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2022 NBA Draft: Q&A with Matt Babcock on Shaedon Sharpe, Jaden Ivey, more

2022 NBA Draft: Q&A with Matt Babcock on Shaedon Sharpe, Jaden Ivey, more

Approximately two months remain in the college basketball schedule and several players have used the conference slate to raise their stock.

Jaden Ivey is on fire at Purdue and has correspondingly broken into the top-three on Senior NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock's Big Board, updated for February. Other risers, such as Blake Wesley and Dereon Seabron, are appearing in the ranking for the first time this season.

The most notable new name might be Shaedon Sharpe. The five-star talent enrolled at Kentucky but has yet to play, and has not made a decision on entering the upcoming NBA Draft despite reportedly being eligible. With that recent news, Babcock has Sharpe ranked No. 5 overall.

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I had several questions for Babcock after his recent update. Here are his thoughts:

1. How did you assess Shaedon Sharpe's place on your new Big Board?

I find Shaedon Sharpe’s situation to be unique. He finished at Dream City Christian early and enrolled at Kentucky recently. He’s practicing with the team, but there is not a clear answer as to whether he’ll play this year or not. NBA scouts are limited, per NBA rules, which high school events they are allowed to attend. From my understanding, Peach Jam was the only event that teams had a chance to see Sharpe play. Luckily for me, I don’t have to deal with any restrictions at all, so, therefore, I’ve had the chance to see Sharpe several times.
 
At 6-foot-6, he has a tremendous physical profile, is incredibly explosive, and he’s an excellent shot-maker with range — a great combination of attributes if you ask me. His circle has publicly said he plans to be at Kentucky next year, but history would suggest that an opportunity to be a high lottery pick is too appealing to pass up. If he does decide to enter the draft, I think he’ll be in the mix with teams picking at the top of the draft, and rightfully so.
 
2. What has Jaden Ivey done to break into the top tier at No. 3?
 
I recently watched Purdue at Iowa and had the chance to see Ivey play in person. I find it challenging to properly grasp players' physical tools and body movements on film, among other things. In Iowa, I was blown away by Ivey's elite athleticism and ability to create with the ball in his hands. Considering that the NBA is such a guard-driven league at the moment, I put a lot of value in Ivey's style of play and his potential to develop into a primary scorer.
 
My current rankings of the top four or five players are certainly not written in stone by any means. I can't say I'm overly excited about this year's draft from top to bottom, but I think the first group is legit.
 
3. What inspired the new appearances by Blake Wesley and Dereon Seabron?
 
I did not have Blake Wesley or Dereon Seabron as high-priority prospects to watch prior to the season, but both of them have been great this year. Wesley has good size and length for a guard and a knack to score the ball. He has stepped into a primary role for Notre Dame as a true freshman after not being all that highly touted out of high school.
 
Seabron is a little older, but he does a lot of good things too. He is really good going to the hole, is very active and well-rounded. In fact, he’s averaging nine rebounds per game, impressive for a perimeter player.
 
I do have questions about both prospects' outside shooting, but I like their games regardless. I'm looking forward to continuing to familiarize myself with both of them.
 
4. Who are some other notable risers in the early weeks of conference play?
 
A few players that are trending up recently for me are A.J. Griffin from Duke, Jeremy Sochan from Baylor, and Tari Eason from LSU.
 
5. How would you rank the top prospects on UCLA at this stage?
 
I think Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez would be good options for teams selecting in the second round. I think Juzang’s outside shooting ability will translate to the next level well, and Jaquez is a tough and solid player that does a lot of little things that contribute to winning basketball.
 
At UCLA, the tricky one is freshman Peyton Watson; he has tons of upside but plays a minimal role. I’m intrigued by him, but I find it challenging to determine how he’d fit in this draft exactly. Therefore, we didn’t include him in our latest big board update, but I’m keeping a firm pulse on his situation.
 
6. How would you compare Isaiah Mobley to his brother, Evan?
 
Evan is a terrific player, but I think Isaiah is a good player in his own right. At 6-foot-10, Isaiah has excellent size and length. I think he can play the four or five, and he's highly skilled. He’s not overly athletic, but there’s a place for him in the NBA.
 
7. Where is the Baylor wing duo of Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan at in their growth?
 
Oh, I love the Baylor kids! I just saw them play at Alabama. Brown has been high on our list all season long. He has a great frame and is about as athletic as it gets. We moved him back a touch because I’m a little concerned with his lack of creation skills, but he could develop into an elite complementary player.
 
Sochan has continued to impress me more and more as I’ve gotten to know his game better. He’s naturally big and has incredible defensive feet that could allow him to become an elite defender. He’s also shown flashes of versatility on the offensive end, as he can put it on the floor and shoot from outside a little bit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to move up our board. 
 
8. Which college basketball team (that you've seen recently) has done an especially great job maximizing their draft-eligible players?
 
Keep in mind that many of the top college prospects I focus on are freshmen, and many of them are not put into roles to properly display their talents. In most cases, college coaches prioritize winning games and depend on veteran players rather than showcasing NBA potential, which is understandable. Some coaches hold back their young players, though, in hopes they return to school for another season. From an evaluation standpoint, it can be frustrating.
 
To answer your question, I think Jaden Ivey of Purdue, Keegan Murray of Iowa, and Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez of UCLA are all used well. Unsurprisingly, none of them are freshmen.
 
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