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NBA Draft Early Entry Winners and Losers

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The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft for early entry candidates that have not signed with an agent came and went last night, and while a few of the decisions took us right up to the deadline, it mostly played out the way it was expected to.

Some big names returned. Some surprising names left.

Next season’s top 25 is awful uninspiring. There also isn’t anything close to a clear-cut No. 1 team, although the consensus at this point seems to be that Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas, despite their flaws, are the three best teams in the country in some order. 

RELATED: Preseason Top 25 | Preseason All-Americans

Here are biggest winners and losers from deadline day:

BIGGEST WINNERS

1. Michigan State: The Spartans got Miles Bridges back. Bridges would’ve been a lottery pick and may have gone in the top ten had he declared for the draft, but he didn’t even do that. On paper, Bridges looks like a surefire all-american — he is our way-too-early Preseason National Player of the Year — and with him back in the fold, the Spartans are currently the Preseason No. 1 team in the country.

If Bridges doesn’t return to school, Tom Izzo would have been forced to coach a very young team without a proven perimeter scorer and a point guard who turned the ball over on nearly a quarter of his possessions. Bridges turned them from a borderline top 25 team to a consensus top three team. That’s a pretty big win.

2. USC: No one had a better spring than Andy Enfield. A year after learning that he would lost two starters that weren’t going to get draft, Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic, to the professional ranks, he had four players weighing the decision of whether or not to turn pro: Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu and Shaqquan Aaron all declared for the draft and returned to school. Elijah Stewart forgot to send his papers in declaring, and Jordan McLaughlin and Deanthony Melton didn’t even put their names in.

The Trojans will now enter next season as a consensus top 15 team with as much talent on their roster as anyone. If they decide to start defending, they could push Arizona and UCLA for the Pac-12 title.

3. Arizona: Three things happened for Arizona this spring: Allonzo Trier, a potential first-team all-american this season, decided that he would be returning to school. So did Rawle Alkins, a former five-star prospect that could be an all-Pac-12 player next season. Arizona also found out that Kobi Simmons would be entering the NBA Draft after one year, which frees up minutes on the perimeter for someone that is, shall we say, slightly more consistent? The Wildcats are a consensus top three team next year.

4. Texas A&M: The Aggies were the only other team to get a projected lottery pick back, as Robert Williams made the decision to return to school for his sophomore season. This is huge news for Billy Kennedy, because this Texas A&M team will finally have a point guard available to them next season.

5. Texas: The biggest news for Texas in the last month was that Mo Bamba, a top five prospect in the Class of 2017 and one of the best shotblockers to come through the high school ranks in recent years, committed to the Longhorns. That happened just a couple of days before Andrew Jones announced that he would be withdrawing from the draft and returning for his sophomore season. With a pure point guard in freshman Matt Coleman to help him share back court duties, Jones should be freed up to showcase why he was a five-star recruit as a combo-guard.

6. Kentucky: I know, it’s weird to list Kentucky as a winner when they literally had five players enter the NBA Draft with at least two years of eligibility remaining. But here’s the thing: three of those decisions (Fox, Monk, Bam) were locks, a fourth (Isaiah Briscoe) was expected and the fifth (Isaac Humphries) turned pro because he was probably never not going to be recruited over by John Calipari. But with just 15 minutes left before the deadline, the Wildcats found out that they are going to be getting Hamidou Diallo back for his second year and first season playing for the program.

Kentucky is going to have serious issues scoring the ball next year, but they are loaded with length, athleticism and defensive potential. Diallo has every physical tool a coach could ever dream of, but he can’t really score. He may not be a go-to scorer for the Wildcats, but he sure is a great piece for a team that’s going to try to win games in the 50s next year.

Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

BIGGEST LOSERS

1. Oregon: Oregon reached the Final Four last year on the stretch of three things: Tyler Dorsey going full Stephen Curry in the NCAA tournament, Jordan Bell turning into the second-coming of Ben Wallace and Dillon Brooks being a matchup nightmare playing as a small-ball four. All three had eligibility remaining, and only Bell has any chance of being a first round pick. Without those three, Oregon, who would have likely been the preseason No. 1 team in the country, is not going to be found in any preseason top 25s.

2. Gonzaga: Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Gonzaga for next season was the run to the NCAA tournament title game last season. For starters, it all-but ensured that Zach Collins was going to be headed to the NBA Draft. Collins could certainly have ended up there anyway, but dominant Final Four performances — including 14 points, 13 boards and six blocks against South Carolina — made his choice easy.

That wasn’t really the painful one for Mark Few. Losing Nigel Williams-Goss with a year of eligibility remaining probably hurts more. Williams-Goss was a first-team all-american in 2017 and would have been a favorite to win National Player of the Year as a fifth-year senior had he returned. But despite the fact that he may not even get drafted, Williams-Goss decided to head to the professional ranks with his degree in hand. A brutal blow for Gonzaga, but a decision that’s hard to argue with.

3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson to the NBA Draft after a sterling junior season, a move that hurts but that surprised absolutely no one. UNC still looked like a top ten team, but that was assuming that Tony Bradley would return to school. A freshman center that averaged less than 15 minutes last year, Bradley would have been the focal point of Roy Williams’ front court attack this season, but he opted to bolt for the NBA and a 50-50 shot at getting picked in the first round. Without him, UNC looks like a top 20-25 team that will go as far as Joel Berry II can carry them.

4. Purdue: One of the biggest points of contention for the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25 has been the lack of Purdue in our rankings. They return four starters from a team that ended the year as outright Big Ten champions and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. But they also lost Caleb Swanigan, the runner-up for National Player of the Year in 2016-17 and one of the most dominant big men that we’ve seen in the college game in quite some time. While he’s a borderline first round pick at best, I do believe that Biggie made the right decision to jump to the professional ranks, but the hole that he’ll leave for the Boilermakers this season is going to make you appreciate all over again just how good he was.

5. BYU: The Cougars looked primed to sneak up on Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the WCC this season, but they suffered a brutal blow when Eric Mika, who averaged nearly 20 points and 10 boards last season, decided to remain in the draft. They were a tournament team with him. They’re going to have to scrap to finish third in the WCC without him.

6. Indiana: The Hoosiers actually did get some good news on the early entry front late in the process as Robert Johnson opted to return to school for his senior season, but that doesn’t change the fact that Archie Miller is going to be starting his tenure in Bloomington without O.G. Anunoby, Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon Jr. Anunoby is the only one of the three that is likely to hear his name called in the first round, and Blackmon — who did graduate in three years — may not even get drafted.

Five-star 2018 recruit Anfernee Simons could test NBA Draft process

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Five-star Class of 2018 guard Anfernee Simons is interested in potentially entering the 2018 NBA Draft.

According to a report from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the former Louisville commit will likely be eligible to jump to the NBA straight out of high school since he graduated high school last year while turning 19 next June. The 6-foot-4 Simons, considered the No. 16 overall prospect in the Rivals’ Class of 2018 national rankings, is playing a post-grad season at IMG Academy for 2017-18 after reclassifying as a sophomore.

If Simons opts to go pro than college basketball loses a potential star as he’s been shooting up the national rankings over the past year. Simons was committed to the Cardinals since the beginning of his junior year but he opened things up once former head coach Rick Pitino lost his job in a fallout from the FBI investigation on college basketball.

Simons started his season at the National Prep Showcase this weekend as six NBA teams sent people to watch him play, according to Givony’s report.

It’ll be fascinating to see what happens in this situation as Simons hasn’t done much with the recruiting process over the last several months. Now that NBA teams are already watching him play, Simons could follow in Thon Maker’s footsteps and turn pro right away.

