NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament First Round - Villanova vs Georgetown

Villanova forward Cam Whitmore announced Tuesday that he is declaring for the NBA Draft following a standout freshman season. Whitmore won Big East Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Wildcats. He missed the season's first seven contests due to a thumb injury but claimed a starting role for Villanova's final 20 games.

Whitmore entered college as the No. 11 overall prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, according to 247Sports, and he delivered on the hype. Though the Wildcats finished just 17-17 amid the coaching transition from Jay Wright to Kyle Neptune, Whitmore stood out as a bright spot during an up and down season.

With a rare combination of size and skill, Whitmore shot 57.8% on shots inside the arc while also demonstrating comfort shooting from the outside by hitting 34.3% of his 3-point attempts. During a 3-1 stretch to close the regular season that included wins over Xavier, Creighton and Seton Hall, Whitmore averaged 15.3 points on 52.5% shooting from the floor.

Whitmore became just the latest Villanova player to earn Big East Freshman of the Year, joining Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (2020) and Omari Spellman (2018) as recent winners from Villanova.

Cam Whitmore's NBA Draft projection

At 6-foot-7 and 232 pounds, Whitmore has the combination of size and athleticism needed to thrive in the NBA. He's physical enough to guard bigger wings and forwards but agile enough to switch onto guards defensively without getting burned. His offensive game showed immense promise during his freshman season.

Whitmore is ranked No. 4 in the 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings from CBS Sports. He went No. 7 overall In a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone and landed at No. 8 in Gary Parrish's most recent mock draft.

"Whitmore is similar to (Jarace) Walker in the sense that he just doesn't look like a typical teenager," Parrish wrote. "He's an explosive athlete who shoots it well enough from 3-point range to make him a lock for the top-10 of this draft even if Villanova is having a disappointing season."

Impact on Villanova

Given his lofty ranking as a prospect and prototypical NBA skillset, it was always unlikely that Whitmore would spend more than one season at Villanova. Still, his departure leaves another question for Neptune to answer this offseason. Fellow starters Brandon Slater and Caleb Daniels are out of eligibility, and the Wildcats have just one player from the 2023 recruiting class committed.

Barring some late additions to the program's recruiting class, it stands to reason that Neptune will be filling out the Wildcats' roster through the transfer portal as the program seeks to find its direction following Wright's abrupt retirement after the 2021-22 season.