The ten biggest early entry decisions remaining

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With Gary Harris, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III all announcing that they are going to be returning to school for the 2013-2014 season, here are the ten biggest decisions left to be made in the week and a half until the NBA’s deadline to enter the draft:

Adreian Payne, Michigan State: Payne is the difference-maker for Michigan State next season. If he returns, the Spartans are a true national title contender, in the mix with Kentucky, Arizona and Duke. Without him, they will still be good, but they will have a hole up front. Gavin Schilling, Matt Costello and Alex Gauna just aren’t the same player as Payne.

Shane Larkin, Miami: Larkin had a breakout season, earning all-ACC first team honors and leading Miami to a dual-ACC title and a trip to the Sweet 16. But the Hurricanes were a senior-laden team in 2012-2013, and with a number of the key pieces — including the entire front line — graduating. Draft Express projects Larkin as a late-first round pick.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: Creighton will lose a number of pieces heading into their first year in the new Big East, including center Gregory Echenique and point guard Grant Gibbs. But if McDermott decides to return, he’ll be a favorite to be the National Player of the Year and will make the Bluejays a tournament team.

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga: Olynyk was the biggest surprise of the 2012-2013 season, as he went from a redshirt to an all-american as a junior. Given his mobility and offensive repertoire, he could be a mid-first round pick if he decides to leave. If he returns, Gonzaga should once again be a top ten team.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, Baylor: With Pierre Jackson graduating, Baylor is already going to have a major hole to fill. If Austin and Jefferson also decide to enter the draft, that would put a lot of pressure on Rico Gathers and Dominic Woodson up front. Jefferson is probably a second round pick, but Austin could go in the lottery.

Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith was out the door in the moments after the title game, according to his father. But it seems like he’s waffling on that decision and may actually be leaning towards returning. Smith is a perfect fit for Pitino’s pressing system and will help bridge the gap to Terry Rozier and Chris Jones.

CJ Fair, Syracuse: CJ Fair is as underrated as any player in the country. That’s what happens when you’re Mr. Consistency. But what makes Fair so important for Syracuse is that he’s really the only front court player that Jim Boeheim will have that can score the ball outside of five feet from the rim.

Shabazz Napier, UConn: The Huskies have a shot to be a tournament next season, but that’s only if Napier can once again team up with Ryan Boatright in the back court. If Napier leaves, the Huskies could end up being in trouble.

Andre Roberson, Colorado: Colorado is going to be a good basketball team with or without Roberson, but he’s an excellent rebounder and defender that can help them make a push to be the second best team in the Pac-12.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.