He played college basketball for the Duke Blue Devils. Following his freshman season, Banchero declared for the 2022 NBA draft, where he was selected with the first overall pick by the Orlando Magic. In 2022, he was named the ACC Rookie of the Year.
Banchero was a consensus five-star recruit and one of the top players in the 2021 class. Although he received offers from top NCAA Division I programs, including Duke and Kentucky, most recruiting analysts predicted that he would commit to Washington. Despite the predictions, on August 20, 2020, Banchero committed to playing college basketball for Duke.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Smith had been widely expected to be the top selection. But the Magic turned things upside down by taking Banchero, who sported a bright purple suit with sequins, along with even brighter shoes, as he took to the stage and shook hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Banchero, a 6-foot-10 forward from Duke, averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists across 39 games for the Blue Devils, who reached the Final Four before losing to their forever rival in North Carolina. Banchero, who might be the most NBA-ready prospect in this draft, will now be looked to as the anchor of Orlando's nascent rebuild, which includes guards Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, forwards Franz Wagner and Jonathan Isaac and center Wendell Carter Jr.
While Banchero was a surprise at No. 1, Holmgren was always expected to go to Oklahoma City with the second pick. A 7-footer from Gonzaga, Holmgren flashed a wide array of skills in his lone season in college, averaging 14.1 points on 60% shooting overall and 39% from 3-point range while grabbing 9.9 rebounds and blocking 3.7 shots in 26.9 minutes across 32 games.