Yakima, Seattle and Gonzaga represent WA state in the 2022 NBA Draft

YAKIMA, Wash. — Growing in prominence with each passing year, Washington state has become one of the top producers of elite basketball talent in the United States. At least five players with distinctive ties to the Evergreen State are expected to be picked in the 2022 NBA Draft with four projected in the first round.

You can watch the dreams of these young men come true starting at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 on KAPP-KVEW (ABC).


One year ago, Eastern Washington native MarJon Beauchamp was playing JuCo basketball at Yakima Valley Community College. He bounced around the state, gaining steam at the cream of the crop: Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. Now, after a year of showcasing his skills playing for the Ignite—a developmental team designed to prepare prospects for in the NBA’s developmental league—Beauchamp is a projected first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

An exceptional athlete at 6-foot-7, Beauchamp leaves his mark on the game with shutdown defense on the perimeter and dazzling finishing ability at the basket. If he were a better 3-point shooter, Beauchamp would likely be a lottery prospect in this year’s class. Still, he’s poised to fill a role for a winning team while adding pieces to his game year by year. Already, the 21-year-old is one of the best basketball players to call Yakima home.


While he’s not from Washington, few players have brought such excitement to the state’s basketball fans as Chet Holmgren. There’s never been a player quite like him, standing at seven feet tall with the ball-handling and finesse of a guard. Holmgren is one of the best defensive prospects of the last decade despite his spinely frame. Every shot within his vicinity gets altered by his long reach and unassuming quickness, making him a lock to go at the top of his class.

Up to this point, Holmgren has dominated every step of his basketball career. The question remains—will he rise to the occasion when faced with the physicality of the NBA? It’s a legitimate inquiry, but generally, talent overcomes all obstacles and Chet has it in boatloads.


Few players have the appeal of Paolo Banchero—a 6-foot-10 forward from Seattle who is expected to go top-four of the 2022 NBA Draft. Blending incredible scoring ability with unique assertion and huge upside as a shooter, Banchero can get buckets from anywhere on the court floor. He’s a solid defender in spite of concerns about his foot speed, pestering opponents with active hands and a bruting frame.

Banchero attended O’Dea High School in Seattle, where he was a star for both the football and basketball teams. He was a surefire five-star recruit who put together an impressive one-and-done campaign as a freshman at Duke.

Each of his parents was an athlete at the University of Washington, where they met and fell in love. His mother, Rhonda Banchero, was the school’s all-time leading scorer by the time she finished her college career. Banchero aims to replicate some of her success in the pros.


Another Seattlite aiming to make a splash in the league, Tari Eason split his high school career between Garfield High School and Federal Way High School. He was mentored by head coach Brandon Roy, a Portland Trail Blazers legend who is now helping to build an NBA track for bright young talent from the Pacific Northwest.

Eason is a relentless defender whose long reach and enormous hands disrupt action at the rim and strip the ball from those who challenge him. Though his offensive game remains a work in progress, Eason is a skilled slasher who’s known for throwing down dunks that will rattle the whole gym. His 3-point shot is coming along, and while his skill-set is raw at this stage, he could end up one of the best players in his class.


Underrated in the great success of the Gonzaga Bulldogs in recent years has been combo guard Andrew Nembhard, who projects to be a second-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. With solid athletic traits and flashes of excellent passing, Nembhard would make for an intriguing backup point guard in the league.

Over the years, his 3-point shooting has improved and defensively, he’s better than ever. While there’s a chance he slips through the cracks and ends the night without a team, it’s hard to imagine Nembhard without a team by NBA Summer League in July.


READ: Ranking the five best Washington state natives in the NBA right now