Khaman Maluach, one of the top young basketball prospects in the world, has elected to graduate high school next summer, making him eligible for the NBA draft in 2025.

"I think I am ready to play at that level," Maluach told ESPN. "I've played against some of the top [prospects] in 2024 and 2025, and against pros in the FIBA World Cup. Playing against guys who are stronger and more experienced helped me realize where I stand and what I need to work on."

The 17-year-old, 7-foot-2 center from South Sudan has been developing at the NBA Academy Africa in Senegal since 2021. He was named MVP of the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africa camp in August, then earned a spot on the South Sudan senior national team, becoming the third-youngest player in FIBA World Cup history.

Previously slated to graduate high school in 2025, Maluach is being recruited by the likes of Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas and Baylor, and now has the option to join a college program a year early should he choose. He is also receiving interest from professional options such as G League Ignite and the NBL Next Stars program in Australia; or, he could elect to conduct a postgraduate year with the NBA Academy Africa and become the first player ever to be drafted directly from Africa.

"I want to go somewhere where they put my development first," Maluach said. "Get me ready for the next step, but also winning too. I would like to go somewhere where I can win a championship."

Maluach boasts a 7-foot-6 wingspan with outstanding mobility, giving him the defensive versatility to guard smaller players on the perimeter and be a significant deterrent as a rim protector. He has range on his jump shot and tremendous finishing prowess. Maluach averaged 21 points, 15.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks shooting 40% from 3 in the Basketball Africa League (BAL) qualifiers last month with the NBA Academy Africa.

Maluach will be watched closely by NBA executives from all 30 teams this week at the G League Winter Showcase in Orlando, Florida, where he will play two games versus the NBA Global and Latin America academies as part of the 2023 NBA Academy Winter Tour. This will be Maluach's third time participating in the event, giving him significant experience to fall back on despite having just turned 17 several months ago.

"The NBA Academy is like family," he said. "The teammates and coaches have created a bond which will last forever. I want to go a place like that. On our team I bring leadership and energy on defense. I'm a rim protector who gets everyone involved. I communicate, keep our team together. For me to reach my full potential, I need to work on my handle, my shot, everything.

"I watch a lot of Giannis [Antetokounmpo], a lot of [Joel] Embiid, Chet [Holmgren], [Victor] Wembanyama. Someday I will be guarding those guys, so I need to know how they play."