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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.


Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.