The NBA Draft's early entry deadline for underclassmen came and went Sunday night without much noise. There were a few last-minute entries — Jahmi'us Ramsey of Texas Tech, Landers Nolley of Memphis joining the fold over the weekend (then Nolley oddly withdrawing within the same day) — but no substantial surprises in the final hour. Those that were expected to declare did indeed declare; those that were expected to return to college, for the most part, either returned or left open the possibility of doing so.
The lead-up to the declaration deadline wasn't without a few surprises though. Kentucky lost its entire starting unit. Texas got its entire starting unit back. Gonzaga -- perhaps -- could retain most of its key talent, dependent upon the feedback its top players get in the draft process. All of its eligible underclassmen have decided to test the waters, but are doing so with one toe in and one toe out.
In the wake of the deadline, there's a clear subsection of basketball that have come away as winners and losers. It's all subject to change with the final withdrawal deadline still nearly two months away, but here's where the dust has settled for now.
Winner: NBA teams needing a point guard
If you're an NBA team in this year's draft in need of an upgrade at point guard, like lottery-bound New York and Detroit, then this is a fortuitous year to be in the market. Because at the top of the draft is No. 1 prospect LaMelo Ball and No. 3 prospect Killian Hayes, at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5, respectively, with passing, playmaking and scoring chops that project to be franchise-building prospects.
The depth is immense at the position as well even beyond Ball and Hayes. Tyrese Haliburton, Tyrese Maxey, Theo Maledon and Cole Anthony are all lottery talents who can handle the position. Then, on down the board, players like Tre Jones, Kira Lewis Jr. Tyrell Terry, Cassius Winston and Devon Dotson have the talent and production in college to translate their game into early NBA playing time -- either as sure-handed backups or as developmental options with upside.
Teams in the back end of the first round and early in the second round could find significant value because of that depth, and it could play out to the benefit of teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Jazz or Heat looking either for quality backups, long-term starters, or plug-and-play options who may be a blend of both with experience at the college level on their side.
Loser: Kentucky has one scholarship player returning
Stop me if you've heard this one before: NBA Draft this offseason including big men EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards. The backcourt bolting -- Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey -- was expected. Not so much the frontcourt. UK looks thin and lean on the front line barring some major wins in the transfer market. UK's 6-7 freshman Keion Brooks has announced he's returning already, but he's the only scholarship player slated to return in 2020-21.. Shocker, right? But the one that lies ahead is especially challenging. The Wildcats lost their entire starting lineup to the
Winner: Gonzaga's 2020 prospects
Gonzaga loses Admon Gilder, Ryan Woolridge and Killian Tillie to graduation from its 31-win squad from last season, but the three key Zags testing the draft waters this year -- Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi and Filip Petrusev -- have left open the possibility of a return. If they do indeed return as we currently project they will, this team will stay strong as the No. 1 team in the and, on paper, be one of the best teams Mark Few has ever fielded.
It should get even better, too. In addition to what figures to be a promising returning core, the Bulldogs are enrolling a top-11 recruiting class led by one-and-done talent Jalen Suggs -- the highest-rated signee Gonzaga's landed since 2000, according to 247Sports.
Loser: Memphis must rebuild
When Penny Hardaway enrolled the No. 1 recruiting class last year led by No. 1 overall recruit James Wiseman, it appeared as if Memphis was on the fast track to becoming some version of the old Memphis under John Calipari. But the shine has worn off quickly. Wiseman played just three games before quitting to prepare for the draft. The team finished well outside contention of first place in the AAC. And adding insult to injury, Precious Achiuwa and Tyler Harris are leaving for the draft and for Iowa State via transfer, respectively.
None are major surprises, but the totality of each draft or transfer loss, with the lack of results thus far, is wearing for a team under Hardaway that could use some wind at its sails.
Getting Landers Nolley Jr. to commit to Memphis was a major coup for the staff that helps on that front. Getting Nolley Jr. to test the waters -- and withdraw within 24 hours -- was perhaps an even bigger one. But Nolley still likely has to sit out the 2020-21 season due to transfer rules, and the immediate outlook in Memphis could be a tough one to fully grasp for a basketball-hungry city that expected to win early and often under Penny.
Winner: Luka Garza looks like he may return to Iowa
After being passed over for national player of the year by the organizations that hand out awards, Iowa star Luka Garza declared for the draftthat may as well have read: Don't worry, Iowa, I'm coming back, baby.
"The NBA has been my dream since I started playing basketball as a kid and I'm going to do everything I can to pursue that," he said. "If it ends up not being the right time to make the move to the NBA, I'm excited about the potential of what my senior season as a Hawkeye could have in store."
Garza is not ranked on our Big Board and is expected to return next season, where he'd be the focal point for an Iowa team that will rank top-10 in the preseason. Cue up the memes, folks. All the shoulder chips!
Loser: Arizona was loaded, but didn't win big
Arizona's losing its entire starting lineup for the second time in three years. This isn't a new trend for Sean Miller. But it's surprising, if not alarming, that three of his five starters -- Josh Green, Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji -- may all go on to be first-rounders ... after going just 10-8 in a wide-open Pac-12 and finishing 21-11 overall on the season.
That's tough to comprehend. Miller had a wealth of talent in Tucson, Arizona, last season and couldn't quite fit the pieces together. It helps underscore just how tough it is to win with freshmen -- and just how badly UA underachieved last season.
Winner: The Ball family basketball lineage
LaVar Ball, the boisterous father of basketball stars Lonzo and LaMelo, has a knack for rubbing people the wrong way. But he's also called his shot and been right when the things he says out of left field don't turn out to be as farfetched as they're initially presented.
He already once spoke into existence how his eldest son, Lonzo, UCLA. Now it appears he's going to be right -- if not very, very close -- about his youngest son LaMelo being the No. 1 pick. Here's what he said last summer on ESPN, which was scoffed at until ... it wasn't.after his time at
"Melo is going to be the No. 1 pick in 2020," LaVar Ball said. "He's that good."
LaMelo Ball is currently the No. 1 overall prospect on the CBS Sports Big Board. A 6-foot-7 point guard who played last season in the NBL for the Illawarra Hawks, he's an elite passer, playmaker and facilitator who is about to make his father look especially prescient.
Loser: Bill Self's big chance is gone
Imagine being Bill Self right now. On March 7, he was the coach of a No. 1-ranked Kansas team that had won 16-straight, positioned itself for the No. 1 overall seed, and sat at 28-3 with a chance to win both the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments.
Then the entire sports world went kaput -- and the college season abruptly ended.
Self can't run 2019-20 back in 2020-21. He can't remake the team that was the odds-on favorite to win it all. And especially not now, with sophomore point guard Devon Dotson and senior Udoka Azubuike gone -- along with one of Self's best chances to win a second NCAA championship.
Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett are both returning next season and have chosen not to test the draft process, but compiling a group that was as dominant on both ends of the floor as Kansas was last season is a once-in-a-career accomplishment that Self may never have the chance to do again.
Winner: No defections for Texas
For the first time in four years -- since Shaka Smart took over -- he's not losing a player early to the NBA Draft. And it's the first time in three years he's not losing a one-and-done talent after Jarrett Allen, Mo Bamba and Jaxson Hayes bounced after one season in Austin, Texas, in back-to-back-to-back years.
So Texas returns its entire roster and adds. (Alternate headline: Texas is back, folks.)
The Longhornsfor next season and could be a real threat to win the Big 12 -- and more.