A post-draft deadline look at the 2016-17 season's top 20 teams
The deadline passed Wednesday night for prospects to decide whether or not to stay in the NBA draft, so the landscape for next year's college basketball season is finally becoming clearer.
Here's an updated version of the Dagger's way-too-early Top 20 that takes into account which early-entry candidates are turning pro and which are returning to school:
Key losses: F Brandon Ingram, C Marshall Plumlee, G, Derryck Thornton
Key returners: G Grayson Allen F Amile Jefferson, G Matt Jones, G Luke Kennard, F Chase Jeter
Notable newcomers: F Harry Giles, F Jayson Tatum, C Marques Bolden, G Frank Jackson, F Javin DeLaurier, F Jack White
Outlook: Already a strong candidate to be next year's preseason No. 1 even if Allen entered the NBA draft, Duke became a near lock last month when its leading scorer decided to pass. The high-scoring guard will be the centerpiece of a loaded Blue Devils team that returns four key players, gets Jefferson back from injury and welcomes the nation's most decorated recruiting class. Duke's greatest area of strength is at wing, where Allen and Tatum will likely start with the veteran Jones and the sharpshooting Kennard also likely to play big roles. Jefferson will start alongside a heralded freshman in the frontcourt, Giles if he's fully recovered from an ACL tear last fall or Bolden if not. The only potential position of weakness for Duke is point guard thanks to the transfer of Thornton. Jackson will get the first crack at the job but Allen is a capable secondary ball handler who could play out of position if the freshman struggles.
Key losses: G Tyler Ulis, G Jamal Murray, F Skal Labissiere, F Alex Poythress, F Marcus Lee
Key returners: G Isaiah Briscoe, F Derrick Willis, F Isaac Humphries, G Dominique Hawkins
Notable newcomers: G DeAaron Fox, G Malik Monk, C Bam Adebayo, F Wenyen Gabriel, F Sacha Killeya-Jones
Outlook: Here's a scary thought for Kentucky's future opponents: John Calipari has said this may be his best incoming recruiting class. Set to replace Ulis and Murray in the backcourt are Fox and Monk, the former the nation's most prized point guard and the latter the nation's most highly touted shooting guard. The 6-foot-4 Fox is explosive off the dribble, effective making plays and tough on defense too. Monk is a pure scorer who can blow by defenders who play him too tight and knock down jumpers if given free space. Those two will team with Briscoe to form a formidable backcourt. While Kentucky's frontcourt was the weak link this past season, the rugged, physical Adebayo could help change that. He should be a double-double machine in the paint and an ideal complement to the sweet-shooting Willis. Lee's departure and Marques Bolden's decision to go to Duke hurts Kentucky's frontcourt depth, but Gabriel and Killeya-Jones are capable of making an impact off the bench.
Key losses: G Ryan Arcidiacono, C Daniel Ochefu
Key returners: G Josh Hart, G Jalen Brunson, F Kris Jenkins, F Darryl Reynolds, F Mikal Bridges, G Phil Booth
Notable newcomers: F Omari Spellman, C Dylan Painter, F Eric Paschall
Outlook: The reigning champions are expected to return all but two rotation players now that Hart has decided to come back for his senior season. Thus it's entirely realistic Villanova could not only capture a fourth straight Big East title next season but also contend for a second straight national title. Departing seniors Arcidiacono and Ochefu have been crucial to Villanova's recent success, but the Wildcats have promising replacements for both ready to embrace bigger roles. Ex-McDonald's All-American Brunson will likely share point guard duties with Booth next season after splitting them with Arcidiacono this past season. Reynolds could move into the starting lineup in Ochefu's stead next season, though the senior-to-be will be pushed by Spellman, Villanova's most promising incoming freshman. Villanova has some depth at wing too. The talented Bridges might be the team's best long-term prospect.
