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Kentucky, Wisconsin headline 2014 NBA Draft Early Entry Winners

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The NBA Draft’s early entry deadline came and went at midnight on Sunday. Who were this year’s five biggest winners?

MORE: The full list of players who have declared | Early Entry losers

1. Kentucky: It sounds weird to say this, I know, but the Kentucky lost two lottery picks, including a guy that will go top five in the NBA Draft, and they were clearly the biggest winner during the entire early entry circus. It started with Willie Cauley-Stein, who announced that he would be returning to school after undergoing surgery on his ankle. He was a potential lottery pick. Then Marcus Lee returned. Then Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson came back. And, lastly, both of the Harrison twins returned to school.

Five were expected to declare off of Kentucky. Only two did. The key? The Harrisons, who will provide the Wildcats with perimeter depth and justify yet another preseason No. 1 ranking.

2. Wisconsin: The Badgers made a bit of a surprising run to the Final Four in 2014, and they did it as Frank ‘The Tank’ Kaminsky turned into an unstoppable force. His size and ability to score from anywhere on the court made him one of the breakout stars of the NCAA tournament, and while he flirted with the idea of putting his name into the draft, he will return. So will Sam Dekker, who is a potential first round pick at the small forward spot. As a result, the Badgers are going to be the Big Ten favorites and a top five team in 2014-2015.

3. Louisville: Outside of the Harrison twins announcing that they would be returning to school, the single most important early entry decision was Montrezl Harrell’s announcement that he would be back for his junior season. A potential lottery pick, Harrell is going to be the only veteran — and only physical presence — on a big and athletic-albeit-extremely young front line. He makes the Cardinals a Final Four contender. Without him, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

4. Arizona: Aaron Gordon was never spending more than one season on campus. Nick Johnson left and that void will hurt although it wasn’t all that much of a surprise that he went pro. The good news? Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski all will be back on campus next season, and as a result Sean Miller will once again have a top five team and the Pac-12 favorite at his disposal.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost James Michael McAdoo to the NBA, but they also kept him for two years longer than just about anyone expected. They came out ahead there. The bigger news is that not only did Marcus Paige return for his junior season, but Brice Johnson did as well. With the recruiting class that Roy Williams brings in this season, don’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels give Louisville and Duke a run for their money at the top of the ACC next season.

Three more winners

  • Utah: Delon Wright’s decision to return to Utah for his senior season will give him a shot at being an all-american in 2014-2015 and will allow the Utes to be a top four team in the Pac-12.
  • Oregon: Joseph Young flirted with leaving for the NBA, but ultimately he returned. He may end up leading the Pac-12 is scoring this season.
  • West Virginia: Juwan Staten was a hidden gem at the point guard spot this past season thanks to the play of Marcus Smart and DeAndre Kane. He’ll be an all-Big 12 first team player entering next season.


PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.