NBA Draft deadline winners/losers
Kentucky could've, in theory, lost eight underclassmen to the NBA Draft. But the Wildcats only lost two, which is big news for UK and bad news for the rest of the SEC. Meantime, poor Missouri.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft came and went Sunday, at which point some college coaches got their first good nights of sleep in a month because now they know, for the most part, the players they will and will not coach next season.
So which programs benefitted from the decisions of underclassmen?
And which programs were hurt?
Here's a breakdown of the NBA Draft's early entry deadline winners and losers ...
THREE DRAFT DEADLINE WINNERS
The Wildcats entered this offseason with eight prospects who could've reasonably declared for the NBA Draft, but only two of them (Julius Randle and James Young) actually did, which is a better outcome for UK than most predicted. As recently as early March, almost nobody thought Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison or Willie Cauley-Stein would return for another year of college, but each is returning for another year of college, and the result means UK will -- you ready for this? -- have nine McDonald's All-Americans on its roster, and either nine or 10 dudes (depending on what you think of Tyler Ulis) who project as NBA players someday. Needless to say, that's why the Wildcats will be No. 1 in all reputable preseason rankings -- because they have tons of talent and enough experience to avoid the early speed bumps they endured last season before marching to the national title game.
Frank Kaminsky was mostly awesome in the NCAA Tournament -- so much so that the 7-foot junior could've entered the NBA Draft and possibly been selected somewhere in the first round, which would've guaranteed millions of dollars. Same goes for Sam Dekker. But both Kaminsky and Dekker decided to delay their pro careers, and now Wisconsin is a nice pick to make the Final Four again thanks to a roster that's talented and experienced, and a coach who is plenty equipped to maximize the Badgers' talented and experienced roster.
Rick Pitino wasn't shy when he and I sat together at an AAU event in July and discussed the future of Montrezl Harrell. The Hall of Fame coach told me, pretty directly, that he only expected to coach the 6-foot-8 forward one more season because Harrell was so talented that he'd be a first-round pick after a single year of starting. Turns out, Pitino was both right and wrong. Harrell was talented enough to be a first-round pick after a single year of starting, but he still opted against entering the NBA Draft in a development that should have the Cardinals at or near the top of the ACC standings.
THREE DRAFT DEADLINE LOSERS
It became obvious as the season unfolded that Nik Stauskas, on his way to earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors, would declare for the NBA Draft, and he did. But Michigan fans held out hope that Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary would return to Ann Arbor for at least one more year. As you surely know by now, neither Robinson nor McGary -- the latter of whom was ruled ineligible at Michigan for all of next season anyway -- is returning despite the reality that both could easily slip into the second round. Consequently, the Wolverines should start the season unranked when they could've been No. 1 or No. 2 with Stauskas, Robinson and McGary joining Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr.
There's nothing too unique about a program losing three underclassmen to the NBA Draft in the same year, but it's a fairly rare occurrence when none of the three are guaranteed lottery picks, which is why Bruins coach Steve Alford must privately be frustrated. Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams all declared for early entry, and Adams did it even though he'll almost certainly be a second-round pick. Making things worse is that Adams did it after previously announcing that he'd actually return to UCLA, and, as Ben Howland will tell you, that's one of the difficult things about coaching in Los Angeles, how there are agents everywhere constantly trying to entice second-round picks to turn pro.
Whether losing coach Frank Haith to Tulsa is a good or bad thing is up for debate and will ultimately be determined by how Haith's replacement does. But there's no way to spin losing juniors Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson into good things. Both entered the NBA Draft despite it being unlikely that either will be selected in the first round, and now the Tigers will be picked near the bottom of the SEC or, at least, nowhere near the top.
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