Following weeks of pre-draft preparation for 2022 NBA prospects -- including private workouts, G League Elite camp and the the NBA Draft Combine -- underclassmen in the draft were met Wednesday with the NCAA's withdrawal deadline, and boy oh boy did it produce some late drama.
There was plenty of movement throughout the day with KU getting both Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar Jr. out of the draft, Michigan losing both Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan, and Gonzaga getting back Julian Strawther. But the action continued late into the evening as Duke's Trevor Keels and Gonzaga's Drew TImme took their decisions down to the wire.
Here's a rundown of the seven decisions everyone was watching -- and the impact of their choices.
Diabate's Decision: Remaining in NBA Draft | Houstan's decision: Remaining in NBA Draft
Michigan convinced big man Hunter Dickinson to return for 2022-23 and had momentum to potentially have a star-studded returning cast with Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate on the fence and testing the draft waters, but both Houstan and Diabate in the final hours opted to remain in the draft.
There had been buzz for weeks that Houstan may be leaning in this direction after he declined an invite to the NBA Draft Combine, with rumors rocking around that he may have a promise late in the first round. But Diabate was a true 50/50 call. He had a strong month leading up to the withdrawal deadline that may have helped make the decision for him a touch easier. Nonetheless, huge losses for Michigan.
Decision: Returning to school
Murray was one of two combine invites who declined to attend -- along with the aforementioned Houstan -- with speculation stemming from that decision swarming that he may be returning to Iowa.
That speculation ended Wednesday as he announced his plans to return to Iowa for a junior season.
"These past two months have been a tremendous learning process for me," he said. "By going through the NBA draft process, I believe that it will help me in the long run and this coming season at Iowa."
Murray had a solid sophomore season with the Hawkeyes this past season emerging from a bit player to a rotation player and has physical tools and game to eventually be considered a first-rounder. But returning to school always seemed like the best, most obvious decision for him. One more season in college could allow him to prove to NBA teams his value in an expanded role, which he'll likely get with brother Keegan leaving for a spot likely in this year's lottery.
Strawther's decision: Returning to school | Timme's decision: Returning to school
Gonzaga is losing Chet Holmgren but got two big retention wins Wednesday when guard Julian Strawther and big man Drew Timme announced on social media their plans to return to Spokane next season. Strawther was the player between he and teammate Drew Timme who had the biggest decision to make given his prospects as a potential first-round selection. After averaging nearly 12 points and shooting 36.5% from 3-point range he profiled as a potential NBA role player. Coming back to school will likely have him as a projected first-rounder for 2023.
Timme's decision was less clear. While he didn't project as a first-rounder, he has more or less proven everything he can at the college level, which would've made the decision to turn pro a rational one. In returning he may arguably be the most recognizable name in college hoops, which holds plenty of appeal as players cash in on NIL deals.
Decision: Remaining in NBA Draft
Keels on Wednesday opted to remain in the NBA Draft instead of returning to college and potentially becoming the No. 1 option for a top-10 Duke team in 2022-23. Coming off a solid freshman season, he was reportedly torn about his decision down to the final hours, but the potential to be a first round pick -- even with the appeal of being a marketable name on the most marketable team in college hoops -- was obviously too tough to pass up. He could go anywhere in this draft between 20 and 40, and while I think most suspected an extra year in college would have done him well, he'll have plenty of interest as a strong, well-built wing with strong defensive chops and scoring potential.
Decision: Remaining in NBA Draft
The draft range on Arizona's Dalen Terry is increasingly one of the more tougher-to-pin than almost any prospect in this draft. Could be a top-20 pick, could go outside the top 40 and neither would surprise me. Either way, he announced on Tuesday he is forgoing his remaining college eligibility and staying in the draft.
Terry was great in his role with the Wildcats last season as a role player who rebounded, nailed 3-pointers and carried a small burden as a playmaker. But Arizona was loaded last season. The production we saw was overall pretty limited, even if he made 37 starts in 37 games. (That's what can happen when you play next to two potential first-rounders.) Nonetheless, teams are going to be falling over themselves hoping to take a shot on a young wing who can make shots and still has tons of untapped potential.