2024 NBA Draft: Ranking Duke's draft prospects entering March Madness

The Duke Blue Devils are ripe with future NBA talent. Here's who to watch out for in the NCAA Tournament.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke Blue Devils
Kyle Filipowski, Duke Blue Devils / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed in the South Region. That sets up a matchup with No. 13 Vermont in the first round. Obviously, Duke is favored — with enough combined talent and experience to mount a deep March Madness run.

Kyle Filipowski returned last season for what he termed "unfinished business." Now is his chance to deliver. Jon Scheyer is a bright coach, but he's still looking to lead Duke to the promised land for the first time post-Coach K. As the Blue Devils navigate this relatively new chapter, the pressure has never been more intense.

It's easy to look ahead to next season when Cooper Flagg — easily the most exciting domestic prospect since Zion Williamson — will don the Duke uniform. But the Blue Devils need to focus on the here and now, with several key pieces expected to declare for the 2024 NBA Draft at season's end.

Here is a rundown of the best prospects on the team, ranked from worst to best.

6. Jeremy Roach is too good to ignore as Duke's leader

It's easy to write off Jeremy Roach as a 22-year-old small guard without outlier athleticism. But, numbers talk, and Roach has been a steadfast on-court leader in his senior season. The rare four-year Duke standout, Roach is a high-I.Q. facilitator (3.1 assists to 1.3 turnovers) and efficient 3-point shooter (43.6 percent).

He's not the highest-volume sniper, but Roach has steadily improved his jumper to complement a consistent dribble-drive game. He's capable of offsetting his slender 6-foot-1 frame with creative finishes in traffic, often weaving layups through the tightest windows.

It's hard to advocate full stop for an older, below-the-rim guard like Roach — especially one who's a good shooter and a good passer, but not elite in either category — but his consistency as the head of Duke's offense deserves recognition. He's a solid two-way contract guard, or at least a Summer League invitee.

5. Mark Mitchell has prototypical NBA physical tools

We can be honest. Watching Duke sophomore Mark Mitchell isn't always fun. He's not exactly a basketball aesthete. His movements are way too clunky and erratic on offense, and that 3-point shot (27.5 percent) isn't enough to inspire confidence from NBA teams. But, at the end of the day, he has the physical tools and the relentless motor to stick on radars regardless.

Mitchell is the prototypical NBA wing in terms of his frame — 6-foot-8 with good explosiveness and long arms. He consistently pops on the defensive end, where he makes things happen with an insatiable appetite for stops. Mitchell can switch screens, guard several positions, and leverage his physicality to swing the momentum of possessions. Those are traits that will keep NBA teams coming back.

The offense just has to improve. Mitchell can use his strength to bully college defenders at the rim. He passes well and generally plays within himself, but the shooting is a major red flag. Defenders will ignore Mitchell behind the 3-point line until further notice.

4. Tyrese Proctor fades in and out of games too much

On the surface, Tyrese Proctor brings a lot to the NBA Draft conversation. He's 6-foot-6, blessed with a preternatural gift for playmaking. He reads the defense at light speed and rarely makes mistakes (3.8 assists to 1.3 turnovers), often operating as Duke's primary table-setter.

The only holdup for Proctor is his general inability to pressure the defense, at least on a consistent basis. Proctor can shift gears and keep defenders off-balance with his handle, but he lacks the burst to get to the rim and finish. NBA length will only make Proctor's life harder. He's an improved 3-point shooter, but far from elite. He lacks dynamism off the bounce. There are similarities to Lonzo Ball, but Proctor doesn't offer nearly the same defensive ceiling, not to mention Lonzo's deep 3-point range and live-wire confidence. Proctor is far too subdued.

If Proctor can hammer home the pull-up jumper in offseason workouts and start to supply a more potent self-creation threat, that will unlock his passing. On defense, there's a lot to like. He has the length and instincts to make a pronounced impact. It's just a matter of becoming a more assertive, more explosive offensive threat.

3. Caleb Foster has all the tools, now he needs the consistency

Caleb Foster never quite popped as expected, but the freshman has a ton of desirable traits. For one, he's 6-foot-5 — great positional size for a point guard. Foster needs time to develop his instincts as a playmaker, but he can create advantages with his handle and break down the defense as a slasher.

Foster's scoring flashes are absolutely, 100 percent real. He's a glitzy ball-handler, using every manner of evasive maneuver to keep defenders guessing. Foster gets to the rim for crafty finishes and he's a pull-up savant, capable of creating space to launch his shot at will.

The defense is the primary holdup right now. Despite his size, Foster doesn't offer much resistance on that end. He has been somewhat buried in the Duke backcourt too, often taking a backseat to the likes of Jeremy Roach or Jared McCain. He could benefit from another year at school with a more robust role. On the other hand, NBA teams might bet on upside in a weak class and convince Foster to declare in 2024. He's a classic second-unit spark plug in the making.

2. Kyle Filipowski is Duke's lifeblood

If Duke plans on going deep into March Madness, it will require a strong effort from Kyle Filipowski. Fully entrenched in the Duke community and with offseason hip surgery in the rearview mirror, Flip has made several crucial improvements in his second collegiate campaign. He's finishing more proficiently around the rim, the defense is much better, and he has really developed into an emotional leader — sometimes to a fault.

NBA teams are naturally drawn to Flip's impressive skill set in the frontcourt. He can dribble, shoot, and pass, an ever-precious combination for 7-footers. Flip is regularly setting screens and facilitating on the short roll — a trait NBA coaches will fawn over. He can bully mismatches in the post, or pop out to the 3-point line and draw rim protectors away from the basket.

Flip really can't hit pull-up jumpers, but he's a dexterous driver who can beat closeouts and deliver advanced passes on the move. His length (or lack thereof) with a 6-foot-10 wingspan is a concern. He can struggle finishing against elite size in the paint. On defense, it's fair to question how much of Flip's increased defensive playmaking numbers (1.1 steals, 1.6 blocks) will actually translate. But, basketball I.Q. and old-fashioned hustle are marks in Flip's favor. He's a clever, hard-working college star with a skill set that is easy to scale and adjust based on team need.

1. Jared McCain is an elite shooter and a budding playmaker

Jared McCain has been setting nets on fire all season for the Blue Devils. He's shooting 39.9 percent from deep on 5.6 attempts, showcasing elite range and versatility launching off the bounce. He will frequently lose his man on a screen and elevate into a deep 3. Combined with his ability to get downhill and create off drives, that is a skill NBA front offices will value extensively.

McCain hasn't always had free rein of the Duke offense, but he processes the game at a high level and looks comfortable setting the table. He's a highly reactive passer, capable of taking what the defense gives him and delivering high-level passes under duress. There are valid concerns about McCain's lack of size and burst, but at 6-foot-3, he's an incredibly efficient scorer around the basket thanks to a killer floater.

How much can NBA teams trust McCain to create advantages and run the offense? That is the question scouts hope to answer once and for all in March Madness. McCain will still be surrounded by Duke's litany of guards, and frankly, his next team should probably prioritize putting another viable playmaker next to McCain. But, elite 3-point shooters who can create out of pick-and-rolls, score competently inside the arc, and defend their position tend to hold value in the league.

Next. Pairing every NBA team with 1 ideal March Madness prospect. Pairing every NBA team with 1 ideal March Madness prospect. dark