I know we’re all busy with Wisconsin week, but it’s time for some basketball news.
In case you missed this development, college basketball players can now declare for the NBA Draft without losing their NCAA eligibility so long as they withdraw from the draft by a certain date. This allows them the freedom to actually get an accurate assessment of their potential value before they make a life-altering decision.
The NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 23rd at 7:00 central time. The deadline to withdraw your name and preserve NCAA eligibility is today, Wednesday May 31st at 10:59 PM Central time.
The San Antonio Spurs are a mortal lock to spend the first overall pick on French phenomenon Victor Wembanyama. ESPN believes Charlotte will use the second pick on Alabama‘s Brandon Miller despite the amount of trouble Ja Morant is in for merely flashing a gun on Instagram Live. Nevertheless, the noted late-night murder weapon deliveryman has tremendous upside as a forward-sized player with guard skills that can score from anywhere.
I’m not here to go through all that, though. The decision deadline has huge implications for several Big Ten teams, and we’re going to use this article to track them.
The following schools have no delcared players: Minnesota, Wisconsin.
Senior guard Hakim Hart may still withdraw his name from the NBA draft (I can’t find a single mock that has him close to draftable), but he definitely won’t return to Maryland as he transferred to Villanova in the meantime.
The only drama with the Huskers is senior Kesei Tominaga, whose decision is expected to take all day today. It would be a real surprise if he got drafted at this point, so his decision depends on just what he found out in his workouts with NBA teams. I’m leaning towards Tominaga staying at Nebraska for another year; he stands to raise his profile substantially if he can shoot the Huskers into the tournament.
Penn State is basically starting over as Myles Dread, Andrew Funk and Cam Wynter are out of eligibility, as is leading man Jalen Pickett. Seth Lundy is foregoing his final year of eligibility for the draft. I’ve seen a mock with Pickett near the end of the 58-pick draft and a CBS “Big Board” lists Lundy as the 64th best prospect, so given that Lundy should have a shot at a UDFA/G-league contract, I don’t expect him to withdraw to play for a new head coach.
While many expected senior center Hunter Dickinson to declare for the draft, he instead transferred to Kansas. Instead, two freshmen from Michigan declared, including the head coach’s son Jett Howard. He and Kobe Bufkin are expected mid-first rounders.
The implications of this exodus are a separate discussion topic, but Michigan fans shouldn’t expect to hear either of them have a change of heart today.
It’s pretty safe to say that junior forward Kris Murray, who has been mocked anywhere from #24 to #14 overall in recent weeks, is not coming back. Can Iowa pull another omniscorer out of their ass next year?
Following a disappointing snub from the NCAA Tournament, Rutgers lost Caleb McConnell to exhausted eligibility. However, guard Paul Mulcahy and forward Cliff Omoruyi also declared for the draft, forgoing one and two years of eligibility. Neither has cracked a mock draft, but Omoruyi showed out well at the combine and team workouts. I would expect Omoruyi to stay in the draft, but as Mulcahy didn’t have as much success with the process, I’d expect him to return to The ‘Gers and continue never winning in Champaign.
While he could technically choose to pursue a seventh year, it seems that forward Justice Sueing will instead move on. He’s not going to be drafted, but it seems that he’s ready to open a new chapter regardless.
Freshman Brice Sensabaugh is projected as a mid first rounder and there’s been no indication that he has any second thoughts.
Super-Duper Senior Joey Hauser may have a path to a seventh year of eligibility but has never wavered on being done with college basketball following MSU’s run to the Sweet 16. The Spartans are, however, waiting on decisions from sophomore guard Jaden Akins and junior guard A.J. Hoggard. Neither are projected as draft picks, and Hoggard wasn’t even invited to the combine. Having some experience in the backcourt would make Michigan State an early frontrunner for next year’s league title. I expect both to return to MSU, but I’m not sure why it’s taking so long.
The Basketcats made their second ever NCAA Tournament appearance this year, led by senior guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige. Both have a year left, and both put their names in the draft pool. Buie announced in early May that he would return for one more season of the thrill of home crowds, sometimes exceeding 1,500, cheering his name.
Audige, despite not being invited to the combine, has yet to withdraw. The defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has the rest of today to weigh his options. Like the MSU guys, I would expect him to return but I’m not sure what’s taking so long.
Indiana has two players in the draft. Freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino is pretty unanimously considered a mid-first round pick, while all-time leading scorer Trayce Jackson-Davis has been mocked late in the first round to the early second. While TJD could return, he has broken the all-time scoring record and legitimized head coach Mike Woodson, and with a first round grade at the age of 23 it’s time for him to make some money. Neither of those players is coming back.
Illinois is actually watching three players (the masochists among Illini fans are watching a fourth player, former Illini Brandin Podziemski) that could affect their upcoming season dramatically. Guard Terrence Shannon Jr powered them to several key victories including against UCLA in Las Vegas, and center/forward Coleman Hawkins led the team in assists as he was clearly the heart and soul of the team down the stretch. Matthew Mayer is out of eligibility, but his unbelievable skill at getting fouled shooting a three should earn him a roster spot wherever James Harden plays.
Shannon performed well enough at the combine to sneak into the end of the second round of a lot of mock drafts, and in my opinion that will be enough to cement his decision to say in the draft. Hawkins has NBA upside as an athletic 6’10” forward with a long wingspan, a capable three point shot, good hands and surprising passing ability and court vision. He will turn 22 in December and shows up late in some mock drafts and just off the end of the list on others. A refined and consistent Hawkins that can eliminate the erratic elements from his game could definitely go in the first round, but there’s also risk in using another year of your 20’s in college. I think there’s enough draft juice to convince Hawkins to stay in the draft.
Illinois is also watching Toledo guard RayJ Dennis, who is in both the draft and the transfer portal. Illinois has been seen as a favorite to land his services, which they sorely need after losing all of their point guards again. He’s not projected to be drafted but his recruitment has been anything but predictable.
Reigning AP National Player of the Year Zach Edey is the reason you clicked this article. As of its publication, his name remains in the draft. As a 7 foot 4 big man whose game is purely in the post, he’s a product of a bygone era in the NBA…but he’s SO GOOD at doing that particular thing. Rudy Gobert and Andre Drummond continue to start NBA games.
It’s unclear what Edey will do at this point. While Purdue won the Big Ten title last year, they also suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Edey just turned 21 and it’s unclear what more he can add to his game at this point. He’s never going to be an athletic ball-handling shooter like Wembanyama. Some mock drafts have him as a late second-rounder and others have him nowhere on the board.
I have no idea what he’ll do. I don’t know how he can improve his stock by staying another year, but he certainly could destroy it with an injury. Does that loss to Fairleigh-Dickinson leave a bad enough taste in his mouth to risk it? Stay tuned!
What do you think? Who stays? Who goes? Sound off in the comments.