity for someone his size. Against Arizona, he showcased that consistently by attacking from the perimeter into the paint, and one play in particular – the one below – shows just how easy he can make that look.

Mitchell needs to work on being able to consistently be physical and play through contact. I’ve noticed he tends to fade away even in the paint or sometimes shies away from going at defenders. Still, the way he can put the ball on the floor at his size, stretch the floor as a shooter and be a defensive stopper with versatility to guard up and down the lineup is immensely valuable.

Top 10 2024 NBA Draft Big Board

1Justin EdwardsKentuckyFrG6-82Ron HollandG League Ignite-PF6-63Isaiah CollierUSCFrPG6-54Alex SarrFrance-C7-15Stephon CastleUConnFrPG6-66Matas BuzelisG League Ignite-PF6-87Tyrese ProctorDukeSophPG6-58Ja’Kobe WalterBaylorFrSG6-59Donovan ClinganUConnSophC7-210Izan AlmansaG League Ignite-PF6-10

Check out the complete Big Board ranking of 2024 NBA Draft prospects

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