On a day featuring a loaded slate of college basketball action, the first highlight of the day comes from a game you probably didn’t know was going on.
Bradley guard Walt Lemon Jr. drove the entire length of the floor with 4.3 seconds remaining and hit a running 3-pointer off the glass to give the Braves their fourth conference win of the season.
The game-winning shot helped fend off a furious Missouri State comeback. The Bears trailed by 15 points at the half and spent the game’s final 20 minutes chipping away at the lead.
But unfortunately, their efforts were for naught.
Lemon Jr. finished with a game-high 20 points, but none more important than the final three.
(Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics)
West Virginia got some great news on Monday as Jevon Carter announced that he will be returning to the Mountaineers for his senior year.
“I’m excited about coming back to West Virginia and playing with my teammates for my senior season,” he said. “The entire NBA process was a great experience for me and to gain valuable feedback that I can use to prepare for the future.”
This is massive for the Mountaineers. Not only is Carter the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points, but he is a three-time all-Big 12 Defensive Team member and led West Virginia in minutes played last season. He’ll be a favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year, with Devonte’ Graham of Kansas.
Emmanuel Akot, a five-star wing that has been committed to Arizona for months, announced on Monday that he will be reclassifying to the Class of 2017 and enrolling at Arizona this offseason.
“My family and I have decided to join the 2017 class and become a member of the Arizona Basketball family,” Akot said.
Akot was considered a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2018, a class that many believe to be significantly weaker than the Class of 2017. At 6-foot-7, he’s a versatile defender with quite a bit of potential that can step out and knock down threes, but he’s also far from a finish product and will likely need time to acclimate to the college level.
That said, he should be able to fill a role on the wing nicely, providing a nice bit of defensive reliance alongside more offensive-minded weapons like Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.
Akot joins a five-man recruiting class headlined by top four prospect Deandre Ayton and four-star recruits Brandon Randolph and Ira Lee.
The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is on Wednesday, May 24th, meaning that the players that have not signed with an agent have roughly 48 hours left to determine their basketball future.
Here are the ten most important decisions left to be made:
1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
- Projected: Late first round or early second round
- If he stays in: It will be a massive blow for Purdue, although one that the program should not be surprised about. Swanigan had an argument to be the National Player of the Year last season with the year that he had, and frankly, I’m not sure what else there is for him to prove at the college level. We know what he is offensively, and I don’t think that his flaws as a player are necessarily fixable. How much can he improve his body? How much different can he be as a defender? At this point he is what he is as a player.
- If he returns: The Boilermakers will be returning a guy that will be a lock to be the Preseason National Player of the Year. Without him, Purdue still has a shot to be a top 25 team and a threat to finish near the top of the Big Ten. With him? Matt Painter will have a chance to repeat as the Big Ten regular season champ, even with Michigan State looking like the best team in college basketball.
- CBT says: He should, and probably will, remain in the draft.
2. Tony Bradley, North Carolina
- Projected: Early second-round
- If he stays in: It would be a significant loss for the Tar Heels, but not a fatal one with Joel Berry set to return as a potential National Player of the Year candidate along with Theo Pinson, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams also in the starting lineup. What’s missing would be that experienced presence in the middle.
- If he returns: North Carolina would be without a doubt one of the top national title contenders. With Bradley in the lineup, the Tar Heels simply won’t have a huge weakness in the lineup that teams can immediately exploit. It won’t make them the clear-cut title frontrunner, but it’ll put them in the top tier.
- CBT says: With a first-round selection no guarantee, Bradley has a lot to gain returning to one of college basketball’s best teams.
3. Mo Wagner and D.J. Wilson, Michigan
- Projected: Wilson is a potential first round pick, but Wagner may end up going undrafted
- If they stay in: The biggest loss for Michigan is going to be point guard Derrick Walton, who was on another level at the end of last season. John Beilein’s teams are at their very best when they have a great ball-screen point guard, and their season is going to depend, in the end, on how Ohio transfer Jaaron Simmons adjusts to a higher level. But Beilein also runs an offense based on spacing the floor, and there’s no better way to space the floor than having a pair of big men that can step out on the perimeter and make threes.