LaVar Ball on Trump’s involvement in bringing son home: ‘Who?’

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The war of words none of us wanted is now upon us.

LaVar Ball downplayed the impact that Donald Trump had in ensuring that his son, LiAngelo, along with two other UCLA players were released from custody and returned to the United States following a shoplifting incident on the team’s trip to China.

“Who?” the eldest Ball told ESPN on Friday night when asked about Trump’s involvement. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

When the players arrived back in Los Angeles, and before they had a chance to speak publicly, Trump had already taken to twitter to complain about the fact that the trio had not yet thanked him. Trump happened to be in China at the same time and, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he reportedly asked for his counterpart’s help in assuring an expedited legal process.

Trump got the thank you that he so desperately needed when UCLA held a press conference announcing that the three players would be suspended indefinitely, but LaVar was not going to let the President have the last word. And you can bet that Trump is not going to let this be the end of it, either, which means that two men that have risen to prominence through their willingness to say the audacious whenever the spotlight is on them will have the floor.

And unless someone has managed to change the passcode on Trump’s cellphone, you can rest assured that this will not be the end of it.

Bridges perfect from 3, No. 5 Villanova blows out Lafayette

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Mikal Bridges set a school record by hitting all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 24 points in No. 5 Villanova’s 104-57 rout of Lafayette on Friday night.

Jalen Brunson added 22 points and hit 4 of 6 3s in another dominant performance by the Wildcats (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from long range.

Three nights after setting a school record with 13 blocked shots in a blowout of Nicholls, the versatile and deep Wildcats showed another strength and overwhelmed the Leopards (0-3).

Led by Bridges’ 4 of 4 long-distance shooting, Villanova hit 11 of its first 14 3s in racing to a 39-16 lead. The Wildcats had a stretch of nine straight baskets being 3s en route to a 56-23 halftime lead.

Matt Klinewski had 16 points and six rebounds for Lafayette, which was 7 of 29 from 3-point range.

Bridges finished 9 of 10 from the field before he sat out the final 10 minutes. The junior bested his previous career-high by one point set Tuesday.

While it was a Villanova home game, it was played about 50 miles from campus at the PPL Center, home of minor league hockey’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was a 20-mile drive for Lafayette, but the Wildcats sure seemed at home.

Villanova spent much of the second half going inside to score. Omari Spellman had 15 points and nine rebounds and Eric Paschall had 14 points and eight boards.

BIG PICTURE

Lafayette: Try as a Patriot League school squaring off against one of the best teams in the nation and watching the opponent shoot like that, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s alma mater never had a chance.

Villanova: The Wildcats have perimeter shooting, depth inside and play good defense. They’ve been dominant against inferior competition, and will finally get tested next week.

SO MANY 3-POINTERS

Bridges surpassed Doug West in 1988 and John Celestand in 1999, each of whom went 5 of 5 from long range. Villanova finished one shy of the school record of 17 3s set against Lehigh on Nov. 27, 2005.

NO LUCK

Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon fell to 0-6 against his alma mater. O’Hanlon still holds the Villanova record for assists in a game with 16 set against Toledo on Feb. 24, 1970.

Only six Division I coaches have been at their schools longer than O’Hanlon, in his 23rd season.

UP NEXT

Lafayette visits Princeton on Wednesday.

Villanova faces Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the first of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona are possible opponents the following two days.

Mykhailiuk helps No. 4 Kansas rout South Dakota State, 98-64

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 27 points, Lagerald Vick finished with 22 and fourth-ranked Kansas routed Summit League favorite South Dakota State 98-64 on Friday night.

Udoka Azubuike added 17 points and Malik Newman had 13 for the Jayhawks (3-0), who shot 60 percent from the field and didn’t commit a turnover until midway through the second half.

By that point, the Jackrabbits (3-1) were staring at a 30-point deficit.

Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tevin King contributed 12 points and David Jenkins Jr. scored 10 off the bench.

