Early Entry: Who made questionable, but understandable, decisions?

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Read through the rest of our Early Entry breakdowns here.

J’Covan Brown, Texas: Brown is never going to be a great NBA prospect. 6-foot-2 guards that are shoot-first and have a history of attitude problems aren’t exactly the NBA ideal. But Brown is coming off of a breakout season where he carried a group of Longhorn youngsters to the NCAA tournament while showing improved maturity and leadership. With a loaded perimeter attack of freshmen turning into sophomores next season and a daughter that he now needs to provide for, Brown probably made the right decision even if he doesn’t end up making the NBA.

Dominic Cheek, Villanova: Cheek surprised a lot of people with his decision to enter the NBA Draft. He struggled to find any kind of consistency at Villanova and never lived up to the hype he had coming in as a freshman. Simply put: Dominic Cheek will not be picked in the NBA Draft. So why is he leaving school? One report said he didn’t enjoy his time at Villanova anymore. Another said he had family members — his grandmother and two brothers — to provide for. Either way, Cheek knew his time as a collegian was up.

Moe Harkless, St. John’s: Harkless managed to play his way into the first round of the NBA Draft after a stellar freshman campaign with the Johnnies. He proved himself to be a versatile, play-making defender and a legitimate prospect offensively at the small forward spot. Could he have played his way into the lottery with a stellar sophomore season while leading his team to more wins? Probably. But you can’t blame a kid for taking the guaranteed money.

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard’s a potential lottery pick who just went through a thoroughly depressing sophomore campaign that resulted in his head coach being fired. That alone would be enough to convince a lot of kids to leave school. But Leonard has extenuation circumstances, as he is looking to provide for his family.

Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: I’m not convinced that Marshall is going to be a good NBA point guard, but as the saying goes, you need to strike while the iron is hot. Marshall had a sensational sophomore season and had his value to UNC proven after he injured his wrist against Creighton and the Tar Heels proceeded to look like a fifth-grade CYO team offensively. He’s a top point guard in a weak point guard class.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Tony Mitchell, North Texas; and Cody Zeller, Indiana: All three of these guys would have been first round picks had they kept their names in the draft. All three made the decision to return which, financially, was smart. All three — who happen to be heading into their sophomore years — have ceilings much higher than where they were going to be picked in this year’s draft. Coming back to school should, barring injury, net them more money in the long run.

Austin Rivers, Duke: I have my doubts in regards to Rivers’ as an NBA prospect. I’m probably not alone in that regard. But he is the son of Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, which probably means that he got all of the information he needed to make a decision.

Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, Washington: Ross and Wroten are both so talented. If they had gone back and spent another season at Washington, the Huskies probably would have found themselves in the conversation with Arizona and UCLA as a favorite in the Pac-12 next season. The issue is that both players have holes in their game. Ross isn’t as assertive as he needs to be and Wroten can be too assertive, to the point of being, in professional terms, a ball-hogging turnover machine. They are both going to be first round picks this season based on their potential this season. That’s worth leaving for.

Dion Waiters, Syracuse: To be frank, I’m still not sold on this being the correct decision for Waiters. He showcased the kind of talent this season that could turn him into an all-american next season without having to split minutes with Scoop Jardine. But Waiters also has a bit of a history: he nearly transferred out of Syracuse last season because he couldn’t accept sharing minutes. Grabbing a guaranteed contract when it is available is understandable, but I’m just not sure I agree with it.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.