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UCLA, Syracuse among the 2014 NBA Draft Early Entry Losers

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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?

MOREThe full list of players who have declared | Early Entry Winners


1. UCLA: The Bruins got crushed by early entry decisions this spring, losing three guys to the draft despite the fact that none of the three are close to being a lock for the first round. It was not a surprise that Kyle Anderson went pro. That decision was made public before the season even started. What was surprising, however, was that Zach LaVine made the decision to declare for the draft. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard and as explosive of a leaper as you will find, but he seemingly made up his mind to head to the professional level after a great start to the season despite the fact that he played terribly down the stretch.

Losing LaVine hurt, but the real blow was Jordan Adams. Adams had a chance to be a first-team all-american if he returned to school, and initially he did make the decision to come back for his junior season. But late on Saturday night, news broke that Adams had changed his mind and he announced that he was leaving for the NBA. With Adams back, UCLA was a top 15 team. With Adams and LaVine, they might have been a top ten team. Without either, they’re going to enter the season as a borderline top 25 team.

2. Syracuse: I’ll tell you what, Jim Boeheim and his coaching staff are just too good at developing point guards right now. Tyler Ennis was forced into a starting role this past season after Michael Carter-Williams blew up as a sophomore, and Ennis thrived. He entered the draft and will likely get picked in the lottery, leaving the Orange with, once again, just a single point guard on their roster, freshman Kaleb Joseph. The Orange also lost Jerami Grant to the NBA despite the fact that he’s looking at potentially being a second round pick. The Orange might not be a top 25 team is 2014-2015.

3. Michigan: Nik Stauskas was an all-american this past season, and while losing him to the draft hurts, it was the expected outcome for the last two months. Glenn Robinson III wasn’t much of a shock, either. It was more surprising that he returned to school for this past season. With Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin on the roster, the Wolverines can withstand the loss of those two. What they can’t withstand, however, is Mitch McGary going pro thanks to a positive drug test during the NCAA tournament. Losing McGary will leave Michigan without any kind of imposing size in the middle.

4. Missouri: The Tigers saw both Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson declare for the draft, which, when combined with the departure of head coach Frank Haith (a decision likely spurred on by those two draft decision), will leave the Tigers in a position where they are rebuilding. It may be for the best in the long-term, as the momentum that Haith had built at Missouri was gone, but it likely makes the Tigers an NIT team for next year.

5. UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels lost both Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith to the NBA Draft, leaving them without one of the biggest, most athletic front court duos on the west coast. They weren’t all that effective in earning wins last season, as UNLV missed out on the NCAA tournament, but it means that head coach Dave Rice will once again be counting on talented-but-unproven youngsters next year.

Five more losers

  • New Mexico: With Kendall Williams and Cameron Bairstow graduation, Craig Neal needed Alex Kirk to anchor his team as he transitions into a new era. Instead, Kirk graduated and left for the NBA.
  • Colorado: The Buffaloes were a top 20 team if Spencer Dinwiddie returned. He didn’t.
  • Indiana: The Hoosiers are likely looking at another trip to the NIT as they lost Noah Vonleh, a top ten pick, to the NBA.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack had to expect that T.J. Warren would be heading to the NBA Draft after the way that he played down the stretch of the season, but that won’t change the fact that it hurts losing a guy that could score the way Warren can.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost Semaj Christon to the NBA despite the fact that he likely ends up being a second round pick.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.