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The NBA draft is a momentous event for the best basketball talent, teams, and fans. It is the annual event where teams select eligible players to join their teams. However, the road to being drafted in the NBA looks significantly different this year than in the past. In the 2023 NBA draft class, four out of the five of the top picks did not follow the traditional NCAA basketball route. International basketball and alternate feeder leagues, such as the NBA G-League and Overtime Elite, are gaining steam with top talent, and now there are several viable ways of making it to the league.


With the San Antonio Spurs’ choice of 7’5” phenom Victor Wembanyama, the 2023 draft marks the first time in 14 years that a college freshman was not selected with the first pick. Wembanyama played professionally in his home country of France, where his stats were as impressive as his stature: He led the league in scoring, rebounding and blocks.

Scoot Henderson, a 6’ 3” explosive guard from the NBA G-league’s Ignite team, was drafted third by the Portland Trail Blazers. Scoot reclassed to finish high school one year early, skipped college and made history as the first player to sign with the Ignite for 2 years. When asked if this unique path prepared him for the NBA, he said, “I think it prepared me tremendously, being able to grow from that first year and then maximizing my second year.”

The Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, 6’7” forwards with guard-like athleticism, were chosen back-to-back in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots by the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons, respectively. The twins also took an unconventional route. They skipped their last year of high school and rather than attending college, they opted to play for two years in the Overtime Elite league. Taking a chance on Overtime Elite the year it launched, they believed that following a less conventional path would best prepare them for the NBA.

The lone NCAA athlete in the top five draftees, Brandon Miller, spent one year at Alabama, where he was named SEC Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. He was drafted second overall, landing with the Charlotte Hornets.

The draft is a major event of excitement and anticipation for basketball, giving teams the chance to gain the elite talent that could have a massive impact on their success. With more pipelines to that talent, basketball will surely continue to evolve. As Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, said in his 2023 draft welcome, “The next wave of NBA players —different paths and different backgrounds brought together by a common dream.”