From Athlon Sports:
The NCAA’s early entry draft deadline, moved up to April 16, functioned more like a suggestion rather than any sort of rule this season.
A handful of underclassmen announced their intentions on the NBA Draft before the NCAA’s April 16 deadline, but the real point of no return for many is the NBA’s deadline of April 28. The NCAA mark says an underclassman who has not signed with an agent must remove his name from consideration before April 16 if they want to return to school.
The April 28 date is established by the NBA, meaning an undecided underclassman in reality has an extra 12 days to make the call provided he doesn’t sign with an agent.
The rule was put into place to protect coaches who, in theory, wouldn’t have to save a scholarship for several weeks while a star player mulled the NBA Draft.
In practice, many coaches are doing just that. Here’s our look at the winners and losers for the NBA Draft deadline and everyone in between as the clock ticks down to April 28.
EARLY ENTRY WINNERS
Cowboys coach Travis Ford was perhaps the biggest winner in the early entry deadline. He returned not only a potential top-five pick but also the point guard who helped Oklahoma State to its best season under Ford. Marcus Smart, who was in a neck-and-neck battle with Ben McLemore for national freshman of the year, elected to return to school. Oklahoma State also returns Le’Bryan Nash, making the Cowboys a possible favorite in the Big 12.
The Gators held onto freshman Patric Young, who will give Florida one of the best froncourts in the country with freshman center Chris Walker and Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith. After three consecutive Elite Eight appearances, the Gators should open next season as a top-10 team.
No matter what happened with the NBA Draft deadline, Kentucky would be a winner going into next season thanks to a signing class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans. The return of Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress at least ensure there will be veterans -- relatively speaking -- in this group. ESPN’s Chad Ford ranked both as top-25 prospects.
Reggie Bullock announced Tuesday he would head to the NBA Draft, but P.J. Hairston told the Greensboro News & Record he plans to return to school, and James Michael McAdoo, a potential late first-round pick, also returns, so North Carolina will have three of its top four scorers back on the roster.
Shabazz Muhammad went to the NBA Draft as expected, but Kyle Anderson will return. The stat sheet stuffer who averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals last season will give Steve Alford a leg up in his first season in Westwood. With the drama surrounding Ben Howland’s job status and Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility and age gone, it will be interesting to see how Anderson and rising sophomore Jordan Adams fare in 2013-14.
Perhaps it’s tough to call a team a winner that lost Adonis Thomas to the draft and Tarik Black and Antonio Barton to transfers, but Memphis did keep its scoring and assist leader, Joe Jackson, on campus. He’ll be a key veteran on a team bringing in a highly touted five-man signing class.
Sean Kilpatrick may not have been in demand in the NBA Draft had he left, but that doesn’t mean anything for Cincinnati’s prospects. Instead, the Bearcats return the fifth-leading scorer in the Big East last season. Kilpatrick will be the key returnee to a backcourt that loses Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker.
The Sun Devils have star power for the first time since James Harden left. Jahii Carson, the Pac-12 co-freshman of the year, submitted his name for evaluation, but didn’t see enough to leave Arizona State. He’ll make Arizona State an NCAA Tournament contender after the Sun Devils played in the NIT last season.
Gregory Echinique and Grant Gibbs exhausted their eligibility, but Creighton will start from square one in the Big East if Doug McDermott leaves early. McDermott has been projected in the late first round or early second round.
Teams on Andrew Wiggins’ list
Wiggins will wait out draft decisions before picking his school. The small forward could be a transformative player wherever he goes. If he picks Florida State, he’ll make the Seminoles a potential top-25 team. If he picks Kansas, he’ll ease the loss of all five starters. If he picks North Carolina, he’ll strengthen the Heels’ case as an ACC contender. If he picks Kentucky, he’ll add to the embarrassment of riches for the preseason No. 1 team.
The Bears didn’t have the Big 12 title-contending season expected of them, but they did end up winning the NIT. Will Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson return to school to atone for Baylor’s struggles in 2012-13? Projections are divided for both.
The senior-laden Hurricanes are already in a rebuilding mode of sorts with seniors Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gable gone, but it remains unclear if they’ll do so without their best player. Shane Larkin is still seeking feedback on whether to return for his junior season. DraftExpress projected him as a first-round pick while ESPN’s Chad Ford did not.
Few teams could change their preseason ranking as much as Michigan State could based on the decisions of Adreian Payne and Gary Harris. With Payne and Harris, Michigan State is a preseason top-three team. Without them, Michigan State could still be pretty good with Branden Dawson and Keith Appling, but perhaps not a national title contender. Harris is returning. Will Payne join him?
If Andre Roberson opts for the NBA Draft, he will be one of the only players leaving from the Buffaloes roster. Colorado could contend for a Pac-12 title if Roberson, who has led the Buffs to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, comes back to school.
Jordan McRae already announced he would return for his senior season. If Jarnell Stokes returns, the Volunteers could be virtually intact from last year. With Jeronne Maymon back from the knee injury that sidelined him all of last season, Tennessee could be a Tournament team in 2013-14 if Stokes returns.
Russ Smith’s father says his son will leave for the draft, though the Cardinals’ guard may not be a first-round draft pick. Smith says he’s “50/50” on the draft. Louisville may be a top-five team without Smith thanks to new arrivals in the backcourt, but he was the Cards’ leading scorer on the way to the title.
EARLY ENTRY LOSERS
Losing Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo was not a surprise, though Zeller could have returned for more seasoning after a lackluster NCAA Tournament. One of the other departures -- Remy Abell via transfer -- leaves Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey as the only regulars returning to the Hoosiers.
Marquette looked like a potential top-10 team with Vander Blue, but the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer elected to leave even though he’s not projected as a first-round pick. Marquette absorbed the losses of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom last season. Can the Eagles take another big loss?
Trey Burke surprised no one by declaring for the NBA Draft this week, butJohn Beilein also loses Tim Hardaway Jr. Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, who were projected near the end of the lottery or lower, are returning, though.
The dismantling of the Mountain West began when none of its five teams in the NCAA Tournament reached the second weekend. Now, San Diego State loses Jamaal Franklin, UNLV loses Anthony Bennett and New Mexico loses Tony Snell early to the draft. Meanwhile, Colorado State loses six seniors.
Otto Porter waited until April 16 to announce his decision, but his leap to the NBA Draft erases the Hoyas’ hopes of being a top-15 team. Georgetown will look to rebuild around Markel Starks, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a healthy Greg Whittington.
The Longhorns lost to the draft a player who gave them only 11 games last season, but Myck Kabongo still led Texas in scoring. The question is how bad could it get without him. Texas was 2-8 in the Big 12 before Kabongo was eligible this season, compared to 6-3 in the Big 12 with him. Texas has little in the way of top recruits joining the program.
SEC teams not named Kentucky, Florida or Tennessee
Georgia was a one-man show with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season, and he’s gone to the Draft. So is Arkansas point guard B.J. Young. But the most puzzling decision was that of Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, who was inconsistent all of last season. Anyone hoping for an SEC rebound may have to wait a bit longer.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
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