San Antonio Spurs Draft

Spurs 2023 NBA Draft: top college returners to watch

Marcus Sasser - Houston v Oregon
Marcus Sasser - Houston v Oregon / David Becker/GettyImages
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2023 NBA Draft prospects: top returning bigs

I generally like to start these lists with guards, but (spoiler) when it comes to returning college players, they're the group I'm by far the most excited about coming into this season. So instead, we're going to start with this season's bigs, whom I'm a bit lower on in comparison.

When investigating this season's returning big men, I primarily looked for players with rim protection and shooting upside. Jeremy Sochan will ideally be a long-term piece of the Spurs' frontcourt, but to maximize his potential on defense, he should ideally be able to slide out to the perimeter to defend at the point of attack, meaning a good interior rim protector--and particularly one that can shoot--would complement him well. Bigs that are also versatile athletes received some bonus points, especially if they can switch a bit on screens.

Honorable mention: Coleman Hawkins - Illinois

Coleman Hawkins isn't exactly known for his defense and especially not for his rim protection, only recording 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes this past season, but he played some impressive defense against Keegan Murray (holding him to 6 points on 2/13 shooting) and was pivotal on that end in preventing an upset loss to Chatanooga in the NCAA Tournament.

At 6'10" and roughly 225 pounds, Hawkins runs the open floor well, displays a bit of shooting upside, and averaged well over a double double in the games where he played 30 minutes or more. With Kofi Cockburn having moved on to the NBA, Hawkins will have the opportunity to play a much bigger role for the Fighting Illini. If he continues to play aggressive defense and the shooting comes around a bit more, he has late 1st round upside.

Other bigs we'll be monitoring:

Daimion Collins - Kentucky

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield - Louisville

Bryce Hopkins - Providence

Oscar Tshiebwe - Kentucky