Key losses: F Perry Ellis, G Wayne Selden, F Jamari Traylor, C Hunter Mickelson, G Brannen Greene, F Cheick Diallo
Key returners: G Frank Mason, G Devonte Graham, F Landen Lucas, G, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, F Carlton Bragg
Notable newcomers: G Josh Jackson, C Udoka Azubuike, F Mitch Lightfoot, C Evan Maxwell
Outlook: At a time when most of the rest of the Big 12's top teams appear poised to take a step backward, Kansas is just reloading. The Jayhawks bolstered an already strong roster last month when they landed an elite wing Rivals.com considers to be the best player in the 2016 class. The addition of McDonald's All-American Josh Jackson reduces the sting of wings Selden andGreene both entering the NBA draft. Jackson should slide into the starting lineup alongside returning guards Mason and Graham with the promising Mykhailiuk also playing heavy minutes off the bench. The frontcourt is more unproven, but it has potential. Bragg, a heralded sophomore-to-be, has the skill to replace some of the production that Ellis provided at power forward the past few years, while Lucas emerged late this past season as a strong defender and rebounder. That nucleus should be enough to make Kansas a heavy favorite to capture a 13th consecutive Big 12 title.
Key losses: F Elgin Cook, F Dwayne Benjamin
Key returners: F Dillon Brooks, G Tyler Dorsey, F Chris Boucher, F Jordan Bell, G Casey Benson, G Dylan Ennis, G Kendall Small
Notable newcomers: C Michael Cage, G Payton Pritchard, F Keith Smith, F Kavell Bigby-Williams
Outlook: It may be difficult for Oregon to exceed expectations in the Pac-12 preseason poll yet again next season. That's because the Ducks will almost certainly start the year as Pac-12 favorites now that Dorsey and Brooks have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Brooks averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season, while Dorsey tallied 13.4 points per game and shot above 40 percent from behind the arc. Their return means that Oregon will have five of its seven leading scorers back from a 31-win team that won the Pac-12 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Oregon also adds depth via a recruiting class featuring Pritchard, a high-scoring point guard, Cage, a skilled, long-armed center, and Bigby-Williams, the national junior college player of the year. The wildcard is Ennis, a Villanova transfer who sat out all but two games this past season due to injury. If Ennis is granted a sixth year by the NCAA next month, he would certainly earn playing time both on and off ball.
6. North Carolina
Key losses: G Marcus Paige, F Brice Johnson, Joel James
Key returners: F Justin Jackson, C Kennedy Meeks, F Isaiah Hicks, G Joel Berry, G Nate Britt, F Theo Pinson
Notable newcomers: G Seventh Woods, G Brandon Robinson, C Tony Bradley
Outlook: Assuming potential sanctions stemming from the NCAA's academic fraud investigation don't impact North Carolina next season, the team that the national runner-ups will put on the floor has the potential to be very good. The Tar Heels lost their All-American power forward and a longtime stalwart in their backcourt, but Johnson and Paige were their only major departures after Jackson decided this week to withdraw from the draft. His return was critical for North Carolina because he'll start at small forward and perhaps inherit the role of go-to scorer. Meeks and Hicks should still be a pretty imposing low-post combo, Pinson and Berry seem ready to take on a bigger role in the backcourt and all three freshmen are four-star prospects capable of contributing off the bench right away.
7. Michigan State
Key losses: G Denzel Valentine, G Bryn Forbes, C Matt Costello, F Deyonta Davis, F Marvin Clark, F Javon Bess
Key returners: G Eron Harris, G TumTum Nairn, F Gavin Schilling, G Matt McQuaid, F Kenny Goins
Notable newcomers: F Miles Bridges, G Cassius Winston, G Josh Langford, C Nick Ward, F Ben Carter
Outlook: For a school that's losing a national player of the year winner, one of the country's most lethal outside shooters and the Big Ten's most improved big man, Michigan State will enter next season feeling pretty optimistic. The Spartans return several key rotation players from this season and add a recruiting class eclipsed only by Duke's and Kentucky's. At point guard, Michigan State will have Nairn and the promising Winston. At wing, returners Harris and McQuaid will compete for playing time with the highly touted Bridges and Langford. The frontcourt became an area of concern after Davis chose to enter the draft, but Bridges could definitely see playing time at the four spot similar to how Justise Winslow did at Duke his lone season. Michigan State also added UNLV graduate transfer Ben Carter to compete for frontcourt minutes along with returning big men Schilling and Goins.