- If they return: Suddenly, Michigan goes from being a team that could end up making the NCAA tournament to one that has a ceiling of being a top 15 team. Wilson probably has the most to gain by coming back for another year. He’s dealt with injuries throughout his career, and his defensively versatility and perimeter skill make him him a more likely first round pick if he can prove he’s more than just a one year wonder. Wagner may actually have a higher ceiling, but he needs to get tougher and show he can defend and rebound.
- CBT says: The safe bet is that Michigan loses Wilson and gets Wagner back, but I wouldn’t be shocked if both returned to school.
4. Justin Jackson, Maryland
- Projected: Mid-second round with first round potential
- If he stays in: It’s a massive blow for a Maryland team that will be looking to replace Melo Trimble, the man who is as responsible for turning around the Terp program as Mark Turgeon is. But Jackson has some NBA potential. He’s 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, he can defend multiple positions and he shot 44 percent from three. He’s built in the combo-forward mold that NBA teams love these days. There’s a real chance he leaves as a one-and-done player, and while the Terps have some other young, talented pieces, this loss could cost them the NCAA tournament.
- If he returns: Maryland should once again be a fringe top 25 team. Jackson has the chance to develop into an all-Big Ten kind of player next season as he takes on a bigger role of the offense. The freshmen trio of Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter should have Maryland fans excited.
- CBT says: All it takes is for one team to fall in love with Jackson’s potential to get him picked in the back end of the first round. How he performs at the combine may determine that.
5. Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky
- Projected: Late first round, early second round
- If he stays in: Kentucky has a ridiculous amount of talent joining the program next season, enough that John Calipari will likely have the pieces to make another push for an SEC title and a trip to the Final Four without him. At this point, he is really the only five-star off-guard on the roster, and losing him means the Wildcats may take a hit on the defensive end, but that would also allow some better shooters to get on the floor, so it may end up being a wash.
- If he returns: Kentucky suddenly looks like a team that is going to be as good as anyone on the defensive end. Between Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards and, potentially, Mo Bamba, there is as much length and athleticism on that roster as Coach Cal has ever had. Where their points come from will be the question, and this may be what gets Diallo to stay in the draft. He may be the most explosive athlete in the draft, but he’s also very raw. He’s not a shooter and he doesn’t have a great feel for the game. There’s a line of thinking that, if he returns to a team that doesn’t have myriad options offensively, he could end up being exposed on that end of the floor.
- CBT says: I think it would be in Diallo’s best interest to return — remember, he redshirted the second semester of last season after enrolling in January — but I would not be shocked to see him remain in the draft.
6. Thomas Welsh, UCLA
- Projected: Undrafted
- If he stays in: The Bruins will still have quite a bit of talent and will be a preseason top-25 team, but losing a player like Welsh would seriously lower their ceiling. Take a big step back is certainly something Steve Alford will look to avoid after a breakthrough season last year that started with him under some pressure.
- If he returns: The Bruins won’t be the toast of the Pac-12, that distinction will stay with Arizona, but UCLA asserts itself as a top-15(ish) team that has enough firepower, especially with a major 7-foot contributor, to at least push the Wildcats in the league.
- CBT says: Welsh has a lot of tools, but probably even more questions that make his stock pretty low right now.
7. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
- Projected: Second round to undrafted
- If he stays in: The Musketeers are suddenly one of the younger teams in the Big East with a roster that has just three players — J.P. Macura, Sean O’Mara and Kaiser Gates — that have spent more than one year on the Xavier campus. I still think Xavier would be able to get back into the NCAA tournament, as they will have some young talent on the roster and Chris Mack at the helm, but their upside will be significantly diminished.
- If he returns: Xavier will have a preseason all-american on their roster, a potential Big East Player of the Year and a guy that could end up averaging 20 points as a senior. He, along with J.P. Macura, will anchor a Musketeer roster that, beyond them, will be very young but promisingly talented. They’re probably a tournament team either way, but with Bluiett in the fold, they might have a chance to get back to the Elite 8 again.
