CHICAGO -- At the NBA Draft Combine this season, there were 16 players who declared for the draft but have not hired an agent, giving them the opportunity to decide to return to school by May 25.
Some of those players are much better prospects than others, and have already decided to keep their name in the draft. Others have already decided to return to school. But a majority of these players still have not made a final call yet.
Here is a quick rundown on all 16 of those players. It discusses how they performed at the combine, what we know about their intentions, and whether or not they're likely to stay or go.
Cheick Diallo | C | Kansas (No. 31): Diallo decided after performing well at the combine that he is off to the NBA. No one helped himself as much at the event as the big man from Mali, as he's now considered a strong possibility to be a first round pick. Here are a few more details on that call.
Ben Bentil | PF | Providence (No. 34): Bentil still has not made a call on whether or not he'll turn pro. He helped himself at the combine by confirming some of the notions about his measurements, coming in at over 6-foot-8 in shoes with a 7-1.5 wingspan. Then, he played relatively well in the scrimmages, putting up 15 points, 11 rebounds and three assists on Thursday then 17 points and six rebounds on Friday. Bentil told me after that game on Thursday that he's getting good feedback in terms of his stock, and that he'll wait until the end to make a decision on staying in the draft. I'd peg his draft stock anywhere from No. 20 to No. 40 or so right now, which puts him right in that cut-off point for where the choice gets tricky.
Chinanu Onuaku | C | Louisville (No. 39): Onuaku had a good combine performance, measuring well at 6-10 in shoes to pair with a near 7-3 wingspan. In the game settings, he also showed well, scoring in double figures in each outing and providing the type of defensive and rebounding presence that teams will be looking for from him if they are to select him. Onuaku said he'd "like to know" if he's a first round pick before declaring while in Chicago, but that basically stands for everyone in his position at this point. He'd have a solid chance of being selected there, but by no means would be a sure thing. He seemed to be genuinely pretty torn in regard to his decision at this stage at the combine, although his coach has a different view on the matter. On the radio on Monday, Louisville's Rick Pitino announced that Onuaku will undergo a minor heart procedure -- likely something that was uncovered during the NBA's extensive medical testing -- but that he is likely to stay in the draft at this point. This is something Pitino has done in the past in that he'll announce what players' intentions are before the player. Sometimes he's right (like in the case of Terry Rozier last year), sometimes he's wrong (like in the case of Montrezl Harrell as a sophomore). Given the Pitino statement, I'd say this one is probably almost done in favor of him leaving, but I wouldn't discount the potential that something arises in the surgery and brings him back.
Isaiah Whitehead | SG | Seton Hall (No. 42): Whitehead is one of the more polarizing prospects at this stage in the process. Some teams really like his scoring and court vision, others don't see him as much of a prospect due to his lack of explosiveness and decision-making. At the combine this week, he showed all of those aspects of his game, both good and bad. Given that it only takes one team to select him, that means Whitehead could hear his name called in the first round. But he also could have a bit lower of a floor than many of the other top 50 prospects on this list, as well, due to the wide range of opinions. Whitehead said in a note on Twitter on Sunday that he will make his final decision on Thursday. Most people around the league feel he is going to declare that he is staying in the draft, but Whitehead himself said at the combine he was not yet sure. His stock is anywhere in the No. 20 to No. 60 range, which reflects the wide nature of possibilities for him.
Malachi Richardson | SG | Syracuse (No. 45): Richardson has decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft, and will sign with Andy Miller of ASM Sports for his agency. Richardson did not participate in 5-on-5. He confirmed his terrific measurements at 6-6 with a 7-0 wingspan, and tested relatively well athletically. Here's a bit more on his decision.
Jaron Blossomgame | SF | Clemson (No. 49): Blossomgame really helped himself at the combine, testing well with a 41-inch vertical leap then measuring out well at over 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan. Then in the games, Blossomgame showed off many of the skills that make him a sought-after prospect. He knocked down a few 3-pointers, showed the ability to attack off the catch and get to the rim, and also provided some nice defensive versatility for teams. He'll have an outside shot at getting into the first round at this point based on that skill set, however it's still far from a sure thing. Blossomgame said that if he's hearing he's somewhere in the No. 25 to 40 range, he'll likely stay in the draft. However, if he's seen as more of a late second rounder, he'll probably head back to Clemson. Given that he's kind of right in the middle of that area, this is a situation that's a bit too close to call right now. Blossomgame has workouts this week, with his final scheduled one currently coming on the 24th in Phoenix. Look for him to take it down to the wire.