Key losses: G Yogi Ferrell, F Troy Williams, G Nick Zeisloft, F Max Bielfeldt
Key returners: F Thomas Bryant, F O.G. Anunoby, G James Blackmon, G Robert Johnson, F Collin Hartman, F Juwan Morgan
Notable newcomers: G Josh Newkirk, C De'Ron Davis, G Devonte Green, G Curtis Jones, G Grant Gelon
Outlook: Indiana emerged as one of the big early-entry period winners because the Hoosiers lost only one of their four potential draft prospects. Yes, they said goodbye to the talented but erratic Williams. But keeping Bryant, Anunoby and Blacmon was huge, especially considering Bryant showed enough as a freshman that he likely would have been taken in the first round and Anunoby had flashed enough raw potential to be a potential second-round flier for a franchise willing to develop him. With those two back, Indiana's strength should be in the frontcourt, as Hartman, Morgan and the promising freshman Davis are also capable of making an impact. There's no single player who will replace everything that Ferrell did for Indiana this past season, but Indiana has options in the backcourt too. Newkirk, a Pittsburgh transfer, should compete for playing time at point guard with Johnson. A healthy Blackmon is likely to start at wing and Jones should also see playing time as well.
Key losses: G Malcolm Brogdon, F Anthony Gill, C Mike Tobey, F Evan Nolte
Key returners: G London Perrantes, F Isaiah Wilkins, G Devon Hall, G Marial Shayok, G Darius Thompson, C Jack Salt, F Jarred Reuter
Notable newcomers: F Austin Nichols, G Kyle Guy, F Mamadi Diakite, G Ty Jerome, F DeAndre Hunter, F Jay Huff
Outlook: The only silver lining to Virginia's late-game collapse against Syracuse in the Elite Eight was that it doesn't figure to be the Cavaliers' last chance at a Final Four. The way Tony Bennett is recruiting, the Cavaliers could be back in contention soon. While Virginia graduates four rotation players including the ACC player of the year in Brogdon and another all-conference standout in Gill, the talent entering the program should keep the Cavaliers from falling far. Nichols, a transfer who averaged 13.3 points and 3.4 blocks his final season at Memphis, should provide interior scoring and the rim protection the Cavaliers lacked last season. He'll anchor the Virginia frontcourt along with Wilkins, while Diakite competes for minutes with incoming freshman Huff and returners Salt and Reuter off the bench. Perrantes must take on a greater role as a scorer and a leader next season at point guard, but he'll have plenty of help. Hall and Shayok both have breakout potential at wing and Guy is the program's first McDonald's All-American in seven years.
Key losses: C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York, F Ryan Anderson, G Justin Simon, Mark Tollefsen
Key returners: G Allonzo Trier, G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, G Kadeem Allen, C Dusan Ristic, C Chance Comanche
Notable newcomers: F Ray Smith, G Terrance Ferguson, G Kobi Simmons, G Rawle Atkins, F Lauri Markkanen
Outlook: When Trier announced he would not enter the NBA draft last month and Ferguson decided to come to Tucson anyway, that left Sean Miller with a problem most coaches would kill to have. The Wildcats have so many talented perimeter players on next year's roster that it will be tough to find playing time for all of them. The only certain starter is Trier, a 6-foot-4 wing who averaged 14.8 points per game as a freshman. He will be the centerpiece of a backcourt that also features three incoming top 20 prospects, returners Jackson-Cartwright and Allen, as well as Smith, Arizona's most heralded recruit in the 2015 class before suffering a torn ACL. One option for Arizona could be playing the 6-7 Smith extended minutes as an undersized power forward, which would allow Ferguson to provide outside shooting alongside Trier at wing and also mask the one potential weak spot on the Arizona roster. While the Wildcats have Ristic and Comanche back at center, the lone true power forward on the roster is Markannen, another highly touted prospect but one that may not be ready to play 30 minutes per game right away.
