The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft came and went on Sunday. Here's a look at which programs benefited from the return of some high-profile players and which suffered some unexpected losses:
EARLY-ENTRY DEADLINE WINNERS:
1. Michigan State: Freshman guard Gary Harris likely would have been a first-round pick had he opted to enter the NBA draft. Junior forward Adreian Payne had a chance to parlay his strong finish this past season into being selected in the first round as well. Both opted to return to school for one more year instead, all but ensuring Michigan State will start next season in the top three in the polls along with Louisville and Kentucky. Every key player besides Derrick Nix from this past year's Sweet 16 team returns for the Spartans, with point guard Keith Appling, wing Denzel Valentine and forward Branden Dawson likely to join Payne and Harris in a formidable starting lineup.
2. Oklahoma State: Of all the top college players who opted to return to school this spring, Marcus Smart's decision was the most surprising. The dynamic freshman had a chance to be selected in the top five in this year's draft, but he came back to Oklahoma State in hopes of paving the way for a special season next year. With Smart, Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash all returning from a team that won 24 games and finished 13-5 in the Big 12, the Cowboys belong in the preseason top 10. They're also a big threat to end Kansas' Big 12 title streak, especially with the Jayhawks losing their entire starting five.
3. Creighton: Doug McDermott's decision to return for his senior year prevents the Bluejays from entering the Big East in rebuilding mode. Had McDermott left, Creighton would have lost its three leading scorers off a team that won 28 games and captured the Missouri Valley title last season. Graduating seniors Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs will still be missed, but the Bluejays will have an All-American candidate to build around. Pair the high-scoring McDermott with sweet-shooting Ethan Wragge, steady Jahenns Manigat and dynamic Austin Chatman, and that's a nucleus capable of competing with Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova in the new-look Big East.
4. Louisville: Even though junior center Gorgui Dieng is NBA-bound, Louisville should still be elated with who's returning next season. When leading scorer Russ Smith decided it wasn't worth leaving school to be a likely second-round pick, it ensured the Cardinals would have seven of their top nine players back from a team that won the national title. With newcomers Terry Rozier and Chris Jones stepping in to help replace Peyton Siva and Smith, Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware all returning, Louisville has as deep a backcourt as anyone in the nation. Dieng's ability to protect the rim will be missed, but Montrezl Harrell showed signs he might be able to inherit that role.
5. Baylor: If Baylor fails to contend in the Big 12 again next season, it certainly won't be a result of a lack of talent. Forwards Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin announced leading up to Sunday's draft deadline that they were returning to school, meaning they'll anchor a frontcourt as formidable as any in the Big 12. Austin averaged 13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots for a Baylor team that won the NIT this spring. Jefferson delivered 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Although the departure of Pierre Jackson leaves a big hole for Baylor to fill at point guard, potential heir apparent L.J. Rose or Kenny Chery will benefit from a talented frontcourt that can alleviate some of the pressure.
6. North Carolina: Three Tar Heels had a chance to be selected in this year's draft if they decided to leave school early. That two of them decided to remain in Chapel Hill for another year is the biggest reason why North Carolina should be optimistic about its chances to contend in the ACC next season. Though Reggie Bullock's steady leadership and scoring ability will be missed, the return of P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo helps offset that blow. Hairston emerged as a dangerous perimeter shooter after entering the starting lineup in February and McAdoo is North Carolina's most gifted interior player. Were he able to develop more post moves or become a more consistent mid-range shooter this offseason, that would be a huge boost for the Tar Heels.
