2024 NBA Draft: Ranking the top center prospects, including potential No. 1 pick Alex Sarr

Yahoo Sports is breaking down the top players in the 2024 NBA Draft by position this week. On Monday, we ranked the best point guards in this class. Today, we take a look at the centers, led by potential No. 1 pick Alex Sarr. This could be the second year in a row a French center goes No. 1 overall, with the San Antonio Spurs picking Victor Wembanyama last year.

The center position is changing in the NBA and becoming more of a hybrid role. Wembanyama and Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren are both very comfortable in the open court and taking players off the dribble, and the Minnesota Timberwolves have found success by having multiple 7-footers on the court at the same time.

There are no unicorn-like center prospects in this draft class, but there are still plenty of good options for teams looking to add some height and rim protection. Here's a look at the top center prospects as teams sort through their draft boards preparing for the 2024 NBA Draft on June 26-27.

1. Alex Sarr

Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 225 pounds | Age: 19

Sarr has had one of the most unique paths to the NBA. Originally from France, he turned pro at 14 and played in Spain and France before coming to the U.S., where he didn't go to college but elected to join Overtime Elite's semi-pro league for two years. Last season he moved halfway around the world to play for the Perth Wildcats in Australia's National Basketball League leading up to the NBA Draft.

"The professional route just suits me better as a player and has helped me develop my game better," Sarr told Yahoo Sports last fall. "The spacing allows me more freedom and versatility, so that’s why I chose to play in the NBL and not college."

Sarr is an elite rim protector and showed more promise with his pick-and-pop game during the shooting drills at the combine. The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 1 pick and will likely be considering Sarr or wing Zaccharie Risacher if they keep the pick. Sarr has the potential to become an inside-out center like Wembanyama and Holmgren with how well he moves off the ball and his shot creation off the block.

2. Donovan Clingan

Ht./Wt.: 7-2, 282 pounds | Age: 20

Clingan was one of the most improved prospects from his freshman year to sophomore year this past season and the anchor that helped lead UConn to back-to-back titles. His presence in the lane is immediately felt and he runs the floor very well for his size. When he was completely healthy during the back half of the season, Clingan made plays at the rim on defense and beat players in transitions for easy alley-oop dunks. He credits the UConn coaching staff for his transformation and development.

"We practice 11 months out of the year, and Coach (Dan) Hurley pushed us to our max every single day," Clingan told Yahoo Sports last month. "The coaching staff got everything out of us and put us in the best position possible to be successful and succeed at a high level."

After Sarr, Clingan will be the next center off the board with multiple teams interested who might have to trade up inside the top five to draft him. Detroit, Memphis, Oklahoma City and Utah are all possible landing spots for Clingan.

3. Kel'el Ware

Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 230 pounds | Age: 20

Ware has been one of the biggest risers during the pre-draft process and could shoot up into the lottery with how well he's performing in workouts. Ware and Sarr are almost identical on paper with their measurements, and both prospects move more fluidly on the court than the typical center.

Ware transferred to Indiana after his freshman year at Oregon and was a completely different player. His weakside help and shot-blocking off the switch improved with his footwork and timing. Ware averaged 15.9 points and 9.9 rebounds at Indiana and also shot 42.5% from 3-point range. Memphis, Sacramento, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers are all possible options between the late-lottery and mid-first round.

4. Yves Missi

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 230 pounds | Age: 20

Missi is still a raw prospect but has a ton of untapped potential that teams are intrigued by. He shot up six inches four years ago and went from playing the guard position to center. He has great hands, catching passes in traffic, and is extremely athletic at the rim. Missi didn't shoot the ball particularly well during the combine but was comfortable in his shooting motion and movement.

Any team that drafts Missi will have to be a bit patient with his development as he adjusts to the pace and physicality of the NBA game. He could be a good addition to a team that already has an established big and is looking for some extra rim protection to play alongside the second unit. His draft range is anywhere from 15-25.

5. Zach Edey

Ht./Wt.: 7-4, 299 pounds | Age: 22

Edey was the most dominant player in college basketball this year and led Purdue all the way to the championship game. He averaged 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game during his senior year and had 37 points in the loss to UConn in the title match. Edey's draft range is all over the place; he could go anywhere from 15-35. Some NBA scouts and executives don't see how his game translates to the NBA with his size and lack of mobility on the perimeter, while others think he could anchor their defense.

Next up

UCLA's Adem Bona helped himself with how well he played during the 5-on-5 scrimmage portion of the combine. He is one of the most physical bigs in this draft and sets bruising screens on the perimeter. His timing defensively still needs some work, but for teams in the second round looking to add size in the paint, Bona is a great option at 6-10 and 243 pounds.

Ulrich Chomche is a 6-11 center out of Cameroon and one of the youngest players in this draft, not turning 19 until December. The decision to stay in the draft came after a lackluster showing at the Nike Hoop Summit, where NBA scouts and executives were able to see him in a handful of practices, a scrimmage and an All-Star game. Chomche has a lot of potential but will be a draft-and-stash player who needs further development before he can contribute to an NBA team.

Oregon's N'Faly Dante was incredible during the Pac-12 tournament and two games in the NCAA tournament, where he averaged 25.5 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He is automatic anytime he catches the ball close to the rim and showed more of a motor at the draft combine during 5-on-5 play.

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