Malik Newman | G | Mississippi State (No. 51): Newman had a rather nondescript combine performance, neither elevating nor hurting himself in the process. He mostly just blended into the 5-on-5 sessions, performed at a very average level in the athletic testing, and showed the same measurement hindrances we knew about going in. Overall, he told me he's "working and training as if I'm entering the NBA Draft," but that he's also still willing to return to school to work on his game if he doesn't quite get the feedback that he wants from NBA teams. My read is that he's not going to get the feedback he desires from NBA teams, meaning he might be best off returning to Mississippi State and trying to make it work in a system that didn't seem to accentuate his skill set all that often this season. However, it's worth noting two factors. First, Ben Howland's players do tend to take a nice leap from their freshman to sophomore seasons. Two, Newman will have much more talent around him than he had this year. Finally, he might be able to boost himself if he can stay healthy, unlike this past year. Returning would seem to be the more practical option in terms of his stock, but this one is still not done.
Pascal Siakam | PF | New Mexico State (No. 57): Siakam did at the combine exactly what he did all season at New Mexico State. On Thursday, he had 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, then on Friday he had eight points and 10 rebounds. Basically, he's a high-energy, high-motor guy who can occasionally step back and knock down a jumper as well as defend, and there's a place for that in the NBA. He said to me that he's not "just testing the waters," and that he's "going through the process with the mindset of making an NBA roster." Given that he's already 22, that his head coach left in the offseason, that he measured extremely well with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and that he performed well at the combine, I would guess that he's going to stay in the draft. That's just an educated guess based on the situation though, and nothing has been confirmed at this time.
Melo Trimble | PG | Maryland (No. 65): Trimble had a really rough go of it at the combine. He measured poorly, and didn't perform nearly as well as expected in the games. Trimble admitted that it was his plan to go pro after this season when it started, but that things haven't necessarily gone as anticipated over the last few months. He said that if the new rule was not in place, he likely would not have tested his stock at all and simply just stayed in school. Now though, he's one foot in and one foot out, and it's thrown him for a bit of a loop. Even though he didn't have the best time in Chicago, he was coming off of what he described as a great workout for the Clippers in Los Angeles. He said he's still genuinely undecided at this point, but my read on the situation is that he's not going to quite receive the feedback he's looking for. It would behoove him to return and rebuild his stock at Maryland next season, something that is entirely possible.
Nigel Hayes | PF | Wisconsin (No. 68): Hayes also did not perform well at the combine. In the scrimmages, he mostly just floated into the background, only taking five shots over two games. He just didn't distinguish himself in any way, and noted as such on Thursday by saying that he felt he wasn't quite aggressive enough. When Hayes said that he would go through this process, he did so noting that his "plan is to come back" to Wisconsin. Given that he's unlikely to quite get the feedback that he's looking for and that he's one of the more self-aware athletes in college hoops, it would be a surprise if Hayes keeps his name in the draft at this point. He can return and help his cause next season.
Josh Hart | SG | Villanova (No. 70): Hart performed solidly in the athletic testing, and posted somewhat low measurements in terms of length, as was expected. In the 5-on-5 though, he really struggled to assert himself in any way offensively, only scoring six points over the two games. Simply, he's not the most athletic guy, not the best ball-handler, and isn't the most accurate shooter at this stage. He's average at all three aspects on that end, but he gets around that in college by playing hard all the time, being a killer defender and terrific rebounder. If he returns and diversifies his game a bit on the offensive end, he could be next season's Malcolm Brogdon, who now has a chance to go in the first round after an All-American season. Hart says he's still undecided in terms of what he's going to do. He has workouts scheduled through May 24, and plans to go down to the deadline with his decision. Beyond saying that a first round commitment is not required for him to go pro, Hart seems genuinely torn on the choice. There's no real lean either way on this one, but it's unlikely he would go in the first round if he decides to stay in the draft.
