Indiana University has a reputation for breeding NBA talent. Guys like Romeo Langford, OG Anunoby,, Victor Oladipo, and Cody Zeller spring to mind when assessing the NBA landscape for former Hoosier draftees. In this season's draft, it was Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino joining the ranks of the Indiana elite.
In the buildup to the 2023-2024 season, most of the NBA buzz tied to Indiana was centered around program newbies Kel'el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako. The two were both projected as top 20 selections in Bleacher Report's first mock draft of the preseason back in October. A few weeks ago in November, Ware remained in that same range while Mgbako completely slipped off of the board. And in BR's most recent mock draft from December 21st, Ware again found himself in the top 20 (pick 20 to the New York Knicks to be exact) and Mgbako's name was once again excluded from the projections.
As long as Ware can maintain the level of play he has been at early on (nightly averages of 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.3 stocks on 55.1/37.5/72.9 shooting splits), he should be entrenched in first round territory. A center with his rare combination of size, athleticism, agility, poise in the post, and shooting ability from outside is hard to find. He should have plenty of suitors in the mid-late first round range.
Albeit on iffy efficiency, Mgbako has reached double figures in scoring over the course of the team's last 7 games. He was primarily regarded for his versatile scoring ability coming out of high school, so it has been nice to see him slowly turn the corner in that area. If he is going to get himself back into draft discussion, the next step is for him to boost his efficiency. His shots will come, and hitting them consistently will be his ticket back to the talk.
Elsewhere on the roster, the rest of the regular starters have yet to spark any type of serious draft consideration. Malik Reneau has been terrific through 12 games, but his old-school game down low may be a bit outdated in the modern NBA. With that in mind, expanding the limits of his game would do wonders for his potential draft stock. The 6'9", 233 pound power forward has knocked down 6 of his 8 attempts from downtown in the team's last 3 games and now sits at an eye popping 46.7% in terms of outside hit rate for the season. If he can continue to build on that, he could potentially build a better case for himself when the time comes. Other than Reneau, the senior backcourt duo of Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway would not appear to have any type of NBA interest at this time. That could definitely change as time goes on, but at this time the starting frontcourt are the primary 2024 NBA draft candidates for the 2023-2024 Hoosiers.