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Who is the next generational draft prospect? Nine names to know across five sports

Three major sports have held their annual drafts over the past 30 days, and two of the No. 1 overall picks — Victor Wembanyama in the NBA and Connor Bedard in the NHL — were hyped as generational talents. And it wasn’t that long ago that we heard similar talk about Trevor Lawrence in the NFL, Adley Rutschman in MLB and Sabrina Ionescu in the WNBA. When we set out to find the all-time top prospect in each sport, it left us wondering who will be the next elite player to come up through the ranks and land the rare “can’t miss” label.

So we asked our draft experts and analysts — Jonathan Givony, Kiley McDaniel, Matt Miller, M.A. Voepel and Greg Wyshynski — to pick out the next big-time prospects in all five major draft sports. Some of them will be draft-eligible as early as next year, while others will have to wait a few years to hear their names called. But every player we listed has one thing in common: You’ll be hearing a lot about them in the lead-up to their respective drafts.

Who is next? Let’s look at the potential generational prospects who are already getting buzz.

Jump to a sport:

Check out our all-time draft hype bracket

Who are the next elite MLB draft prospects?

Ethan Holliday, 3B, Stillwater HS (Oklahoma)

When he’s draft-eligible: 2025

Stat to know: He batted .407 for 15U Team USA national team in 2022.

Pro comp: Jackson Holliday

Why there is buzz: Holliday already has plus left-handed power and will likely develop more, projecting for at least 25 homers at maturity. He has a solid feel to hit and looks to be an infielder, but he’s probably not a shortstop long-term. Jackson, his older brother and the 2022 first overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles, is an easy comp, but Ethan is already bigger at 6-foot-4. And the name thrown out by scouts when I first saw Ethan as a freshman in high school was a left-handed Nick Castellanos.

Two other contenders to make this list are the top 2026 prep draft prospects: CF/RHP Brady Harris (Florida) and SS Grady Emerson (Texas).

Leodalis de Vries, SS, Dominican Republic

When he’s signing-eligible: The opening of the 2024 signing period (Jan. 15)

Stat to know: All five of his tools could have a 60 grade on the baseball scouting scale (80 is max and 60 is considered plus).

Pro comp: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa

Why there is buzz: A 6-foot-2 switch-hitting shortstop who is above average at everything at age 16 is a pretty compelling report. He’s rumored to be signing with the San Diego Padres, just like the best player in the 2006-born age group, catcher Ethan Salas. (I ranked de Vries second in my best players by birth year ranking for those born in 2006.)

De Vries doesn’t have a perfect comp, but he’s probably somewhere between Lindor and Correa physically — maybe with some Bobby Witt Jr. thrown in?

One other international candidate is Dominican SS Elian Pena, generally seen as the best player now in the 2025 signing period. — McDaniel

Who is the next elite NBA draft prospect?

Cameron Boozer, PF, Christopher Columbus HS (Miami)

When he’s draft-eligible: 2026

Stat to know: He averaged 21.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore. And oh yeah, his GPA is 4.81.

Pro comp: Paolo Banchero

Why there is buzz: Boozer, who turned 16 years old on July 18, has repeatedly shown he’s the best high school basketball player when playing against guys much older than him. At 6-foot-9, 238 pounds, Boozer can play any position on the court, especially as an initiator, where his fantastic skill level and feel for the game stands out. Boozer’s game has shades of Banchero, the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year, with the way he handles and passes the ball. But Boozer is a much better shooter and defender at the same stage, playing with a level of poise and maturity you rarely see from a player his age.



Carlos Boozer’s son Cameron shows out with a dunk and 1-handed pass

The top recruit in the 2025 class, Cameron Boozer, puts on a show with an alley-oop dunk and a one-handed pass.

Scouts have questioned how advanced he is physically and how polished he already is relative to players his age. That’s something Boozer will need to continue to prove over the next three years. Still, it’s difficult to nitpick how productive he is and how easy the game comes for him, which bodes extremely well for his future. — Givony

Who are the next elite NFL draft prospects?

When he’s draft-eligible: 2024

Stat to know: He produced 52 total TDs and threw just 5 interceptions in 2022.

Pro comp: Patrick Mahomes

Why there is buzz: It would be tough for any player to best Williams’ debut on the college scene, when he entered the Red River Rivalry in the second quarter for a benched Spencer Rattler in 2021 — while still at Oklahoma — and led a dashing comeback against Texas. His 2022 Heisman-winning campaign after transferring to USC further cemented his status as the next great quarterback prospect. His 69 plays of at least 20 yards tied for the most in the FBS last season.

Williams has elite arm talent at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, but it’s his field vision, agility and ability to create on the move as both a passer and runner that has scouts comparing him to Mahomes. NFL teams will be lining up for the right to select him first overall in next year’s draft.



Why Matt Miller is comparing Caleb Williams to Patrick Mahomes

Matt Miller explains why Caleb Williams’ scrambling and playmaking ability gives him an edge as a QB.