Justin Jackson | SF | North Carolina (No. 77): Jackson withdrew his name from the NBA Draft on Monday after getting the feedback he needed to hear. In a release from the university, Jackson said that "going through the draft process this year was another step toward reaching" his goal of getting to the NBA. Had he decided to stay in the draft, he'd have been a possibility in the second round. Now that he has decided to return to North Carolina, he'll look to improve his perimeter shooting and defense in his junior season. With improvement there, he'll have a shot to go in the first round.
Troy Williams | SF | Indiana (No. 90): Williams had a rough combine, not measuring out well, not testing out to be the elite athlete many anticipated, and not performing well in the 5-on-5 settings. Simply, Williams just doesn't quite do enough well at this stage due to his poor decision making on the floor. It's difficult to say whether or not he'll return to Indiana to try to boost his stock, or stay in the draft and try to make his mark in what will almost assuredly be the D-League in Year One. Williams could return and be a key player on a good Indiana team though if he decides to stay in school. I'm just not convinced at this stage that he's going to do that, as many around the league believe he will be gone. It's unlikely he'd be selected if he stayed in the draft.
Dedric Lawson | PF | Memphis (No. 85): It's awfully difficult to hurt yourself at an event like the NBA Draft Combine. However, that's exactly what Lawson did. It's worth noting he was by far the youngest player in attendance, but he measured extremely poorly athletically, and then was entirely invisible in the 5-on-5 settings. He went from being a prospect some thought could be an interesting project to someone who really needs to return to school and continue to refine his game. It's a black mark, but not an insurmountable one if he can continue to put on strength and refine himself. Given that Lawson is so young and that his father stayed on staff at Memphis, that's the best place for him right now.
Caleb Swanigan | PF | Purdue (No. 92): Swanigan had a solid freshman season at Purdue, but his fit in the NBA has always been relatively precarious due to the nature of his game as a 6-8 rebounding center who isn't quite athletic enough to move down to the 4. Swanigan measured well in terms of wingspan, but didn't quite get the height NBA teams are looking for. Then in the athletic testing portion, he performed as poorly as expected, and the 5-on-5 showed many of the problems associated with that. He couldn't really get much off in terms of shots, and just was relatively inactive in both games. Swanigan would really be benefitted by returning to school to continue to slim down his body (he did great work in this capacity coming into the season) and refining his perimeter game through his jump shooting and passing. Whether or not that happens is up for debate at this point. Swanigan discussed at the combine how "if (the NBA) thinks you're ready, you've got to take your chance." It doesn't seem like he's angling for a first round pick or bust type of scenario here. Rather, it seemed like as long as a team gave him some assurances in terms of a future in their organization, he might take their shot. This one is a bit too difficult to read, even if the big man could really help himself by returning.
Marcus Lee | PF | Kentucky (No. 111): Lee was not at all impressive at the combine. He was skinnier than anticipated, did not test as well athletically as could have been expected, and then also struggled in the 5-on-5 session. Not only did Lee not make his presence known on defense -- a place that could be his calling card in the NBA -- he really struggled on offense. A raw player on that end of the floor, Lee did not play within himself and tried to do more than he is capable of. Simply, Lee didn't make a great impression on scouts, and is now in a tough position. Lee told ESPN a couple of weeks ago that he would like to keep his name in the draft, stating that it's not about where he's picked in the draft, but rather "finding the team that is the right fit and wants me to develop in their system." He also said on Thursday at the combine that he's likely to keep his name in the draft. But then on the following Tuesday, sources told SNY.tv that Lee is canceling workouts, a sign that he may be returning after a substandard combine. If he just cares about development, he'll be able to find a D-League team and organization that is certainly willing to develop him. I just don't think he's going to find an NBA team to invest a draft pick in him, though. Returning to college might be a good plan, but then again he likely won't receive more minutes next season due to Kentucky's recruiting class of Bam Adebayo and Wenyen Gabriel. This one is totally up in the air at this point after almost assuredly seemingly like it was done two weeks ago.