College basketball's winners and losers from the NBA draft declaration period

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Tyus Battle reportedly will return to Syracuse, a huge boost for the Orange next season. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Tyus Battle reportedly will return to Syracuse, a huge boost for the Orange next season. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

College basketball’s murky 2018-19 national title picture should become a lot clearer by Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

That’s the deadline for when early-entry prospects who have not signed with an agent must decide if they’re staying in the NBA draft or not.

Below is a look at the winners and losers from that process so far. This list will be updated throughout the day on Wednesday as more key decisions trickle in.

Winner: Syracuse

Prospects who returned to school: G Tyus Battle

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Instead of gambling that he could crack the first round of the NBA draft next month, Syracuse star Tyus Battle is hoping to leave no doubt next year. He reportedly decided Wednesday that he will return to school for his junior year, a development that should elevate the Orange in the ACC and national pecking order. With Battle back in the fold, Syracuse will return all five starters from a team that snuck into the NCAA tournament and then made a surprise run to the second weekend. The Orange also will welcome a strong freshman class that will provide more depth and firepower, likely ensuring that Battle won’t have to shoulder so great a load. More help could go a long way in aiding Battle’s quest to boost his stock next spring. Battle shot sub-40 percent from the field as a sophomore and tallied more turnovers than assists, but he should be able to be more judicious picking his spots next season.

Winner: Gonzaga

Prospects who returned to school: F Rui Hachimura, F Killian Tillie, G Zach Norvell

Prospects who turned pro early: None

The highest Gonzaga has ever been ranked in the preseason poll was No. 8 entering Adam Morrison’s junior season in 2005. The Zags may surpass that next fall after none of the highly touted members of their young core even bothered to test the waters this spring. Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell each chose to return to school in hopes of solidifying themselves as first-round picks next season while also leading Gonzaga to a second Final Four in three years. The return of Hachimura, Tillie and 7-footer Jacob Larsen and the arrival of San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke and polished freshman Filip Petrusev gives Gonzaga one of the nation’s premier frontcourts. The backcourt is experienced, though the Zags could use another playmaker to emerge in support of senior point guard Josh Perkins.

Loser: Villanova

Prospects who returned to school: None

Prospects who turned pro early: G Jalen Brunson, G Mikal Bridges, G Donte DiVincenzo, F Omari Spellman

While Villanova had been preparing for months to lose national player of the year Jalen Brunson and projected lottery pick Mikal Bridges, the Wildcats until recently could not have seen the other two departures coming. Donte DiVincenzo announced Tuesday that he was remaining in the NBA draft on the heels of his jaw-dropping national title game performance. Omari Spellman followed suit on Wednesday, gambling that there is a place in the NBA for a 6-foot-9 big man who spaces the floor, rebounds and protects the rim. The loss of those four standouts is a massive blow for Villanova. The Wildcats will start next season without their four leading scorers from a team that went 36-4 and won all six of its NCAA tournament games by double figures. Villanova is probably still the favorite to win the Big East and a likely preseason top 12 team, but no longer should the Wildcats be considered a frontrunner to capture a third national title in four years.

Winner: Nevada

Prospects who returned to school: G Cody Martin, G Caleb Martin, F Jordan Caroline

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Less than one hour before Wednesday night’s deadline for prospects to withdraw from the NBA draft, Nevada fans were still frantically refreshing their social media timelines to find out whether two of the Wolf Pack’s best players would return for their senior seasons. Turns out the Martin twins’ decision was worth the delay. Caleb and Cody Martin waited until almost 11:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night before announcing they intend to withdraw from the draft and play one last season together at Nevada. Their return cements the Wolf Pack as a preseason top 10 team and ramps up the buzz for what was already indisputably the most anticipated basketball season in school history. Nevada now brings back five of its seven rotation players from last season’s team that won a school-record 29 games, captured the Mountain West title and advanced to the Sweet 16. The Wolf Pack also add the second McDonald’s All-American in program history and a slew of accomplished transfers who should provide the depth coach Eric Musselman lacked a year ago.

To be decided: Kentucky

Prospects who returned to school: F P.J. Washington

Prospects who turned pro early: G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G Hamidou Diallo, F Kevin Knox, F Jarred Vanderbilt, F Wenyen Gabriel

For a program that lost five freshman to the NBA draft, three of whom aren’t even locks to be selected, Kentucky can’t be altogether unhappy with how things turned out. The Wildcats brought back one key frontcourt piece when forward P.J. Washington withdrew from the draft on Wednesday. They may also have made room to add another if coveted Stanford grad transfer Reid Travis comes aboard later this offseason. Whether Kentucky adds Travis to its frontcourt will determine if it emerges as a draft declaration period winner or loser. A skilled 6-foot-8 power forward with the physique of an NFL tight end, Travis averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds this past season. Not only would he provide interior scoring and rebounding for Kentucky, he also would bring much-needed experience and leadership to a young roster.