Key losses: F James Farr, G Remy Abell, F Jalen Reynolds, G Larry Austin Jr.
Key returners: F Trevon Bluiett, G Edmond Sumner, G Myles Davis, G JP Macura, F Sean O'Mara, F Kaiser Gates,
Notable newcomers: G Quentin Goodin, F Tyrique Jones, C Eddie Ekiyor, F Rashid Gaston
Outlook: Don't hand the Big East title to Villanova just yet. The Wildcats will be challenged by a Xavier team that returns a handful of key players from a 28-win team that spent much of last season in the top 10 nationally. The Musketeers will rely on a loaded perimeter corps featuring the promising Sumner at point guard and veterans Davis and Macura on the wing. Leading returning scorer Bluiett can play either forward position effectively, allowing Xavier the freedom to go big with him on the perimeter or small with him at the four. Reynolds' early departure was a blow, but Xavier has enough depth to replace him and Farr in the frontcourt. O'Mara could see increased playing time and Norfolk State transfer Rashid Gaston averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds his final season for the Spartans.
Key losses: G Damion Lee, G Trey Lewis, C Chinanu Onuaku
Key returners: G Donovan Mitchell, G Quentin Snider, C Mangok Mathiang, F Raymond Spalding, F Jaylen Johnson, F Deng Adel, F Anas Mahmoud
Notable newcomers: G V.J. King, G Tony Hicks
Outlook: The lingering question hovering over the Louisville basketball program is whether the NCAA will be satisfied with its self-imposed 2015-16 postseason ban or levy further punishment next season. A nine-game suspension for Rick Pitino for failure to monitor his program seems inevitable and scholarship reductions are certainly a possibility, however, the Cardinals have team that can play deep into March next season if its allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament. Even though Onuaku chose to stay in the draft, Louisville has an array of big men capable of altering shots around the rim and attacking the glass at both ends. The key for the Cardinals will be whether they can replace the scoring of Lee and Lewis. Snider is a good offensive point guard, Mitchell and Adel are both candidates for breakout sophomore seasons and incoming McDonald's All-American King should also be able to make an immediate impact.
Key losses: None
Key returners: F Nigel Hayes, G Bronson Koenig, C Ethan Happ, F Vitto Brown, G Zak Showalter, G Jordan Hill, F Khalil Iverson
Notable newcomers: F Andy Van Vliet, G Brevin Pritzl, G D'Mitrik Trice, F Aleem Ford
Outlook: While Hayes undoubtedly intended to enter the NBA draft as a junior before this season began, he was wise to stay put for his senior year. He endured some rough patches this season as his revamped outside shot deserted him and he transitioned into a leadership role. He also has the chance to be part of another special season at Wisconsin if he returns because the Badgers return an astonishing 99.7 percent of their scoring and rebounding from a team that rebounded from a 9-9 start, blossomed during the second half of the season and came within a basket or two of the Elite Eight. Hayes will be part of a starting lineup that will also include co-star Bronson Koenig, fellow seniors Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter and reigning Big Ten freshman of the year Ethan Happ. Preseason expectations might not match the 2014-15 season, but the Badgers will definitely be expected to contend in the Big Ten and make another deep March run.
