Six seniors we'll miss the most in college basketball after their careers were cut short
College basketball featured a special crop of seniors this season that the game will miss
A year after college basketball was headlined by Zion Williamson and a crop of other freshmen who were top NBA prospects playing on some of the nation's best teams, the dynamics shifted in the 2019-20 campaign.
With many of the top freshmen -- or would-be freshmen -- sitting out (James Wiseman), playing for bad teams (Cole Anthony and Anthony Edwards) or playing overseas (LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton), seniors dominated the storylines in the abbreviated 2019-20 season.
From Seton Hall's Myles Powell on the East Coast to Oregon's Payton Pritchard on the West Coast, It was a deep class full of stars with great stories. Here are a few of the college basketball seniors we'll miss most, assuming eligibility waivers are not granted that would allow them the option of returning for another year.
Cassius Winston -- Michigan State
He will go down as one of the most-beloved Spartans of all time, and that's not just because of his immense on-court contributions during his four years at Michigan State. The way Winston persevered through his brother's death this season inspired people in East Lansing, Michigan and far beyond. It was a tragedy that shook the program and provided legendary coach Tom Izzo with one of the toughest challenges of his career. But even in the midst of tragedy, Izzo managed to eventually find the balance between compassion and hard-coaching to help Winston as he led the Spartans to a share of the Big Ten title.
Udoka Azubuike -- Kansas
The Big 12 Player of the Year unleashed arguably the season's most-dominant individual performance in arguably the biggest game of the year when made 11-of-13 shots and finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds as then-No. 3 Kansas won at then-No. 1 Baylor 64-61 in February. If Kanas claims a national championship from its 28-3 season, that game will be the one that supports the case. Azubuike could not be stopped. Absent a waiver that allows him to return for another season, the 7-footer will go out with a bizarre footnote: he never played in the Big 12 Tournament. Injuries kept him out in past years. And of course, this year's event was called off before the top-seeded Jayhawks played a game.
Lamar Stevens -- Penn State
Missing out on an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament could be tough for any college basketball player who committed months of work toward making the Big Dance. But no one would fault Stevens for being especially devastated. The do-it-all Penn State forward battled for four years to get the Nittany Lions back to the tournament for the first time since 2011. Stevens was just seven points away from the school's all-time scoring record when his college career abruptly ended before Penn State's Big Ten Tournament debut. Still, the Philadelphia-native will go down as one of the program's greats after leading the Nittany Lions back into the AP Top 25 this season for the first time since1995-96.
Payton Pritchard -- Oregon
Even if seniors who were NCAA Tournament bound are granted an eligibility waiver for another season, Pritchard has made it clear he's ready to give the NBA a shot. What else is left for the Oregon guard to accomplish? He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year after averaging 20.5 points per game on 41.5% shooting from 3-point range while leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 title with a series of clutch performances. This step-back bomb in the final seconds of an overtime win at Washington in January is just one example of the moments that made Pritchard's senior season so memorable.
Markus Howard -- Marquette
Maybe it's because Marquette did not make it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Howard's two appearances. Or maybe it's because he's never been viewed as a top-flight NBA prospect. Whatever the reasoning, it feels as though Howard has been under-appreciated nationally. But it's clear that the Big East's all-time leading scorer should go down as one of the best shooters in college basketball history, and it's a shame he had a final shot at March glory prematurely cut short. Howard's career 3-point shooting percentage of 42.7% is great. But what's so impressive is that he actually improved his percentage as a senior over his previous two seasons while significantly increasing his volume of attempts. Howard ended the season as college basketball's leading scorer at 27.8 points per game and as the leader in made 3-pointers per game.
Myles Powell -- Seton Hall
Powell denied Howard a second straight Big East Player of the Year award by swooping in for the honor after leading Seton Hall to a share of the Big East title. The dynamic guard had the Pirates on the verge of appearing in a fifth straight NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history until the season's cancellation. But even without a final chance to dance, Powell will end his career third on Seton Hall's all-time scoring list and first in made 3-pointers.
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