Winner: UCLA

Prospects who returned to school: F Kris Wilkes, G Jaylen Hands, F Cody Riley

Prospects who turned pro early: G Aaron Holiday

UCLA has often lost pro prospects earlier than expected during the past decade, but that was not the case this year. Forward Kris Wilkes and guard Jaylen Hands both opted to withdraw from the NBA draft and return for their sophomore seasons, giving the Bruins a pair of talented players around which to build. Wilkes projects as a leading candidate for Pac-12 player of the year after the versatile forward averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a freshman. Hands is capable of a big leap as a sophomore if he can limit his turnovers, shoot a higher percentage and make better decisions with the ball in his hands. With both Hands and Wilkes back in Westwood, UCLA appears to be one of the favorites in a wide-open Pac-12 next season. The Bruins lose three senior starters, but they welcome one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.

Loser: Wake Forest

Prospects who returned to school: None

Prospects who turned pro early: G Bryant Crawford, C Doral Moore

Wake Forest could have a tough time escaping the ACC’s bottom tier in coach Danny Manning’s all-important fifth season. The Demon Deacons have lost four starters from last year’s disappointing 11-20 team including NBA draft entrants Doral Moore and Bryant Crawford. Moore, an athletic 7-foot-1 junior, averaged a double-double last season in ACC play. Crawford, a skilled junior guard, led Wake Forest at 16.9 points and 4.9 assists per game last season. Neither are likely to be drafted next month or make an NBA roster next season. Without either Moore or Crawford, Wake Forest will lean heavily on returners Brandon Childress and Chaundee Brown and a large crop of newcomers that includes four freshmen and two graduate transfers. That might be enough to edge the likes of Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, but climbing much higher in the ACC standings will be tough.

Carsen Edwards should be a preseason All-American candidate after announcing Tuesday night that he’ll return to Purdue. (AP)
Carsen Edwards should be a preseason All-American candidate after announcing Tuesday night that he’ll return to Purdue. (AP)

Winner: Purdue

Prospects who returned to school: G Carsen Edwards, G Nojel Eastern

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Purdue’s chances of remaining relevant in the Big Ten next season just received an enormous boost. Big Ten player of the year candidate Carsen Edwards announced Tuesday night that he is withdrawing from the draft and returning to school. Edwards thrust himself into NBA draft consideration with a breakthrough sophomore season during which he averaged a team-high 18.5 points and earned first-team all-league honors. He’ll return as the unquestioned leader of a Purdue team that loses four key seniors yet still has enough returning talent to contend for an NCAA bid. Edwards will receive support from center Matt Haarms, Dartmouth graduate transfer Evan Boudreaux and sharpshooter Ryan Cline, among others.

Loser: Maryland

Prospects who returned to school: F Bruno Fernando

Prospects who turned pro early: F Justin Jackson, F Kevin Huerter

When Maryland fell shy of reaching the NCAA tournament last March, the silver lining was the young talent on the Terrapins’ roster. Each of Maryland’s five leading scorers had at least two years of college eligibility remaining. Some of that optimism has dimmed two months later now that two of Maryland’s top prospects have opted to stay in the NBA draft. Justin Jackson signed with an agent right away despite his stock falling after missing most of his sophomore season due to injury. Kevin Huerter announced Wednesday that he too is staying in the draft after improving his stock by showing off his passing acumen and outside shooting stroke at the NBA combine and during workouts. The result is a Maryland roster that isn’t nearly as loaded as it could have been. The Terps can still contend for an NCAA tournament bid behind a nucleus of Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando, but making a run at the Big Ten title is now likely out of the question.

Winner: Arkansas

Prospects who returned to school: F Daniel Gafford

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Arkansas might boast college basketball’s best returning NBA prospect. The high-flying Gafford likely would have been a mid-first-round pick had he opted to enter the draft. A bouncy 6-11 forward who finishes efficiently in traffic, plays with a high motor and alters shots at the rim, Gafford averaged 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 22.6 minutes per game as a freshman. Next season, he’ll be the centerpiece of a very young Arkansas team that returns only one other key rotation piece from last year. Gafford could emerge as a top 10 pick if he improves or fall to the back of the first round if he stagnates.

Loser: Stanford

Prospects who returned to school: None

Prospects who turned pro early: None (F Reid Travis withdrew from the draft but will transfer)

Reid Travis might have been the preseason Pac-12 player of the year had he remained at Stanford. The two-time first-team all-league forward instead pulled out of the NBA draft but decided to leave Palo Alto anyway as a graduate transfer. The loss drastically diminishes expectations next season for a Stanford program that is seeking only its second NCAA tournament bid since 2008. The Cardinal have some promising young talent in the program, but they’ll have a tough time replacing Travis’ 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Travis meanwhile will likely transfer to a national power. Kentucky is considered the favorite to land the former McDonald’s All-American, but reigning champion Villanova is also in the mix.

