College basketball's draft declaration winners and losers

College basketball's draft declaration winners and losers

The landscape for next year's college basketball season became a bit clearer Sunday night when the NBA's early-entry deadline passed.

Forty-five players have announced their intention to forgo their remaining college eligibility and declare for the draft. A handful of other top prospects have opted to delay NBA riches another year and return to school to try to improve their stock.

Here's a look at which programs were hardest hit and which will begin next season in better than expected shape:


1. Maryland: Both freshman point guard Melo Trimble and junior forward Jake Layman probably would have been second-round selections had they entered the NBA draft. Their decision to return to school instead cements the Terrapins as a preseason top five team and one of the leading contenders to win the Big Ten next season. Maryland will have perhaps the Big Ten's best frontcourt next season with McDonald's All-American Diamond Stone at center, coveted Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter at power forward and Layman sliding down to his more natural small forward position. The Terps will miss the scoring, distributing and leadership of Dez Wells in the backcourt, but Trimble should be one of the nation's best scoring guards as a sophomore and Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens should absorb much of Wells' playing time.

2. Wichita State: Not long after Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall agreed to lucrative contract extension, the Shockers received more good news. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, stars of Wichita State's 30-win Sweet 16 team, both decided to return for their senior seasons. Retaining one of the nation's premier backcourt duos solidifies the Shockers as a preseason top 15 team with a chance to be even better than they were last year if the supporting cast around VanVleet and Baker proves reliable. The third perimeter player alongside VanVleet and Baker will likely either be defensive stopper Zach Brown or Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp, neither of whom are quite as versatile as graduating senior Tekele Cotton was. Undersized senior Evan Wessell will be pushed by several younger players at power forward and Shaq Morris is probably the heir apparent to Darius Carter at center.

3. Gonzaga: One of this past season's elite frontcourts will return intact next year. Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis all flirted with the idea of turning pro before opting to return to school, a decision that ensures Gonzaga will be in the preseason top 15 and gives the Zags hope of reaching their first Final Four. Even though Sabonis had a chance to be a first-round pick had he left Gonzaga after his freshman season, it was Wiltjer who most strongly considered declaring for the draft. The skilled 6-foot-9 forward already has spent four years in college and was coming off a season in which he averaged 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds, shot 46.6 percent from behind the arc and earned All-American consideration. Wiltjer ultimately announced he was returning to school last week because concerns about his poor defense made it possible he would not be drafted.

4. Providence: Had Kris Dunn chosen to declare for the NBA draft, Providence would have entered next season in rebuilding mode after losing its top four scorers from a 22-win NCAA tournament team. The Friars instead will retain their star point guard one more season, giving them a likely preseason All-American to build around and making them a threat to finish in the upper echelon of the Big East. Dunn's decision to return to school was among the most surprising of any player given his draft stock and his injury history (two previous right shoulder surgeries). He might have gone as high as the late lottery in this draft after a season in which he averaged 15.6 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds. Dunn can solidify himself as a lottery pick next season if he cuts down his turnovers and improves his jump shot, but he also could hurt his stock if he plateaus or suffers an injury.

5. Oklahoma: The Sooners would have contended for an NCAA tournament bid had Buddy Hield turned pro, but they have a chance to accomplish something far more memorable now that the reigning Big 12 player of the year has announced he'll be back for his senior season. They will likely begin next season in the top 10 in the polls thanks to the return of four starters from last season's 24-win Sweet 16 team. They also figure to be squarely in the Big 12 title chase along with perennial favorite Kansas and potential preseason top 5 Iowa State. The catalyst for Oklahoma will be Hield, one of the highest-scoring guards in the Big 12 both of the past two seasons. The 6-foot-4 native of the Bahamas averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior, impressing NBA scouts enough that he had a chance to be a late first-round pick had he opted to enter the draft.

Other winners: Utah (retained projected first-round pick Jakob Poeltl), Indiana (retained projected second-round pick Yogi Ferrell and potential early-entry candidates Troy Williams and James Blackmon), Michigan (retained potential late first-round pick Caris LeVert), Cal (retained potential early-entry candidate Tyrone Wallace), Notre Dame (retained potential early-entry candidates Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste), North Carolina (lost forward J.P. Tokoto to the draft but retained Justin Jackson, Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and Kennedy Meeks), Georgetown (retained star guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera after he initially declared for the draft).