- CBT says: Return to school
8. Deng Adel, Louisville
- Projected: Second round to undrafted
- If he stays in: Louisville will have lost their two most dangerous perimeter scoring options — Donovan Mitchell looks like he is going to sneak into the back-end of the lottery — from a team that really struggled to score from the perimeter. That would be a crushing blow for a Cardinal team that was the Preseason No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25 when it looked like both would be returning to school.
- If he returns: Louisville has their go-to scorer on the wing and Adel will have a chance to prove that he can play that role full-time. He really came on down the stretch of the 2016-17 season, and with an offense more or less built around him as the leading man, he’ll have every opportunity to prove himself an NBA-caliber wing scorer.
- CBT says: He returns to school.
Kentucky guard Dominique Hawkins is receiving interest from professional leagues in the United States, just not the league that you might expect for a guy that playing basketball for the Wildcats.
Hawkins, according to a story from the Lexington Herald-Leader, is getting interest from the NFL:
[Draft Express’ Jonathan] Givony said that he’s heard some NFL teams have been calling Hawkins about possibly trying out a career on the football field. Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. confirmed to the Herald-Leader that Hawkins has indeed heard from NFL teams in recent weeks — his football potential, particularly as a defensive back, has been mentioned before.
Going from college basketball to the NFL is not unheard of. In fact, it’s quite common, particularly at the tight end position. Jimmy Graham played basketball for four years at Miami. Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State. Tony Gonzalez played at Cal. Julius Thomas played at Portland State. Just last year, Rico Gathers made his way onto the Dallas Cowboys. NFL teams scout college basketball teams to find guys that can fill that role.
But Hawkins isn’t going to be a tight end.
He’s 6-foot with a 44.5 inch vertical, long arms and freak athleticism. The NFL wants him to be a cornerback.
This has happened before as well. Remember this shot? It was made by a point guard named Demetri Goodson, who left Gonzaga after his sophomore season, transferred to Baylor to play football and has spent the last three seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
It’s about that time to release the 2017-18 preseason top 25.
A couple of notes here:
- Final decisions on NBA Draft decisions won’t be made for more than a month. We’re making educated (some more than others) guesses on who will be doing what.
- We also make some educated guesses on where some of the remaining uncommitted kids will end up going to school.
- If there is a * next to a player’s name, it means we’re still waiting for official word on what his status will be next season.
Next season’s top 25 is awful uninspiring. There also isn’t anything close to a clear-cut No. 1 team, not with how much is still left to be determined through NBA Draft decisions, transfers and elite recruits picking a school.
Drop us a line here or @CBTonNBC if you see any names missing.
Here is the top 25:
1. Michigan State
- Who’s gone: Eron Harris, Alvin Ellis III
- Who do they add: Jaren Jackson, Xavier Tillman
- Projected starting lineup: Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Nick Ward
- I like this Michigan State team a lot. Nick Ward was a beast last year and Jaren Jackson is the perfect sidekick. Cassius Winston and Josh Langford will both take a step forward. The key, however, is that a potential Player of the Year in Miles Bridges opted to return to school.
- Who’s gone: Lauri Markkanen, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, Chance Comanche
- Who do they add: Deandre Ayton, Emmanuel Akot*, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, Dylan Smith
- Projected starting lineup: Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, Deandre Ayton, Dusan Ristic
- The Wildcats add the most talented big man in the class in Deandre Ayton, as well as Emmanuel Akot and Brandon Randolph. The reason they’re a top five team, however is the return of Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.
3. North Carolina
- Who’s gone: Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt
- Who do they add: Jaleek Felton, Sterling Manley, Brandon Huffman, Andrew Platek
- Projected starting lineup: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, Tony Bradley*
- The Tar Heels are coming off of back-to-back national title game appearances, and while they will lose three key seniors from that team, and probably Justin Jackson as well, there are some important pieces that will likely return. Berry will be a National Player of the Year contender, Tony Bradley will be a breakout star and Luke Maye will move into the starting lineup.
- Who’s gone: Frank Mason II, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas
- Who do they add: Malik Newman, Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Sam Cunliffe
- Projected starting lineup: Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk*, Billy Preston, Udoka Azuibuike
- The Jayhawks are going to have a lot to replace, but they do have some players coming in. If Devonte’ Graham does come back, I think he’ll be a star and all-Big 12 player at the point, and he’ll be joined by a former top 10 prospect in Malik Newman and a current top ten prospect in Billy Preston.