When he’s draft-eligible: 2025

Stat to know: He had 7.5 sacks, 73 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss … as a true freshman in 2022.

Pro comp: Micah Parsons

Why there is buzz: Any time a true freshman makes the type of impact that Perkins did in 2022, NFL scouts take notice. His 15.6% pressure rate ranked 17th in the FBS among players with at least 140 pass rush plays, and he created four turnovers (three forced fumbles and an interception).

Perkins is already proving himself as a do-it-all defender. His versatility and range in space stand out on tape. He needs to add weight to his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, but Perkins’ instincts as a pass-rusher and in coverage are some of the best the college world has seen in recent years. — Miller

Who are the next elite NHL draft prospects?

Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University

When he’s draft-eligible: 2024

Stat to know: He scored 141 points in 50 games for Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U team in 2020-21, including 51 goals.

Pro comp: Jack Hughes

Why there is buzz: Any time there’s a high-end NHL prospect emerging from Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep in Minnesota, he is going to have buzz. It’s the school that helped players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Nathan MacKinnon on their way to stardom, among others. Celebrini, a Vancouver native, is the consensus No. 1 pick for the 2024 draft.

He’s also an ideal player for this era of the league, where a player doesn’t need significant size to excel. The NHL is all about speed and tenacity on both ends of the ice, which is a central part of Celebrini’s game. He’s a similar size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) — for now — as Hughes when the latter went first overall to the New Jersey Devils in 2019. Like Hughes, he possesses elite puck-handling skills and vision on the ice. While his skating isn’t at the Devils star’s level, he can make plays at high speed like Hughes.

He’s not Connor McDavid — who is? — but Celebrini is a franchise-level prospect.

Gavin McKenna, F, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

When he’s draft-eligible: 2026

Stat to know: He had 18 points in 16 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League as a 15-year-old, becoming just the third player to be granted “exceptional player” status by British Columbia Hockey and Hockey Alberta.

Pro comp: Connor Bedard

Why there is buzz: Bedard, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, is actually McKenna’s cousin — and the prospect with whom McKenna is most closely compared. Bedard and Matthew Savoie, drafted ninth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2022, are the only other two players who were granted exceptional status for the WHL.

McKenna has exceptional offensive skills that quickly put him on the radar of NHL draft forecasters, including 65 points in 35 games with the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s U18 division team in 2021-22. His buzz is amplified by his unique background: The phenom grew up playing backyard hockey in Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Only three skaters have made the NHL from the Yukon and only one played more than six games: Dylan Cozens, who is with the Sabres. — Wyshynski

Who are the next elite WNBA draft prospects?

When she’s draft-eligible: 2024

Stat to know: She led Division I in assists (8.6) and 3-pointers per game (3.68) and she was second in scoring (27.8 PPG) in 2022; no other Division I player was in the top 25 of all three of those categories.

Pro comp: Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu

Why there is buzz: Clark swept the national player of the year awards in 2023 and led Iowa to its first NCAA final. She’s the most lethal offensive player in the women’s college game, as she’s equally effective as a scorer and a passer. She has the ball the majority of the time, and former WNBA point guard Ticha Penicheiro said of Clark, “She’s the best decision-maker on the court.”

Clark not only led the nation in 3-pointers made, but she’s known for shooting them from way downtown. The further out she shoots, the more she forces defenders to pick her up near half court. Clark’s consecutive 41-point games in the Elite Eight — she recorded a triple-double in the win over Louisville — and national semifinals were two of the best back-to-back performances ever in the NCAA tournament.



Caitlin Clark’s triple-double leads Iowa to Big Ten title

Caitlin Clark dominates with 30 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds as Iowa defeats Ohio State to win the Big Ten championship.

Clark was the most exciting player to watch in March Madness. Although she will be a senior, she has an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 waiver. So it’s possible we won’t see her as a WNBA player until the 2025 season.

When she’s draft-eligible: 2024

Stat to know: She led Division I in double-doubles with 34 in 36 games and she was in the top five in scoring (23.0 PPG) and rebounding (15.4 RPG).

Pro comp: Nneka Ogwumike, NaLyssa Smith

Why there is buzz: Reese was the most coveted transfer after the 2021-22 season, and she and LSU ended up being mutually beneficial to each other. Reese was the 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading the Tigers to the program’s first national championship. The NIL opportunities at LSU helped Reese build her brand so that by the time she was on the biggest stage at the Final Four, she was prepared to take full advantage of it. With her energetic game and off-court personality, Reese is definitely a visible athlete.

She will bring fans with her to the WNBA. That could be in 2024 or 2025 since Reese has an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 waiver. The 2023-24 season will be a little different for Reese since so much additional talent is coming to LSU via transfers and recruits. But Reese also wants to show she can be a strong leader, and this season’s team will give her plenty of opportunity to do that. — Voepel

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