7. Michigan: For a team that lost national player of the year Trey Burke and backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan still has to be thrilled with the team it has coming back next season. Since freshmen forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III decided to spend at least one more year in school, the Wolverines will likely begin the season in the top 10 in the polls and as co-Big Ten favorites along with Michigan State. The return of McGary and Robinson was no guarantee since both have first-round potential. McGary, in particular, had a chance to capitalize on the buzz from a brilliant NCAA tournament in which he averaged 14.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Other winners: Tennessee, Syracuse, Kentucky, Arizona State, UConn
EARLY-ENTRY DEADLINE LOSERS:
1. Marquette: Just when Marquette seemed to be on the verge of a preseason top 10 ranking, the Golden Eagles suffered an unexpected loss. Vander Blue, Marquette's leading scorer last season, announced he will forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft, a surprising decision since he is unlikely to be a first-round pick and needed another year in school to improve his outside shot. Had Blue returned, he could have been the centerpiece of maybe the most talented Marquette team since the days of Dwyane Wade. The Golden Eagles will still have a deep and experienced frontcourt, but now they'll need their heralded recruiting class to contribute immediately in the backcourt to help make up for Blue's absence.
2. Miami: The days of competing for the ACC title are going to feel very far away in Coral Gables next winter. With sophomore point guard Shane Larkin confirming Sunday that he is NBA-bound, the Hurricanes will only return one rotation player, wing Rion Brown, from a team that won 29 games and reached the Sweet 16. Larkin, considered a likely late first-round pick, probably made a wise decision by leaving. Not only would he have faced constant double teams next season had he returned to Miami, his stock this year went up with Marcus Smart's return to Oklahoma State. Now Larkin has a chance to be the third point guard taken in June, behind only Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams.
3. Texas: Already under fire at Texas after missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in his 15-year tenure this March, Longhorns coach Rick Barnes now may have to try to endure a second down season. First sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan decided to transfer. Then fellow sophomore Myck Kabongo entered the NBA draft even though there is a very good chance he falls to the second round. Without Kabongo or McClellan, finding perimeter scoring next season may be as tough for Texas as during this year's 16-18 campaign. A Longhorns team dominated by freshman and sophomores struggled to make up for the loss of J'Covan Brown to the NBA, shooting only 29. 7 percent from from behind the arc and 41.3 percent overall.
4. Arkansas: In the span of 48 hours in late March, Arkansas lost its two best players and all realistic hope of moving up in the SEC pecking order next season. Junior forward Marshawn Powell declared for the NBA draft first even though there's a good chance he goes undrafted and winds up playing overseas. Then point guard B.J. Young followed suit even though an erratic sophomore season spurred by a puzzling dip in his outside shooting makes him likely to fall to the second round. The departure of Powell and Young and the transfer of Hunter Mickelson to Kansas leaves the Razorbacks in bad shape. Forward Coty Clarke is Arkansas' leading returning scorer, but he only averaged 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds as a junior this past season.
5. Grant Jerrett: In one of the most puzzling decisions of the early-entry period, Jerrett entered the NBA draft despite only averaging 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds and only scoring in double figures five times as a freshman at Arizona last season. Those probably aren't the numbers of a first-round pick, which begs the question why go now rather than developing for another year or two in school? The return of Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski and the arrival of Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will help Arizona absorb the loss of Jerrett, though the Wildcats will miss the freshman's ability to stretch the floor. Jerrett's 40 percent outside shooting makes him intriguing to NBA scouts as a potential second-round pick, but he'll need to get stronger and develop an interior game.
6. Detroit: Ray McCallum faced a very similar decision to Doug McDermott, but the Detroit point guard made the opposite choice. Instead of returning for his senior season to play one more year for his father, the Detroit point guard opted to take his chances as a potential second-round pick in the NBA draft. McCallum, the Horizon League player of the year this past season, leaves a void that it will be very hard for the Titans to fill. He averaged 18.9 points, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals as a junior as Detroit vied with Valparaiso for the Horizon League crown.
7. DeWayne Dedmon: Kevin O'Neill's infamous prediction that Dedmon would one day become a lottery pick will soon be put to the test. In a surprising decision, Dedmon announced last week he is leaving USC and entering the NBA draft even though he averaged a mere 6.7 points and 7.0 rebounds as a junior last season. Dedmon's departure is puzzling simply because his production doesn't seem to suggest he is NBA-ready. He has the size, speed and athleticism NBA scouts covet and he blocks shots at a high level, but he is extremely raw in all other facets of the game, from low-post scoring, to mid-range shooting, to defensive positioning.
Other losers: Missouri, NC State, Georgia Pittsburgh
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