UConn men’s basketball is having a great season thus far, but even during the preseason, multiple Huskies were on the NBA Draft radar. Now that the Huskies are 16 games in, those players are continuing to show their stuff, with three of Dan Hurley’s players listed on multiple NBA Draft lists.
Two players for UConn seem to be consensus first-round picks: center Donovan Clingan and guard Stephon Castle. Forward Alex Karaban is being projected in the second round, but could work his way up the draft conversation as well, the way some of his teammates did after the Huskies’ championship run last year.
The last time the Huskies had three or more players drafted in a class was in 2006 (Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Denham Brown).
We looked at four different mocks to see where the Huskies are expected to land:
ESPN+ - January 11th, 2024
Bleacher Report - January 5th, 2024
Yahoo Sports - December 18th, 2023
Yardbreaker - January 11th, 2024
ESPN: No. 13 to New Orleans Pelicans
Bleacher Report: No. 15 to Oklahoma City Thunder - “A foot strain cost Donovan Clingan a month back in September, and now he’s out another three to four weeks with a foot injury suffered against Seton Hall. It’s going to generate some discussion on durability, particularly given the amount of weight (280 lbs) he carries around. When healthy, he changes games on defense with his height, strength, mobility and anticipation. And that’s what NBA teams will be coveting, along with his ability to pick up easy finishes and putbacks.”
Yahoo Sports: No. 11 to Portland Trail Blazers - “The thing that stands out most when watching Clingan in person is just how big he is and how well he moves for his size. Clingan has not yet reached his full potential, still coming back from a preseason injury, but he’s made his presence known in the lane every time he hits the court. He’s so good at establishing position and if he gets two feet in the lane, it’s an automatic two points. Clingan is a solid passer out of the double-team, finding teammates drifting down for corner 3s, and is averaging under one turnover per game. After coming off the bench last season, Clingan is one of the most dominating centers in college hoops this season, averaging 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.”
Yardbreaker: No. 11 to Oklahoma City Thunder - “Donovan Clingan is a literal giant, standing at 7-foot-2 and weighing 265 pounds. And unlike a lot of big men that size, Clingan moves his feet very well and has very good hands - enabling him to run the court for easy fast break dunks and layups. While he’ll have some trouble on the perimeter against the NBA’s best guards, he’ll have a massive impact around the basket and on the boards. He also has pretty solid vision and passing skills for a big man, so expect him to be a mid-to-late lottery pick and play a Walker Kessler-type of role for whichever team selects him. He’d be a perfect fit to play 20-25 minutes alongside Chet Holmgren.”
ESPN: No. 15 to New York Knicks
Bleacher Report: No. 16 to Orlando Magic - “An early-season injury and a talented, deep Connecticut rotation have affected Stephon Castle’s ability to build any rhythm. Given his role in just 20.9 minutes, scouts will have to put more stock into the flashes and the potential valuable archetype they could create for the 6’6”, 215-pound point wing. Per 40 minutes, he’s averaging 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals, his passing and defense have been the strengths that have separated him most from others at his position. However, poor shooting (1-of-9 3PT) and bad misses do figure to hold Castle back from generating interest from most teams in the top 10.”
Yahoo sports: No. 6 to Charlotte Hornets - “Castle is only three games back after missing several weeks with a minor knee surgery. He has yet to reach full strength but is already making a huge impact defensively for the Huskies. Castle can defend every position on the perimeter and even in mismatch situations against forwards, he has the strength to hold his own. Offensively, his touches have been limited with all the offensive talent on the court with Tristen Newton (16.3 points, six assists per game) and Donovan Clingan (another projected lottery pick). Castle has great size and is strong when getting downhill and finishing at the rim. He’s averaging nine points, 4.2 rebounds and three assists per game. As he continues to get stronger and his minutes increase, his productivity and consistency should follow.”
Yardbreaker: No. 7 to Chicago Bulls - “I fully expect the Bulls roster to look much different by the 2024 NBA Draft. Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso will probably all be on different teams, so Chicago will be drafting entirely for talent instead of fit. UConn’s stud freshman guard, Stephon Castle, has some of the highest upside in this draft with his slithery playmaking and versatility. Though he’s been slowed by an injury this season, his game reminds me of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s when he was in Kentucky. Like SGA, he might be the type of prospect that shocks everyone the more his team puts the ball in his hands.”
ESPN: No. 49 to Indiana Pacers
Bleacher Report: No. 44 to Washington Wizards - “Shotmaking at 6’8”, 220 lbs should get Alex Karaban drafted, though he’s also been an effective cutter and plus defender.
Despite offering minimal creation or athletic ability, he checks the right boxes for an NBA stretch 4 with his size, shooting and foot speed to guard away from the basket.”
Yahoo Sports: N/A (Only a first-round mock draft)
Yardbreaker: No. 28 to Milwaukee Bucks - “The unassuming stretch forward from UConn was a major contributor in the Huskies championship run last season, averaging 9.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG and shooting 40.2 percent from three. While he’s mired in a bit of a slump at the moment, the 6-foot-9 forward’s game is clearly more advanced than it was a year ago and has the type of sweet shot that should translate well to the pro game. Never a bad idea to surround Giannis with shooting.”