NBA Draft 2022: Ex-scout reveals who he thinks is the best prospect, comparing him to Ja Morant

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Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball against the Texas Longhorns during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men

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The 2022 NBA draft is just a day away and the options for the top pick at this year’s event are still up in the air.

Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Duke’s Paolo Banchero are all among those who could potentially finish first overall when the Orlando Magic clocks Thursday.

A former NBA scout believes Purdue standout Jaden Ivey is the pick of the bunch.

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“I think the guy I would pick No. 1 is Jaden Ivey,” said Michael Vandegarde, who was a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers for 18 years, in a recent interview with Fox News Digital.

Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball against the Texas Longhorns during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at the Fiserv Forum on March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball against the Texas Longhorns during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament held at the Fiserv Forum on March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
(Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“Jaden Ivey is everything (Memphis Grizzlies guard) Ja Morant is and was the same age except he’s taller, taller and maybe even more athletic and Ja Morant is a freak. I’ll tell you Jaden Ivey… and he’s done a lot better this year. He dramatically improved every aspect of this game. He’s by far the closest thing to Russell Westbrook or Ja Morant I’ve ever seen. I absolutely love him.

“I would consider him number 1 and would be happy to take him, obviously in the top five, but if I was staring at number 1 I would absolutely 100% consider him. And if I had to choose today, I would say Jaden Ivey. If I stare at (No.) 2 or 3, he might be selected there. I wouldn’t be shocked if (the Oklahoma City Thunder) took him to two. I just think no matter where you get (him), you get a chance to have the absolute best player on both ends of the floor, and he’s the most dynamic athlete in this draft bar.

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Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during the second half of game three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs at the Chase Center on May 7, 2022 in San Francisco, California.

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during the second half of game three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs at the Chase Center on May 7, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
(Thearon W Henderson/Getty Images)

Ivey was a consensus All-American second-team and All-Big Ten Conference first-team after his sophomore season with the Boilermakers 2022. He played in 36 games and averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists before deciding to turn pro.

Holmgren, Smith, and Banchero also had solid careers for their respective schools.

7-footer Holmgren was the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year for 2022, averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. He is rated at the top of some mock drafts.

Smith was named a Wayman Tisdale Award winner for being the Outstanding Men’s Basketball Player of 2022. He ended his lonely year at Auburn averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates with assistant coach Terry Johnson after defeating the Texas Longhorns 81-71 in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Fiserv Forum on March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates with assistant coach Terry Johnson after defeating the Texas Longhorns 81-71 in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Fiserv Forum on March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Banchero was the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year. He averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for Duke

Vandegarde added he thinks Shaedon Sharpe could develop into a formidable NBA player. He was a five-star shooting guard when he graduated early to play for Kentucky. However, he did not play a game for the Wildcats and decided to turn pro.

“There are some really high-profile guys,” he told Fox News Digital. “I would even go to Shaedon Sharpe. I’ve seen him for the last three years. He’s a bit of a joker him, he was the closet thing I saw Kobe Bryant, I saw as a junior in high school. I absolutely love him. (But) there are some big question marks. We haven’t seen a game at the highest level, but I absolutely love this kid.”

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As a potential underdog pick, Vandegarde mentioned Caleb Houston as a potential solid pick later in the first round. He played in 34 games as a freshman at Michigan, averaging 10.1 points and 4 rebounds per game.

“Not a top athlete,” Vandegarde said of Houston, “but he was a top marksman in high school for many years. He might not have had an elite season in Michigan, but sometimes some of these guys who were great in high school turned out to be much better players.”

Shaedon Sharpe #21 of the Kentucky Wildcats watches at halftime against the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena on February 12, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Shaedon Sharpe #21 of the Kentucky Wildcats watches at halftime against the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena on February 12, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky.
(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The draft is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the Nets. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN.

While Vandegarde has been out of basketball for a while, he has joined the handful of former coaches who have joined CoachTube. The digital platform offers online sports coaching and training from experts in their respective fields.

Vandegarde told Fox News Digital he’s had a lot of good feedback from those who use it.

“It was wonderful. I think the coaches really like getting their name out there. Obviously the world has changed in the last eight to ten years. You used to have to sell videos on the shelves at Walmart, and now it’s all moved into a digital age and the feedback has been wonderful,” he said.

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“I think for someone living in a certain part of the world, or even a certain part of the United States, you don’t have access to the elite-level fitness facilities and training. And CoachTube really fits in that gap, I think.”

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