The Draft Digest team descended on Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center in Waco for a closer look at the wealth of future NBA talent in the Baylor and Arkansas rosters. In a tight contest, Baylor prevailed and won by 67-64 points.
It’s worth noting that Nick Smith Jr. and Trevon Brazile missed this game for Arkansas through injury, but both will be in the NBA as early as next season. Smith Jr. has a lottery advantage as a microwave goalscorer and Brazile could be taken early in the second round of the 2023 NBA draft, though he’s currently recovering from an ACL injury.
Even if those two sat out this time, there were still more players who had a great chance in the NBA than one could count on one hand.
Let’s take a look at each team’s top three draft prospects and our notes on them.
Granted, this wasn’t the best game to scout Black. He suffered a knee injury in the opening minutes of the game and never looked like himself for the rest of the game.
Even so, all the things that make black special were still on display. You can easily see the rebounding top of the jumbo protection and the incredible vision. While playing somewhat methodically at times, he also flashed some pop, most notably on a contested dunk from a back cut.
Black really fought pain throughout the game. It was a physical competition as he was hit many times and got up slowly a few times. He finished with seven points, six boards and three assists.
Ricky Rat IV
Where would Arkansas be this season without Council? With all the injuries, he really kept this team afloat as he was one of the top scorers in the entire SEC.
There are still some questions about the mechanics of his knight, specifically his base and the amount of movement at the top of his shot. However, Rat is still a decent shooter and has plenty of other ways to generate points.
Simply put, he’s bigger and stronger than almost every other Guardian he’s faced this season. A walking mismatch at the college level, the 6-foot-6 contender also has a variety of advanced moves to break away from defenders.
He is extremely accurate and efficient with his dribbling moves and has sneaky speed for a physical player type. Once he reaches the edge, he finishes with a ton of force.
If it weren’t for his age, the sophomore would really be a solid first pick. Council finished the game with 25 points at the highest level of play, including a 50% clip from beyond the arc.
Given his role on this Arkansas team, it’s been difficult to gauge Walsh this season. Now that I see him in person, it’s even clearer that he’s definitely worth a late first-round pick. He’s an incredible size and length that should translate to NBA levels at both ends.
Walsh moves very well off the ball, making smart cuts and finding his spots on offense. He is the ultimate link and complementary element that keeps an offensive going.
Defensively, he defended almost every position against Baylor on Saturday. While he fouled, the work he did specifically on Keyonte George was impressive. Walsh ended the game with two blocks and a steal.
As soon as I entered the gym, it was clear that it belonged to George. If you had never seen Baylor play and were unaware that the team was warming up before the game, you would still be able to tell immediately that he was the alpha of the group.
Starting on defense, some of George’s early reads were very impressive. He made smart substitutions, making sure he was in the right spots off the ball. As the game went on and fatigue set in there were certainly times when he wasn’t as crisp on that end of the floor, but overall Saturday’s defense was impressive.
At the other end of the floor, George ended up having a decent night shooting the ball. However, more than a quarter of his shots were borderline bad-looking. While some of those extremely difficult shots were coming in, you’d love to see him find ways to create simpler looks. Several times he had to double-cling a jumper or shoot it directly in the face with his hand.
George scored seven straight points late in the game to help the Bears get on top, proving he’s a Lottery talent. He finished the game with 24 points despite needing 20 shots to get there.
Bridges was his best exchange on Saturday and proved to be a good rim runner. Overall, he’s just an extremely active player at both sides, doing the little things to influence the win.
Shooting contact for a man his size is impressive so it was great to see how well he moves around the perimeter. He moves along the 3-point line while his teammates drive to make sure they have the best angle for a kickout on him.
Between the sleek sweater and the length, it’s easy to see why Bridges has a chance to make the second round this summer. He could absolutely thrive as a screener in the NBA with his ability to pick and roll as a lob threat or pop as a perimeter shooter.
The thing that stood out most about Bridges was lateral quickness. On possession in particular, Council tried various dribbling moves to get past him, but Bridges cut every angle and stayed in front of him with great foot speed.
The 6-foot-7 forward finished the night with ten points and seven rebounds.
He’s not the elite size some of these other top prospects are, but he’s explosive and has the cunning to take on anyone. At 6-foot-3, Flagler is a great scorer, although he really struggled on Saturday.
On the defensive, he causes chaos with immense physical and physical effort. Still, I’m curious to see how he’ll look when he has to defend larger guards every night at the next level.
In one of his worst games of the season in terms of efficiency, Flagler finished with five points on 1-of-11 shooting. Did Arkansas’ NBA greatness bother him, or was it just a single underperforming that should be taken lightly?
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