- Who’s gone: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, Dominique Hawkins
- Who do they add: Hamidou Diallo*, Quade Green, Kevin Knox,Nick Richards, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker
- Projected starting lineup: Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo*, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards
- Kentucky is a tough team to peg for next season. They should be really good defensively — Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt are elite defenders — and insanely athletic, but it’s going to be another year where we don’t know who shoots it for Kentucky. Adding Knox is big, and if they bring in Mo Bamba as well they’ll have an incredibly young but incredibly talented team.
- Who’s gone: Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III, Luke Kennard, Frank Jackson
- Who do they add: Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Alex O’Connell, Trevon Duval, Jordan Tucker*
- Projected starting lineup: Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Marques Bolden
- Getting Grayson Allen back for his senior year is huge because Duke lost a lot of talent early to the draft, and that doesn’t include missing out on five-star forward Kevin Knox, but landing Trevon Duval is the difference-maker for them. They finally have a point guard to replace Tyus Jones.
- Who’s gone: Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy
- Who do they add: Lonnie Walker, Chris Lykes, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg
- Projected starting lineup: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence, Dewan Huell
- Losing Reed and Murphy will hurt, but Bruce Brown was one of the best-kept secrets last year, Lonnie Walker is a big-time scorer and Dewan Huell is a former top 30 prospect in line for a big bump in minutes this year. Jim Larrañaga is exactly the coach to take advantage of this guard-heavy lineup, too.
- Who’s gone: Kasey Hill, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon, Devin Robinson
- Who do they add: Isaiah Stokes, Egor Koulechov, Chase Johnson, DeAundre Ballard, Michael Okauru, Jalen Hudson, Dontay Bassett
- Projected starting lineup: Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, John Egbunu
- Coming off of a trip to the Elite 8, the Gators bring back most of their key pieces while adding a talented recruiting class and two players that redshirted last season. Two keys to this team’s ceiling: The health of John Egbunu, who missed the second half of last season, and the development of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.
- Who’s gone: Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, Tony Hicks, Jaylen Johnson, Donovan Mitchell
- Who do they add: Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, Lance Thomas
- Projected starting lineup: Quentin Snider, VJ King, Deng Adel*, Ray Spalding, Anas Mahmoud
- Louisville has a chance to be very, very good next season. Just how good probably depends on what Deng Adel decides to do; he would be the only proven wing scorer on the roster if he returns. If guys like VJ King, Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud take a step forward, the Cardinals might compete for an ACC title. That says a lot this year.
- Who’s gone: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds
- Who do they add: Jermaine Samuels, Collin Gillispie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Omari Spellman
- Projected starting lineup: Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman
- The Wildcats are going to take a major hit with Josh Hart finally graduating, but the good news is that Jay Wright is still around, as is Jalen Brunson. Omari Spellman getting eligible will help, and I know I’m not the only one that thinks Donte DiVincenzo has a chance to develop into an all-Big East player.
11. Wichita State
- Who’s gone: No one
- Who do they add: Samajae Haynes-jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard
- Projected starting lineup: Landry Shamet, Connor Frankamp, Zach Brown, Markis McDuffie*, Shaq Morris
- The Shockers finished the season ranked in the top ten at KenPom, but ended up with a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament because they struggled to get used to each other early on in the season. With everyone returning from last year’s team, don’t be surprised to see Gregg Marshall’s team as a Final Four contender.
12. West Virginia
- Who’s gone: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins
- Who do they add: Derek Culver, Brandon Knapper, D’Angelo Hunter, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris
- Projected starting lineup: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, Elijah Macon
- At this point, I’m just going to assume that Bobby Huggins is going to put a good team on the floor regardless of the situation. The names don’t even matter, although Jevon Carter is back for what feels like his 17th season in college hoops while Esa Ahmad seems primed for a monster year.
- Who’s gone: Charles Buggs
- Who do they add: Derryck Thornton, Charles O’Bannon, Jordan Usher
- Projected starting lineup: Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Elijah Stewart, Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu
- There is a lot of talent on the USC roster for now, especially now that Metu is returning, but the key to this team is going to be whether or not they get Boatwright and Stewart back.
