3 NBA Draft prospects who can cement claim for No. 1 pick in March Madness

The top of the 2024 NBA Draft is a complete free-for-all, so March Madness could determine who goes No. 1 overall in June.

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky Wildcats
Reed Sheppard, Kentucky Wildcats / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Kentucky's Reed Sheppard is the classic Best Player Available

Is there a difference between the best player available and the best prospect available? Well, yes, at least by college basketball standards. Reed Sheppard will add another layer to the debate this summer, however, as he is quite clearly the "best" freshman in college basketball, for whatever that's worth. He is also creeping closer and closer to No. 1 on a lot of boards.

Sheppard would be breaking more than a few molds as the No. 1 overall pick. He's an average 6-foot-3 athlete with a net-zero wingspan, who plays almost entirely below the rim. He has not been Kentucky's primary point guard either, profiling most comfortably as a combo guard who can split time on and off the ball. Short, slender off-guards tend to carry limited appeal in today's NBA.

That said, Sheppard has done more than enough at Kentucky to earn this recognition. He's spraying 3s at a historic 52.5 percent clip, keeping defenders in constant fear beyond the arc. While he's not a traditional point guard, Sheppard processes the game at a high level and the Wildcats have gradually placed more responsibility on his plate. These days, Sheppard is regularly driving into the teeth of the defense and whipping passes left or right.

He has pull-up touch and a floater game to offset finishing concerns at the rim. He plays an extremely smart and unselfish brand of basketball. While most teams desire star-power in the No. 1 spot, there is an appeal to Sheppard's surefire winning attributes and his ability to fit within any context. The defensive playmaking is real, too (2.5 steals). He probably won't hold up as well at the point of attack in the NBA, but Sheppard competes hard and possesses razor-sharp instincts.

He is going to put on a show for Kentucky, that much feels like a guarantee. The question is, will teams be able to look past Sheppard's shortcomings to embrace all the brilliant things he can do?