Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

The Dagger

Five schools with the most at stake as the NBA early-entry deadline approaches

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger
1304641300
.

View photo

Kentucky's Aaron Harrison (Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)

A handful of top prospects are still weighing their options in the week leading up to Sunday's deadline for players to submit their names to the NBA in order to enter the draft. Here's a look at the five schools with the most at stake the next six days:

1. Kentucky
Undecided players: Andrew Harrison, G, Fr.; Aaron Harrison, G, Fr.; Dakari Johnson, C, Fr.; Alex Poythress, F, So.
Outlook: Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee, James Young and Julius Randle have each made their decisions, but Kentucky still has a lot at stake the next few days. The Wildcats have four key players still weighing their options: The Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress. The most important decisions for Kentucky are those of Andrew and Aaron Harrison simply because the Wildcats have a greater need on the perimeter than in the paint. Sophomore Dominique Hawkins and newcomers Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker would likely share the majority of the playing time in the backcourt were the Harrisons to leave. Andrew and Aaron Harrison arrived at Kentucky viewed as likely one-and-done lottery picks, but their erratic freshman seasons diminished their stock enough to have them pondering a return. Cauley-Stein's return surely complicated the decision for Johnson a bit. He's a potential first-round pick despite playing 14.1 minutes per game as a freshman and he'd now be fighting for frontcourt minutes again with Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee and incoming freshmen Karl Towns and Trey Lyles were he to return. 

2. Michigan
Undecided players: Mitch McGary, F, So.
Outlook: Jordan Morgan has graduated. Jon Horford is transferring. That means Michigan's frontcourt will be bereft of returning big men unless Mitch McGary decides to return for his junior season. A potential first-round pick had he left after his freshman season, McGary's stock took a hit as a sophomore thanks to a back injury that waylaid him for the final 3 1/2 months. He could still go in the late first round were he to turn pro this week but concerns about his health could also lead him to slip into the second round. If McGary returns, he could be the interior focal point of a Michigan team that would feature potential breakout star Caris LeVert and talented sophomores-to-be Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin on the perimeter. The problem is his NBA stock could suffer further if he either struggles more with back issues or lacks the explosiveness he once had. That he'd be 23 years old if he returns for his junior season is also a potential factor.  

3. UConn
Undecided players: DeAndre Daniels, F, Jr.; Ryan Boatright, G, Jr.
Outlook: The questions facing DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright are very similar. Do they want to return to UConn as the leaders of a team hoping to defend its surprise national championship? Or do they want to turn pro in hopes that a brilliant postseason has elevated both of them onto the NBA radar? Of the two juniors, the more likely to be drafted is Daniels, a onetime consensus top 30 recruit who blossomed this past season and lit up Florida for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the national semifinals. The 6-foot-9 forward has matured into a versatile offensive player capable of scoring via spot-up jump shots or off the dribble. For Boatright to have a more realistic shot to make the NBA, he must improve his distributing ability off the dribble as a point guard. The 6-foot guard impacted games with his ability to score off the dribble and pressure the ball defensively, but he'd likely be a late second round pick at best were he to leave. UConn has a pair of excellent incoming wings in Daniel Hamilton and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis, but the Huskies would be far more formidable if Boatright and Daniels joined them.

4. Colorado
Undecided players: Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Jr.
Outlook: Spencer Dinwiddie was very likely to turn pro after his junior season until a devastating knee injury complicated his decision. The torn ACL sidelined Dinwiddie for Colorado's final 18 games and made it far more unlikely he'd be taken in the first round were he to turn pro this June. Dinwiddie will be taking a risk no matter what he chooses, which explains why this decision has dragged into late-April. If he stays, he'd have a chance to get his degree and lead a formidable Colorado team deep into March, but he could also damage his stock further if he either suffers a second injury or lacks the explosiveness he had prior to the first one. If he leaves, he could easily fall to the second round or worse, which would leave him trying to fight for an NBA roster spot less than 12 months removed from an ACL tear. Colorado's fate next season likely hangs in the balance as Dinwiddie decides. The Buffs could be a preseason top 20 team if he's back and healthy or begin the season projected to finish in the middle third of the Pac-12 if he leaves.

5. UNLV
Still deciding: Khem Birch, F, Jr.
Outlook: Even though leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones transferred to Iowa State and leading rebounder Roscoe Smith made an ill-advised decision to turn pro, UNLV's most important player could still return to the Rebels. Projected second-round pick Khem Birch is still weighing his options and trying to decide if he'd be better off entering the draft or returning to a UNLV team that adds a trio of top 50 freshmen and a pass-first point guard in San Francisco transfer Cody Doolin. What makes Birch intriguing to NBA scouts is the 6-foot-9 Montreal native's ability to block shots as a help defender, run the floor and finish above the rim. He averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks as a junior, but he'd have a chance to solidify himself as a first-round pick in 2015 if he were to come back to school, increase his lower body strength and improve his back-to-the-basket game. 

- - - - - - -

Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Basketball
View Comments (62)