Winner: Auburn

Prospects who returned to school: G Bryce Brown, G Jared Harper, F Austin Wiley

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Auburn now has an excellent chance to challenge Kentucky and Tennessee for a share of a second straight SEC title. Three of the Tigers’ four underclassmen who entered the draft opted to return to school. Only all-SEC wing Mustapha Heron is gone for good, though he announced Tuesday that he will withdraw from the draft and transfer. A backcourt of Harper, Brown and Samir Doughty should provide ample perimeter firepower even without Heron. Wiley, a heralded recruit who did not play at all last season, should anchor Auburn’s frontcourt. Last summer, he was one of the standouts on the bronze medal-winning USA U-19 team, averaging 10.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Loser: Brian Bowen, South Carolina

As the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft approached, Brian Bowen found himself in a no-win situation. He could either stay in the NBA draft even though it’s unlikely he’d be selected or he could return to South Carolina even though it’s unlikely the NCAA would ever clear him to play college basketball. Bowen made his choice on Wednesday, opting to put college basketball in his rearview mirror and take his chances as a pro. The NCAA enabled Bowen to make a more informed decision by disclosing to the 6-foot-7 small forward that at minimum he would not be allowed to play during the 2018-19 season because of the alleged benefits his family received to entice him to sign with Louisville last summer. Bowen, of course, was the recruit at the center of the recruiting scandal that got ex-Louisville coach Rick Pitino fired last year. The FBI alleged that an Adidas executive and the Louisville staff conspired to funnel $100,000 to Bowen’s family to play at Louisville and represent the shoe-apparel giant after he turns pro.

Winner: West Virginia

Prospects who returned to school: C Sagaba Konate, F Esa Ahmad, F Lamont West

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Between the graduation of longtime stalwarts Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles and the abrupt transfer of promising sophomore Teddy Allen, West Virginia has plenty of issues to sort out in its backcourt. Luckily the Mountaineers should have no such problems in the frontcourt after shot-blocking center Sagaba Konate and standout forwards Esa Ahmad and Lamont West all returned to school. Konate will anchor West Virginia’s defense next season while trying to address concerns NBA scouts had about his conditioning and his ability to score. Ahmad made a mature decision to withdraw from the draft when his stock wasn’t as high as he had hoped, while West will take the offseason to recuperate after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist. That trio and fellow returner Wesley Harris should form one of the nation’s elite frontcourts next season.

Winner: North Carolina

Prospects who returned to school: F Luke Maye, F Cameron Johnson

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Cameron Johnson couldn’t even test the waters as a result of an ill-timed hip injury. Luke Maye pulled out of the draft last week when it became clear he likely wouldn’t be selected. The result is that North Carolina should once again be right in the mix for the preseason top five despite the graduation of backcourt standouts Theo Pinson and Joel Berry. Maye could land on some preseason All-American teams after averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season. Johnson and Kenny Williams will provide outside shooting and veteran leadership. Big, athletic wing Nassir Little is a potential top-five draft pick next spring, while guard Coby White is a scorer who could replace Berry at point guard.

Loser Texas A&M

Prospects who returned to school: G Admon Gilder

Prospects who turned pro early: F Robert Williams, F Tyler Davis, F DJ Hogg

It was a foregone conclusion that future first-round pick Robert Williams was going to enter the NBA draft this spring. That Hogg and Davis both joined him is why Texas A&M falls among this year’s losers. Hogg, a sweet-shooting 6-foot-9 stretch forward, declared for the draft and signed with an agent even though he is unlikely to be drafted next month. Davis, a skilled bruiser with a throwback low-post game, followed suit even though he lacks the perimeter game or the ability to defend away from the basket necessary to be an NBA prospect. Without that trio, Texas A&M will have to evolve into a guard-centric team built around Admon Gilder, T.J. Starks and Jay Jay Chandler. That’s a competent backcourt, but it’s unlikely to lead the Aggies back to the NCAA tournament, let alone to another Sweet 16.

Winner: Virginia

Prospects who returned to school: F DeAndre Hunter

Prospects who turned pro early: None

Virginia’s historic opening-round NCAA tournament loss to UMBC received so much attention that it’s easy to forget how good the Cavaliers were this past regular season. The Cavaliers won the outright ACC title for the third time in five years and captured the league tournament title as well. Another run at an ACC title is a realistic goal for Virginia next season thanks to DeAndre Hunter’s decision not to enter the draft. The athletic freshman guard might have been a first-round pick had he opted to turn pro this year. He’ll instead have a chance to work his way into the lottery should he continue to improve as a sophomore. Hunter provides Virginia with a versatile perimeter defender who is capable of creating his own offense. He’ll team with Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy to provide perimeter scoring, while Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt and Jay Huff will provide rebounding and rim protection.

Other winners:

Florida (Jalen Hudson), Nebraska (James Palmer, Isaac Copeland Jr.), Indiana (Juwan Morgan), St. John’s (Shamorie Ponds), Missouri (Jontay Porter), Clemson (Marquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell), Michigan (Charles Matthews) San Diego State (Jalen McDaniels) Wisconsin (Ethan Happ)

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!