3 best NBA Draft prospects Clippers must watch in 2023 NCAA Tournament

It is that time of the year for college basketball fans. The 2023 NCAA Tournament kicks off on Tuesday with the First Four. NBA franchises will observe some of the best young players in the country and will have the chance to make some final notes before the 2023 draft. Contending teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers could be in search of players who can help their quest to win a title soon.

So far, the Clippers are 36-33 and have the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. If the season ended now, they would have the last spot in the playoffs without the need for the Play-In Tournament.

Based on the current standings, Los Angeles would have the final pick of the first round thanks to multiple trades. Since this would be a low pick, the Clippers might miss out on some of the top prospects. Also, it should be more difficult to find a game-changing piece. Still, they might have luck and get a solid player at No. 30.

With that being said, here are the top best NBA Draft prospects for the Clippers to watch in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

3. Noah Clowney, PF – Alabama

While most of the attention in Alabama is going to potential top-three pick Brandon Miller, there is another Crimson Tide who deserves some recognition. Noah Clowney could end up being a first-round selection depending on how he does in March.

The power forward is averaging 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and just under an assist a night. He is also blocking one shot per game. He is making 49.6% of his field goals, 28.2% of his 3-pointers, and 64.4% of his free throws.

With his help, Alabama had a 29-5 record and won the SEC tournament. In the conference championship game, Clowney had 19 points while going 7-for-11 from the field and hitting three 3-pointers. Both marks were some of the personal best of his freshman season.

At the age of 18, Clowney is still very young and might need some extra time to be fully ready for the NBA. If the Clippers are satisfied with their players, they could add the power forward and choose to develop him for a year or two before inserting him into the rotation.

The No. 1 Crimson Tide will wait until the First Four to know who it will face between No. 16 SE Missouri State and No. 16 Texas A&M CC. Alabama will then play its first-round NCAA Tournament matchup on Thursday.

2. Kyle Filipowski, PF/C – Duke

Another player that the Clippers should keep an eye on is Kyle Filipowski. The power forward/center was a consensus five-star recruit and one of the top players in the 2022 recruiting class before committing to Duke.

This season, he is putting up 15.4 points, 9.0 boards, and 1.6 assists plus 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks. He is shooting 44.6% from the field, 29.7% from beyond the arc, and 77.4% from the charity stripe.

For his performances, Filipowski won ACC Rookie of the Year and earned a spot in the Second-team All-ACC. Notably, he won the ACC tournament MVP as the Blue Devils took home the title despite finishing fourth in the regular season.

Without a clear big man under contract for the Clippers other than Ivica Zubac following this season, Filipowski could have some playing time as a rookie. While he will be turning 20 in November, his freshman season at Duke showed that he could be ready to contribute right away.

The No. 5 Blue Devils will start their journey for a sixth national title on Thursday versus No. 12 Oral Roberts in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament.

1. Colby Jones, G – Xavier

Perhaps one of the biggest needs for the Clippers beyond this season is at guard. Russell Westbrook joined the squad after a buyout with the Utah Jazz but there is still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen in the offseason. Because of that, Los Angeles could have Colby Jones on its radar.

The guard out of Xavier is recording 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. He is also registering 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. He is hitting 51.9% of his field-goal attempts, 38.2% of his 3-point shots and 67% of his free throws.

In his third year in college, Jones earned a Second-team All-Big East nod. With him, the Musketeers made it all the way to the Big East Championship Game where they would eventually lose to Marquette.

If the Clippers select him, he could be a starter as a rookie. Since he can play in both guard positions, he could become a valuable young piece for a contender. Additionally, because he played three seasons in college, he is likely more prepared than other prospects in the class.

The No. 3 Musketeers will face No. 14 Kennesaw State in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Friday. They will try to advance past the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.

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