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Basketball Recruiting

NBA Draft 2024: Steals of Round 1

June 27, 2024

The 2024 draft kicked off last night at the Barclays Center in what was presumed to be one of the most underwhelming drafts to date.

I'm afraid I have to disagree.

This is a draft class I’ve had the privilege of covering since most of these kids were just freshmen or sophomores in high school. 

Whether it’s watching Donovan Clingan [No.7 overall pick, Portland], put up 30 points and 20 rebounds his sophomore year, or watching a guy like Jaylon Tyson go from three-star to five-star to 20th pick of the draft by Cleveland.

So, who are this year’s current draft steals for me?

Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor

Walter was viewed as a lottery pick for most of the 2023-24 season. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard who averaged nearly 15 points per game for the Bears this past season. In addition, he connected on 37% of his shots from the field and 34% from three.

That is the risk/reward the Raptors are taking, but with a smooth shooting stroke and guys who will space the floor and allow for more open looks, I believe Walter’s efficiency and numbers will grow once he enters the league.


Another plus for Walter is his size and his physicality. Growing up a football player can be among the reasons for Walter’s physical game, which has now paid off for him as he looks to leave his mark in the NBA.

The now former Baylor star was mocked by nearly every outlet to be off the board by the latest, the 13th pick. I think getting him at No. 19 is amazing value, and I think he’s going to be one of those players that can make an immediate impact from day one, joining a young nucleus that includes Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, and Gradey Dick, amongst others.

Jaylon Tyson, Cal

Cleveland made an absolute splash for the franchise yesterday, hiring its coach, Kenny Atkinson, and selecting a player of Jaylon Tyson’s caliber. I reported early yesterday morning that there was buzz that the Cal star could jump draft boards after being mocked as late as 37th in the second round.

Being commended for his toughness and NBA-ready frame, in addition to his ability to create space at his size along with the combination of scoring, Cleveland believes they’ve made a splash with the 20th overall selection.

Tyson had a spectacular year for Cal, averaging 19.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He was selected as an All-Pac 12 first-teamer, and his transfer to Cal is now paying off as he saw himself off the board in the first round.

This is a selection I think we will look back on in years, and for the right reasons only: it was a great selection by Cleveland.

Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois

This is an obvious one. Minnesota is a team that was a step away from an NBA finals berth this past season, and they got even better on night one of the draft. They started the night trading future draft capital for Rob Dillingham at the No. 8 spot and ended the night with a splash.

They chose Terrence Shannon Jr. with the 27th overall pick. A guy who all season I, among many others, viewed as one of the best players in the entire country and a guy who’d likely be a lottery selection despite facing the unfortunate setback he faced.

In 31 games this season, Shannon Jr. averaged 23 points and four boards per game. He’s a super explosive wing who can also defend and run the floor with an extremely high motor. I was at Shannon Jr.’s 33-point game against FAU this past season, and he flourished on both ends of the floor.

I think getting a guy of this caliber to end the first round is a splash in itself. Props to Minnesota for making the right pick with the former Illinois star, who can be an impactful scorer off the bench in year one.

There were plenty of other picks I loved on night one, including the Devin Carter selection, Bub Carrington jumping to No. 14, and plenty of others. With day two around the corner, here are some guys still available on the board that I believe will impact whatever franchises they ultimately land with.

Johnny Furphy, Kyle Filipowski, Tristen Newton, Harrison Ingram, Oso Ighodaro, Tyler Kolek, Cam Christie, Jonathan Mogbo, Bobi Klintman.

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