3 Duke NBA prospects who can rise or fall in the ACC Tournament

Duke doesn't have the elite one-and-done prospects this season, but could have one of the best freshmen in the country in Jared McCain, who could greatly boost his draft stock in March.

Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0)
Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

As far as producing elite NBA talent, Jon Scheyer isn’t quite Coach K, at least not yet. In 2023, two former Blue Devils, Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead were selected in the first round, but neither in the top 10 and it’s almost a certainty that Duke won’t produce a top-10 prospect this year either. 

However, there are two pieces of good news for Scheyer and Duke. First, there are still the ACC and NCAA Tournaments for the top players on this year's team to boost their draft stock. Second, Cooper Flagg is on his way. 

Flagg will almost certainly be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NBA Draft after just one season at Duke, but for now, we’ll look at the draft stock of Tyrese Proctor, Kyle Filipowski, and Jared McCain. 

The ACC Tournament will begin for Duke on Thursday, March 14 in the quarterfinals and it's shaping up as a collision course between Duke and UNC, who beat the Blue Devils at Cameron in Saturday's regular-season finale, 84-79.

. Sophomore. Tyrese Proctor, G. Tyrese Proctor, G. 434. Tyrese Proctor. 6'0" 183 lbs. . 3. player

Proctor was one of five five-star freshmen that Scheyer brought to Durham in his 2022 recruiting class, one that Coach K had a large hand in. From that class, Lively and Whitehead have already gone pro, while Filipowski, Mark Mitchell, and Proctor returned to Duke for their sophomore seasons. 

Proctor is the lead distributor on Scheyer’s guard-heavy roster, averaging 3.7 assists and often operating as the primary initiator. Though throughout the year, McCain, a freshman, has largely usurped Proctor as the team’s closer. Still, the 6-foot-5 playmaker has great utility and will be even more crucial in March. 

While Proctor lacks the athleticism that would vault him into the first round of the NBA draft, his combination of size, ball-handling, and shooting will make him an intriguing secondary initiator for bench units in the league. If teams believe that Proctor’s 46/37/76 shooting splits will translate, and he shoots well in March, then he’s worth a second-round pick, but that may not be enough to entice him to leave Duke and what is surely a healthy NIL payday. 

7"0" 230 lbs. Kyle Filipowski, C. Sophomore. Kyle Filipowski, C. player. . 2. Kyle Filipowski. . 434

Heading into the ACC Tournament and what Duke hopes will be a long March Madness run, Filipowski is regularly mocked around pick No. 20 in the 2024 NBA Draft, however, a skilled 7-footer like the 20-year-old sophomore could be a volatile commodity as far as NBA evaluators are concerned. 

Teams will be able to rely on Filipowski’s playmaking and ball movement as a perimeter big-man with the ability to punish smaller players in the post. The swing skill for Filipowski will be the three-point shot and this season he’s taking 3.3 a game and hitting at a 35.3% clip. That’s an improvement from 28.2% last year on 3.4 attempts and force opponents into smaller lineups to counter. 

The reason that Filipowski returned to Duke for Year 2 was a lack of elite athleticism, a concern that hasn’t dissipated after putting 31 more games on film. He can struggle to finish at the rim against athletic bigs, making his outside shot that much more crucial. So if he shoots 40% from three this month, he could soar into the late lottery, but if he goes cold, then he could fall out of the first round and return to Duke for his junior season. It wasn't a good sign that UNC sagged off him this past defensively and he didn't punish the Tar Heels (2-6 from three).

6'3" 195 lbs. Jared McCain. . . 434. Jared McCain, G. Jared McCain, G. 1. player. Freshman

On a talented Duke roster, the multi-talented 20-year-old freshman Jared McCain is the best shotmaker of the bunch, knocking down 40.6% of his 5.6 three-point attempts per game. McCain can shoot off movement, off the catch, and off the dribble. 

The problem is a consistent one for Duke players, he lacks an elite first step, which could make it hard to get to the rim and once he’s around the rim, he doesn’t have the vertical explosiveness to finish over NBA bigs. McCain will be a one-and-done first-rounder because shooting is just so valuable, especially to teams with movement-based offenses which would allow McCain to run off handoffs and knock down open looks. 

At this point, NBA evaluators are going to feel confident in McCain’s shooting stroke, but to raise his draft stock, McCain will need to show some vertical pop in March and shoot better than 58.1% on just 4.3 attempts from two.

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