The Champions Classic serves as an annual introduction for fans and some NBA executives to the next line of elite prospects competing at college basketball's most prestigious blue bloods. Few will forget Zion Williamson's 28-point, seven-rebound performance in just 23 minutes in Duke's 2018 blowout win over Kentucky or guard Grayson Allen exploding for 37 points in 2017 as the Blue Devils beat Michigan State.
The event can also be fools gold for scouting, too -- as fluky hot shooting (Quentin Grimes for Kansas in 2018) or savvy veteran experience (MSU's Keith Appling's near triple-double in 2013) can create false impressions that eventually fade. Sometimes those narratives last -- Jabari Parker backed up his No. 1 pick hype by starting his season off with a bang (27 points, nine rebounds in the 2013 Champions Classic) and rode that momentum all year, while Kentucky's Kevin Knox was the best player on the floor in 2017. Both players' NBA careers ended up fizzling out in disappointing fashion despite hot starts to their college careers.
It's important to take the Champions Classic with a grain of salt and not overreact to what we saw on one of college basketball's biggest platforms with more than 100 NBA scouts and executives in the building.
For the first time this season, we're debuting our top-100 prospects tool which includes detailed scouting observations on most players dating back to 2018. See how our thoughts have evolved over time, and keep checking back as we'll continue to populate blurbs for all of the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class as new players inevitably emerge. This tool can be found in the "best available" tab in the ESPN NBA draft section.
Here's what we learned on Tuesday night: