The college basketball season is off to a rollicking start. The first marquee matchup of the season, No. 12 Arizona at No. 2 Duke, ended in a delicious five-point upset. It's clear the Blue Devils have much work left to do, but on the other hand, it's nice to have the dank, unpolished feel of college basketball back in our lives.
It's far too early to prognosticate about the NBA Draft with any real certainty, but NBA scouting departments are firing on all cylinders now. Over the next few months, prospects will break out or fall apart. It's a wonderful time of year.
Here's how the NBA Draft landscape is shaping up in Week 2 of the college basketball season.
NBA Draft stock up: Isaiah Collier, USC
The real standout of the college season to date — at least from the NBA Draft point of view — is USC freshman Isaiah Collier. The Trojans are 2-0, including an impressive opening night win over Kansas State. With Bronny James sidelined due to a preseason cardiac arrest, all eyeballs are on Collier. He's answering the call.
At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Collier plays with a unique blend of speed and strength for the point guard position. He darts inside with a quick first step and uses his broad shoulders to carve out space on finishes around the rim.
Collier is averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 assists on .650/.400/.900 splits in 29.5 minutes. Obviously, those shooting numbers will eventually decline, but Collier's early success from 3-point range — on a reasonably healthy 2.5 attempts per game — is a positive sign. He's finishing effectively in the paint, pressuring the rim, and making swift passing reads on the move. If the jumper comes around, he is going to have a strong case for the No. 1 pick next June.
NBA Draft stock up: Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor
Ja'Kobe Walter's first collegiate game was a shot of pure adrenaline. He put up 28 points and five rebouds in Baylor's 88-82 opening night victory over Auburn. It was a loud announcement — a strong "I'm here" proclaimation for a player with a very real chance to sneak into the No. 1 conversation as the season progresses.
Baylor is clearly willing to play Walter with various personnel groups. He's already on the shortlist of the most electric shot-makers in college basketball. He operates with an impressive sense of pace, stop-starting to keep defenders off balance and unleashing a wide array of side-steps, step-backs, and pull-ups.
The defense pops too, and he's even flashing as a passer despite the low assist numbers. Keep your eyes on Baylor basketball.
NBA Draft stock up: Kyle Filipowski, Duke
Kyle Filipowski was billed as a one-and-done player last season, but he decided to return to Duke with "unfinished business." The Blue Devils are expected to rank near the top of the CBB standings all season, even after their minor stumble against Arizona last week.
As expected, Filipowski is the star of the show for the Blue Devils. Tyrese Proctor has been a surging name in the preseason and Duke has its usual collection of freshmen phenoms, but Filipowski is the mega-talented returner, and his season is off to the best imaginable start. Across two games, he is averaging 25.0 points and 7.5 rebounds on .625/.571/.857 splits.
Filipowski looks more comfortable and dynamic as a scorer, beating defenders with 3s, drives, post-ups, and a fair amount in between. He will have to prove to NBA teams that he can defend at a high enough level despite his lackluster physical tools, but a 7-footer who can space the floor and fill various roles on offense is bound to catch the attention of NBA scouts (again).