Around this time last year, the No. 1 and No. 2 projected NBA prospects in our first NBA Mock Draft of the 2022 cycle were Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren – the same prospects who indeed in 2022 went No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. So while it may feel early for a stab at prospect rankings for the 2023 NBA Draft, which is still nine months away, the truth is that by and large, projecting months and even years out in basketball can be instructive even if it could and likely will change over the course of the next year.

The 2023 draft class, in particular at the top, feels especially locked in even at such an early stage. The class is unique in that, though there are plenty of college prospects projected in the lottery, the top of our board -- seen as very, very strong -- consists of non-college talents playing professionally in leagues ranging from the G League Ignite to Overtime Elite to the highest levels of hoops in France – where of course No. 1 prospect Victor Wembanyama is developing a reputation as the clear alpha in a loaded class. It's not hyperbole to suggest it could be a norm-shattering class; the top three in our first rankings are all non-college prospects. It has been more than two decades (in 2001, dating back to the preps-to-pro era) since the top three of a draft hasn't included at least one college product. 

Yet that is how things look right now. Wembanyama, a French wunderkind who is 7-foot-4, is the No. 1 atop our board followed closely by G League Ignite star Scoot Henderson is No. 2, but that ranking is almost the same as a "1B" spot. Twin brothers Amen and Ausar Thompson from Overtime Elite are both in the top five in our first run. And the only college player to crack the top five is Arkansas-bound standout Nick Smith, a combo guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, who finished as the top player in his recruiting class and sits at No. 4 on the first board.

The college class for next year remains strong and very intriguing even if the non-college prospects will get the shine. Smith seems to be the cream of the crop in a class that includes rising Villanova enrollee Cameron Whitmore, who had a tremendous summer, as well as Duke-bound Dariq Whitehead and Kentucky-bound Cason Wallace.

But who else cracked the first CBS Sports Big Board of the 2023 NBA Draft season? Here's a look at some highlighted players I'm excited about followed by the full first run of rankings for the Top 30 Prospect Rankings.     

Victor Wembanyama | C | International

Big Board rank: 1

A switch from ASVEL to Metropolitans 92 in the LNB Pro A for Wembanyama has been a fruitful transition thus far for the 7-foot-4 unicorn. He has clearly been the team's focal point on both ends and is playing with more confidence than ever on offense in particular, where his lengthy wingspan and inside-out game have allowed him to flourish. As expected, his long, wiry arms have been a problem for teams around the rim; he is swatting just about everything within his zone and remains the best shot-blocking talent not currently in the NBA. But his shot-creation and fluidity, long his most underrated and impressive projectable traits, appear to me to really be blossoming.

For Wembanyama, health may be the only thing that could keep him from going No. 1 – and even shaky health may not be enough to dissuade teams. He's a generational prospect who can shoot it from deep, create on the perimeter, and oh, by the way: he can defend inside and out. The string of injuries the last year are something to monitor – a back injury, a shoulder injury, and a finger injury have all popped up in the last year and caused him to miss time – but the early race for No. 1 right now is clearly starting with Wembanyama. 

Scoot Henderson | PG | G League Ignite

Big Board rank: 2

As a 17-year-old last season (he turned 18 in February 2022), Henderson posted a 58% true shooting percentage while averaging 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game playing in the G League Ignite. The former five-star recruit producing in such a way as such a young player is really impressive, and especially the way in which he did it, too. He's a crafty guard who can control the pace, unraveling slow and methodical breakdowns on the perimeter on one hand yet having the burst and blow-by ability to scoot past defenders as well. The only real concern here is his 3-point shooting numbers – he hit 17.4% on just over two attempts per game – but the smarts, speed and scoring combination is enough to bet on. He should be in the early conversation as the potential No. 1 pick.

Nick Smith | SG | Arkansas

Big Board rank: 4

The all-around game of Smith is what I love about his prospects. Great size, good length, aggressive scorer, willing creator, active defender. Does a little of everything. The way he moves is just different. He doesn't wow with explosiveness but his long strides and functional athleticism have helped him win and produce at a high rate in high school; he finished as the No. 1 recruit in his class after at one point being ranked in the 50s. His scoring appeal and combo guard skills make him one of the more intriguing prospects to track this year, and guard-friendly Arkansas playing next to Anthony Black should do him well.

Keyonte George | SG | Baylor

Big Board rank: 10

The combination of talent, scoring ability and moxie bottled into the body of George makes the Baylor product easily one of the most tantalizing talents to track in this year's draft-eligible class. He's a dynamic scorer who is going to have boom nights on the board for the Bears because of his scoring ability inside and out. (This summer, for instance, he dropped a casual 37 point banger on a Canadian team that is loaded with talent.) How he looks as a creator and decision-maker may dictate whether he goes late lottery or, say, top five, but he's a top-10 guy for me entering the season because of his translatable talents as a bucket-getter.

2023 NBA Draft Big Board Top 30

1Victor WembanyamaMetropolitans 92
2Scoot HendersonG League Ignite
3Ausar ThompsonOvertime Elite
4Nick SmithArkansasFr.SG6-5185
5Amen ThompsonOvertime Elite
6Cameron WhitmoreVillanovaFr.SF6-7232
7Cason WallaceKentuckyFr.PG6-4193
8Dariq WhiteheadDukeFr.SF6-6190
9Anthony BlackArkansasFr.PG6-7198
10Keyonte GeorgeBaylorFr.SG6-4185
11Dillon MitchellTexasFr. SF6-8205
12Dereck Lively IIDukeFr.C7-1215
13Arthur KalumaCreightonSoph.SF6-7225
14Leonard MillerG League Ignite
15Kel'el WareOregonFr.C7-0210
16Terquavion SmithNC StateSo.SG6-4165
17Julian StrawtherGonzagaJr.SG6-7205
18Jarace WalkerHoustonFr.PF6-8235
19Jordan WalshArkansasFr.SF6-7205
20Kris MurrayIowaJr.PF6-8225
21Chris LivingstonKentuckyFr. SF6-6220
22Marcus SasserHoustonSr.SG6-2195
23Julian PhillipsTennesseeFr.SF6-8190
24Amari BaileyUCLAFr.SG6-5185
25JJ StarlingNotre DameFr.SG6-4200
26Kyle FilipowskiDukeFr.C6-11220
27Gradey DickKansasFr.SF6-8205
28Harrison IngramStanfordSo.SF6-7230
29Nolan HickmanGonzagaSo.PG6-2180
30Matthew ClevelandFlorida StateSo.SG6-7200