NBA Draft: 10 college basketball freshmen to watch entering 2023-24 season

With the college basketball season about to start, here are the best freshman to watch from an NBA Draft perspective.

Bronny James, USC Trojans
Bronny James, USC Trojans / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages
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Ja'Kobe Walter. 4. 460. 4. . player. Ja'Kobe Walter. No. 7, FanSided Draft Board. Guard. Baylor

Ja'Kobe Walter faces a potential minutes crunch at Baylor, but he has the talent to pop anyway. At 6-foot-5, he's a strong and bursty athlete with the shot-making chops to wow NBA scouts. Walter operates with extreme poise and confidence. That can sometimes be to his detriment — shot selection is the glaring red flag of his draft cycle — but for the most part, Walter impresses with smooth pull-up jumpers and passing flashes.

He won't spend much time as the sole on-ball creator at Baylor, but Walter shows the ability to manipulate defenders with changes in speed. He has a nice package of moves to generate space, deploying side-steps and step-backs before elevating into a pretty pull-up. He makes some impressive playmaking reads as well and there's serious slashing upside tied to his burst and strength.

If Walter can get more comfortable working out of pick-and-rolls and running the show as a primary ball-handler, teams will line up around the block. As of now, he profiles more as an off-guard who can heat up quickly and wreak havoc attacking off the catch.

Connecticut. player. Stephon Castle. 3. No. 6, FanSided Draft Board. Guard. 3. 2330. . Stephon Castle

With Jordan Hawkins departing for the NBA, a sizable role opens up in the UConn backcourt for freshman Stephon Castle. He's a different kind of two-guard — Hawkins mastered movement shooting, while Castle operates more in the combo guard vein — but he is well positioned for success on a competitive Huskies team.

At 6-foot-6, Castle's positional size is the initial draw for NBA teams. He's built strong, and he deploys that strength with extreme effectiveness on finishes at the rim. He isn't the twitchiest guard athlete in the lottery conversation, but Castle understands how to play with pace. He breaks out concise hesitations and crossovers, shifting gears to keep defenders off balance and open up lanes to the rim. His passing feel, combined with a silky 3-point shot, is the cherry on top.

What positions Castle as a genuine No. 1 pick underdog, however, is the defense. He's tuned-in to that side of the ball, making excellent use of his physical tools and constantly eviscerating passing lanes with his activity level.