1. UNLV: In Dave Rice's four-year tenure as UNLV coach, constant roster turnover has been a huge impediment. Seven of the Rebels' nine rotation players from their 2012-13 NCAA tournament team did not return the following year. Five of UNLV's top eight players from a disappointing 2013-14 team were not back last year. Now Rice will have to endure more of the same this offseason after leading scorers Rashad Vaughn and Christian Wood both entered the NBA draft. Vaughn, a freshman shooting guard, is a projected second-round pick, while Wood, a sophomore forward, has a chance to go late in the latter half of the first round if he impresses during pre-draft workouts. The timing of those departures could be especially damaging for Rice. He needs a bounce-back season after failing to reach the postseason both of the past two years.

2. Virginia: The costliest departure any team endured may have been Virginia losing possible late first-round pick Justin Anderson. The Cavaliers might have been the preseason No. 1 team in the nation next fall had Anderson returned to school, but they'll instead enter the season with some question marks after losing their second-leading scorer. Virginia was a fixture in the top five in the polls for most of this past season until Anderson suffered a fractured pinkie in February. The Cavaliers never really recovered from his absence because their methodical but efficient offense suddenly lacked enough perimeter shooters and became too reliant on Malcolm Brogdon to create off the dribble. Virginia missed more shots and committed more turnovers without Anderson, creating more transition opportunities for their opponents and reducing the effectiveness of their formidable defense. The fate of 2015-16 Virginia now depends on other perimeter scorers emerging in support of Brogdon to avoid a repeat of the final month of this past season.

3. NC State: All the elements were in place for a special 2015-16 campaign for NC State until its leading scorer made an unexpected decision. Trevor Lacey opted to forgo his final season with the Wolfpack and enter the NBA draft even though there is probably a better chance he goes unselected than that he is taken in the second round. The departure of Lacey will force returning starter Cat Barber and West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson to handle most of NC State's perimeter scoring. That duo and a solid frontcourt can take the Wolfpack back to the NCAA tournament, but a preseason top 20 ranking is probably no longer realistic, nor is contending for the ACC title. Lacey has received criticism for his decision, but he'll turn 24 in October, young by real-life standards but not for a basketball prospect. Another year in college would mean forfeiting another year of earning potential, something a lot tougher to do at 24 than at 19 or 20.

4. Florida: How many programs lose two players with eligibility remaining to the NBA draft after a sub-.500 season? How many programs lose two players with eligibility remaining to the NBA draft even though there's a good chance neither will be selected? Florida is the sole answer to both those questions after shooting guard Michael Frazier and forward Chris Walker both declared for the draft. The 6-foot-4 Frazier could get a look in the second round because of his outside shooting prowess. The 6-foot-10 Walker probably will garner a training camp invite on size and athleticism alone, but the former top 10 recruit is unlikely to be selected in the draft after a highly disappointing college career. Walker could not crack the starting lineup on a Florida team that desperately needed him to fulfill his potential this season, averaging only 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds and often looking lost on defense.

5. Kentucky: Unlike last spring when a handful of Kentucky underclassmen unexpectedly returned to school, the Wildcats lost almost every top prospect they could have. Seven standouts from this past season's 38-1 team jointly turned pro: Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Dakari Johnson. The reason Kentucky isn't higher on this list is the same reason Duke and Arizona aren't either despite losing a trio of players apiece to the NBA draft. All three of these programs recruit at a level at which they expect to lose players early every offseason and all three of these programs are well-stocked for next season in spite of the departures. Kentucky will build around point guard Tyler Ulis, frontcourt standouts Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress and a recruiting class headlined by No. 1 prospect Skal Labissiere. The Wildcats would still like to add another impact player or two this spring, but they'll crack the preseason top 5 next fall regardless.

Other losers: Arkansas (lost projected first-round pick Bobby Portis and projected second-round pick Michael Qualls), LSU (lost potential first-round pick Jarell Martin and potential second-round pick Jordan Mickey), Murray State (lost potential first-round pick Cameron Payne), Syracuse (lost likely second-round pick Chris McCullough) Eastern Washington (lost likely second-round pick Tyler Harvey), UTEP (lost potential second-round pick Vince Hunter).

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