Once again without heralded freshman Billy Preston, the Jayhawks were forced to use the same reduced rotation that managed to top seventh-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night. But their perilous lack of depth became crippling in the first half when Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot picked up two fouls each.

That forced coach Bill Self to use walk-on Clay Young in the post.

The 6-foot-5 senior turned out to be a bright spot, too, keeping the ball moving on offense and handling the 6-9 Daum inside. The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer at more than 21 points per game had eight on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half, when Young spent a good chunk of time covering him.

Nobody could cover Mykhailiuk, though.

The senior from the Ukraine hit his first three shots — the Jayhawks made eight of their first nine — while getting into an easy rhythm. Even on the seemingly rare occasion that his jumper didn’t splash the net, it often rattled around the rim and dropped through to a thunderous ovation.

Several of his baskets came on feeds from Devonte Graham, who didn’t hit a field goal until deep in the second half. He finished with eight points but also had 11 assists and five boards.

PRESTON SITS

Preston went through early warmups but remained on the bench as Kansas investigates an on-campus incident that raised questions about the “financial picture” of the car he was driving. Self declined to discuss the situation other than to say “we’re definitely going to hold him out until we get to the bottom of this.” Self did say he expects a resolution soon.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota State can recover from its thumping in paradise with a trip to the Cayman Islands Classic up next. But their next trip to the Sunflower State figures to be just as tough: They visit No. 6 Wichita State on Dec. 5.

Kansas cruised despite a shortened lineup again, and help is only a month away. Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible for a trip to Nebraska on Dec. 16, and there is a chance five-star prospect Silvio De Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy enrolls at the semester break.

UP NEXT

South Dakota State plays Wyoming on Monday in George Town, Cayman Islands.

Kansas continues a four-game home stand against Texas Southern on Tuesday night.

No. 18 Louisville hangs on over Omaha 87-78

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ray Spalding had a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, Deng Adel had a game-high 21 points and Anas Mahmoud had eight of his team’s 15 blocked shots as No. 18 Louisville outlasted Omaha 87-78 on Friday night.

Spalding scored 14 points after halftime, and Adel made 7 of 8 shots from both the field and the free-throw line to pace the offense for the Cardinals (2-0), who led by 20 early in the second half but didn’t make a field for the last 4:36 of the game.

Omaha (0-4) was competitive in facing its highest-ranked opponent since becoming an NCAA Division I program in the 2011-12 season. The Mavericks hung around with a 12-0 second-half run and got within 71-64 on KJ Robinson’s 3-pointer with 5:45 left, but Louisville answered with seven straight points to keep the lead large enough to stay unbeaten under interim coach David Padgett.

Louisville’s three primary big men — Spalding (6-foot-10), Mahmoud (7-0) and Malik Williams (6-11) — bothered Omaha with their length around the rim. Mahmoud flirted with a triple-double, posting 10 points and eight rebounds to go with his blocks. Williams, a former five-star recruit who made his first career start in place of Mahmoud, had eight points, four rebounds and three blocks. Spalding blocked three shots, too.

Daniel Norl led five Omaha scorers in double figures with 16 points and eight rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Omaha: The Mavericks averaged 83.9 points in their first three games but dug a hole in the first half when they shot only 24.4 percent to go down 40-25 at halftime. Louisville finished the first half on an 18-7 run, and Omaha made only one of its final nine shots before the break.

Louisville: Adel, who scored 20 points in the season-opening win over George Mason, continues to impress with his slicing drives and up-tempo play and shapes up as one of the top wings in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He made his first seven shots and added eight rebounds.

UP NEXT

Omaha plays at TCU on Monday as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, the fourth of seven straight games away from home to start the season while the Mavericks’ home arena hosts the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials.

Louisville has home games against Southern Illinois on Tuesday and Saint Francis next Friday before traveling to Purdue on Nov. 28 for the Big 10/ACC Challenge.