- Who’s gone: Akeem Springs
- Who do they add: Isaiah Washington, Jamir Harris, Davonte Fitzgerald
- Projected starting lineup: Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch
- The Golden Gophers bring everyone back from last season, a year where they were one of the most surprising teams in the country. Minnesota could win the Big Ten.
- Who’s gone: Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton
- Who do they add: LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, Chris Smith
- Projected starting lineup: Jaylen Hands, Aaron Holiday*, Kris Wilkes, Cody Riley, Thomas Welsh*
- It’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins move on from the Lonzo Ball era. It will also be interesting to see how LaVar Ball handles the fact that LiAngelo Ball isn’t Lonzo.
- Who’s gone: Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson
- Who do they add: Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, Eliel Nsoseme, Cane Broome
- Projected starting lineup: Cane Broome, Jarron Cumberland, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, Kyle Washington
- The Bearcats return a lot of important pieces from a team that won 30 games last season. Broome averaged 23 points for Sacred Heart as a sophomore.
17. Seton Hall
- Who’s gone: Madison Jones
- Who do they add: Myles Cale, Darnell Brodie
- Projected starting lineup: Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Desi Rodriguez, Ishmael Sanogo, Angel Delgado*
- This is the team that I’m going to probably overhype all offseason. I love this group. Let’s just hope Angel Delgado comes back.
- Who’s gone: Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews, Zach Collins
- Who do they add: Jacob Larsen, Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert, Jesse Wade
- Projected starting lineup: Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams III*, Killian Tillie
- With Nigel Williams-Goss gone, the key to Gonzaga’s season will be the development of Josh Perkins. Can he play the point full-time and do it successfully?
- Who’s gone: Sanjay Lumpkin, Nathan Taphorn
- Who do they add: Anthony Gaines, Aaron Falzon, Rapolas Ivanauskas
- Projected starting lineup: Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Aaron Falzon, Dererk Pardon
- The Wildcats, a year removed from their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, bring back essentially everyone from last season and get Aaron Falzon healthy. Bryant McIntosh will contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.
- Who’s gone: Nick King, Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, Corban Collins
- Who do they add: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Daniel Giddens
- Projected starting lineup: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key*, Daniel Giddens
- The Crimson Tide bring back a talented young core and add two five-star guards, including Collin Sexton, who could lead the conference in scoring.
21. Notre Dame
- Who’s gone: Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem
- Who do they add: DJ Harvey, Nikola Djogo
- Projected starting lineup: Matt Farrell, Temple Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben
- At this point, I’m fine betting on Brey to have Notre Dame in the mix every year. They’re going to need Rex Pfleuger and Temple Gibbs to take a step forward, but Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell can carry the Irish.
22. Virginia Tech
- Who’s gone: Seth Allen, Zach LeDay
- Who do they add: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Wabissa Bede
- Projected starting lineup: Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Khadim Sy
- The Hokies return all five starters from last season despite the fact that the team graduates their top two scorers. A healthy Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear will help.
23. Saint Mary’s
- Who’s gone: Joe Rahon, Dane Pineau
- Who do they add: Angus Glover, Cullen Neal
- Projected starting lineup: Jordan Ford, Emmett Naar, Calvin Hermanson, Evan Fitzner, Jock Landale
- Losing Rahon will hurt, but with Naar and Landale coming back, the Gaels are going to push Gonzaga in the WCC race once again.
- Who’s gone: Ishmail Wainright, Johnathan Motley
- Who do they add: Mark Vital, Tyson Jolly, Tristan Clark
- Projected starting lineup: Manu Lecomte, Jake Lindsey, King McClure, Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil
- Losing Johnathan Motley is a massive blow for the Bears, but there should be enough experience on the roster to keep them in the top 25.
- Who’s gone: Cameron Oliver, Marcus Marshall
- Who do they add: Hallice Cooke, Cody and Caleb Martin, Kendall Stephens
- Projected starting lineup: Lindsey Drew, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Kendall Stephens, Jordan Caroline
- Even without Oliver, the Wolf Pack look like a team that can make another run in the Mountain West. Jordan Caroline should be MWC Player of the Year.