Key losses: F Kyle Wiltjer, F Domantas Sabonis (projected), G Eric McClellan, G Kyle Dranginis
Key returners: G Josh Perkins, C Przemek Karnowski (projected), G Silas Melson, C Ryan Edwards, G Bryan Alberts
Notable newcomers: G Nigel Williams-Goss, F Jonathan Williams III, C Zach Collins, G Zach Norvell, F Killian Tillie, F Jacob Larsen
Outlook: While the graduation of Wiltjer and the early departure of Sabonis will be a blow to Gonzaga, it's possible the Zags have a better year next season than they did this past year. That can happen if two transfers make the impact they're expected to and Karnowski regains his pre-back injury form. One of Gonzaga's transfers is Williams-Goss, a former McDonald's All-American who averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 assists at Washington his final season with the Huskies. He and Perkins are likely to both start and share point guard duties. The other transfer is Williams, who averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds at Missouri during the 2014-15 season. Williams, Karnowski and the heralded freshman Collins would form a frontcourt trio formidable enough to ease the sting from the departure of Wiltjer and Sabonis.
Key losses: F Tony Parker
Key returners: G Bryce Alford, G Aaron Holiday, G Prince Ali, G Isaac Hamilton, F Jonah Bolden, C Thomas Welsh
Notable newcomers: G Lonzo Ball, F T.J. Leaf, C Ike Anigbogu, G Kobe Paras
Outlook: One of this past season's biggest disappointments has the potential to return to national relevance next season. UCLA is expected to bring back all but one rotation player from a 15-win season and will add four coveted freshman capable of shoring up some of the holes in the roster. Chief among the additions is Ball, a point guard who this past season led his high school team to an undefeated season and a state championship in California's toughest division. The McDonald's All-American will likely be the centerpiece of a backcourt that also includes a volume shooter in Alford, a dynamic on-ball defender in Holiday and a streaky scorer in Hamilton. The addition of Leaf and Anigbogu gives UCLA's frontcourt a skilled power forward and a rim-protecting center — two things last year's team lacked. Anigbogu, in particular, could be key because this UCLA roster is loaded with players who are better scorers than defenders.
Key losses: C A.J. Hammons, G Rapheal Davis, G Kendall Stephens
Key returners: F Caleb Swanigan, F Vince Edwards, C Isaac Haas, F Basil Smotherman, F Jacquil Taylor, G Ryan Cline, G P.J. Thompson, G Dakota Mathias
Notable newcomers: G Carsen Edwards, G Spike Albrecht
Outlook: Swanigan's decision to withdraw from the NBA draft on Wednesday instantly elevates expectations for Purdue. Now the Boilermakers can play the same brand of big basketball in its frontcourt that carried them to the NCAA tournament a year ago. Hammons was Purdue's best player last season, but the Boilermakers have ample size and talent to replace the all-conference center. Haas will replace Hammons at center, Swanigan will start at power forward and Smotherman will spell both of them as a third big man off the bench. You can also put Edwards' name in ink in the starting lineup at small forward, but Purdue has more questions at guard. Can the Michigan transfer Albrecht stay healthy enough to lock down the point guard position that was such a problem for Purdue last year? And are either Cline or Mathias ready to emerge as the starter at shooting guard?
17. West Virginia
Key losses: F Jonathan Holton, G JaySean Paige, F Devin Williams
Key returners: G Jevon Carter, G Daxter Miles, G Tarik Phillip, F Elijah Macon, F Nathan Adrien, F Brandon Watkins, F Esa Ahmad, G Teyvon Myers
Notable newcomers: F Maciej Bender, G James "Beetle" Bolden, F Sagaba Konate, G Chase Harler
Outlook: West Virginia seemed to be the clear-cut top challenger to Kansas in the Big 12 before Williams chose to enter the draft. The double-double threat's departure is a blow to a Mountaineers team that already must replace the perimeter scoring of Paige and the offensive rebounding of Holton. One of the few certainties for West Virginia is that Miles will start and play off ball. Carter is another likely starter, either at point guard or at shooting guard if either Bolden or Phillip force their way into the starting lineup. The key to West Virginia's season could be whether Macon can gain the consistency he lacked last season and the promising Ahmad can make a jump between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Macon tapered off late this past season and Ahmad spent much of the season trying to get comfortable in Huggins' pressing scheme and only started to make strides on offense down the stretch.
