WASHINGTON (DC News Now) – The second installment of the Washington Wizards’ pre-draft workouts brought out some top recruits in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft.
One of them, expected to go during the lottery is Cason Wallace, the 19-year-old guard out of the University of Kentucky.
Wallace is a Texas native and played one year of college basketball for the Wildcats, and is widely considered one of the best perimeter defenders in this draft class.
“Everybody can score basketball at the highest level,” says Wallace, “but everybody can’t guard and I don’t want that to be my downfall.”
Even though he stands out for his defensive skills, Wallace says that he aims to be a well-rounded player in the league.
“Every team that I talk to, I’m picturing their team, I’m seeing myself on the court how I play, coming in and making an impact immediately. Just being one of the energy guys one of the dogs on the team.”
Working alongside Wallace during the Wizards’ workout, was Nick Smith Jr. – the freshman out of Arkansas is expected to go during the first round of the draft.
Smith Jr. was the number one high school prospect in the nation back in 2022. He declared for the 2023 draft after an unconventional freshman year at Arkansas. He missed the first two months due to a knee injury but returned in time to help the Razorbacks make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament.
“I was just trying to, you know, stay with it,” says Smith Jr, as he reflects on his short college career. “Just staying in the gym, staying positive, and you know, just tried to help my team win. It was tough just to stay in a rhythm, but it is what it is.”
Despite the small sample size in college, the 6’5″ guard is still a talented prospect and he says that’s is ready to prove that in the NBA.
“I feel like I bring everything to the team. My point guard really is I feel like you know, I didn’t get a chance to show a lot in my college years, my scoring ability, being able to just play defense, you know, make different reads.”
Smith Jr. and Wallace pushing each other during the Wizards’ workout in Southeast DC, a familiar feeling for the two NBA hopefuls. They’ve been competing against each other since the fourth grade, from basketball camps to youth travel tournaments, and now, they’ll push each other to make it to the NBA.
“This is really funny, because, you know, when you’re young you got the little rankings and stuff like that,” says Smith Jr. “You know, me in Case (Cason Wallace) we were like, nowhere near like the top 100. We just, you know, grinded and worked our way up to this point, and we lean on each other, to just to go out there and just compete and we have a good time doing it.”
“That’s my dog man, we’ve been going at each other for years now,” says Wallace. “So just both of us being here, going against each other at the highest level, dreams come true.”
The Washington Wizards hold the eighth pick in the upcoming 2023 NBA draft for the first time in franchise history.