March Madness action for the 2022 championship continues Friday, bringing more of the top NBA prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft onto the hardwood. Here’s a look at some of the best prospects to watch in Friday’s games, along with their projected draft position at this time.
Prospects to watch in Friday’s games
Jaden Ivey, Purdue Boilermakers
Ivey has shades of Ja Morant, especially with his explosiveness. The Purdue guard has been battling some back issues but should be good to go in the first round of the tournament. Yale’s defense is no match for Purdue’s top-ranked offense when adjusted for efficiency, so Ivey could have a massive game Friday. He’s projected to be a top-5 selection in the upcoming draft.
Paolo Banchero, Duke Blue Devils
Banchero is in contention for the top overall pick, and will lead Duke in the 2-15 game against CSU Fullerton. The forward is a dominant force in the frontcourt, but also possesses the shooting potential needed in the league today. The Blue Devils should cruise in this contest, so Banchero might not play as much as some of the other prospects on display.
Jabari Smith, Auburn Tigers
Smith is also in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick and needs to have a big tournament after closing the regular season on a slump. He’s the primary playmaker on this team, so Auburn will be needing him in a big way in order to make a deep run. Smith remains a lethal three-point shooter despite his struggles in the last two games, so count on him to deliver from deep in this game.
E.J. Liddell, Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes are a trendy pick to get bounced by Loyola-Chicago, but Liddell could change that singlehandedly. He’s an all-around star offensively, averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting 37.6 percent from deep. Given his physical makeup, that shooting ability will be key at the next level. Liddell is projected to go in the late first round but could slip to the second if he doesn’t have a good showing in this game.
Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona Wildcats
The guard has made a nice jump as a full-time starter for Arizona this season, building on his impressive freshman campaign. With Kerr Kriisa likely to miss the game or be severely limited, this is a chance for Mathurin to display his dominance. The Wildcats should have no issues with the No. 16 seed, so this could be a light game for Mathurin in terms of workload. He’s projected to be a top-5 pick as well, but could slip to the middle of the lottery if he has a bad tournament run.