Key losses: G Sterling Gibbs, F Shonn Miller, F Phillip Nolan, G Omar Calhoun, G Daniel Hamilton
Key returners: G Jalen Adams, G Rodney Purvis, C Amida Brimah, F Kentan Facey, F Steven Enoch
Notable newcomers: G Terry Larrier, F Juwan Durham, F Vance Jackson, G Alterique Gilbert, F Mamadou Diarra, Christian Vital
Outlook: Four of the seven Huskies who played at least nine minutes in their NCAA tournament finale are gone, yet UConn has a chance to be better than it was last season. The return of Brimah, Purvis and Adams and the arrival of a promising freshman class should help offset the departure of Hamilton to the NBA draft. UConn's strength defensively should be its frontcourt, which is highlighted by the shot-blocking Brimah, veteran Facey and Larrier, a highly touted VCU transfer who sat out all of last season. In the backcourt, Adams and Purvis will be pushed by freshmen Gilbert and Vital. Last season, UConn had to win the American Athletic Conference tournament to assure itself an NCAA bid. The Huskies have enough talent and experience not to cut it so close in 2017.
19. Rhode Island
Key losses: G Four McGlynn, C Earl Watson
Key returners: F Hassan Martin, G E.C. Matthews, G Jarvis Garrett, G Jared Terrell, F Kuran Iverson, G Christion Thompson, F Nicola Akele
Notable newcomers: F Stanford Robinson, F Mike Layssard Jr, G Jeff Dowtin, C Michael Tertsea, F Cyril Langevine
Outlook: It's easy to see why Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley resisted the temptation of accepting an offer from Rutgers this offseason. Hurley has a team at Rhode Island that's formidable enough to win the Atlantic 10, end the Rams' NCAA tournament drought and perhaps even advance a round or two. The biggest reason for optimism for Rhode Island is the return of Matthews, an all-conference guard who tore his ACL in the Rams' season opener last November. They'll also get back Martin, a defensive standout who missed the final month of last season with a knee injury. With those two back, last year's breakout stars Garrett and Terrell also returning and the Indiana transfer Robinson set to arrive, Rhode Island is well positioned heading into next season. Only another barrage of injuries could prevent the Rams from returning to national relevance.
Key losses: F Robert Carter, F Jake Layman, C Diamond Stone, G Rasheed Sulaimon
Key returners: G Melo Trimble, G Jared Nickens, G Dion Wiley, F Damonte Dodd, C Michal Cekovsky
Notable newcomers: G Anthony Cowan, G Kevin Huerter, F Micah Thomas, F L.G. Gill, F Justin Jackson
Outlook: Had Trimble decided to stay in the NBA draft, Maryland would have been in rebuilding mode with all five starters gone from last year's Sweet 16 team. Trimble instead waited until the dying hours of deadline day before announcing he was withdrawing from the draft, giving him a chance to solidify himself as a first-round pick next season and giving the Terps a star point guard to build around. The wealth of experienced talent surrounding Trimble last season is gone, but Maryland's cupboard is far from empty. The heralded Cowan will ease the pressure on Trimble by providing a second capable ball handler. Nickens, Wiley and Huerter should all see ample playing time at wing. Questions abound in the frontcourt, but Maryland will probably rely on Gill, a Duquesne graduate transfer to help fill the void left by Carter at power forward, while Dodd and Cekovsky team up to fortify the interior.
Others worthy of consideration: Cal, Creighton, Dayton, Florida State, Miami, NC State, Pittsburgh, Saint Mary's, San Diego State, Syracuse, Texas A&M, USC, Virginia Tech
- - - - - - -
Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter!