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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.

Ball State forward Zach Hollywood found dead in off-campus apartment

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Zach Hollywood, a redshirt freshman on the Ball State basketball team, has died, the university confirmed to multiple local news outlets Tuesday.

He was 19 years old.

Hollywood redshirted last season at Ball State after averaging 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a senior at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in Bradley, Ill.

Muncie police are investigating the death at Hollywood’s off-campus apartment, according to WTHR-TV.

“On behalf of Ball State University, it is with profound sadness that we learned today of the passing of Zachary “Zach” Hollywood, a student from Bradley, Illinois,” the school said in a statement. “Zach has been a part of our family for the past year. During his time on campus, he was a member of men’s basketball team and made many positive impressions throughout campus.

“This is a tragedy. Our heartfelt condolences are with his family, friends and teammates. “For members of our Ball State family who need support during this difficult time, we encourage them to take advantage of the numerous resources available on- and off-campus.”

Hollywood’s death is a tragic turn in an already devastating story for his family, which lost Zach’s mother, Susan, suddenly just over one year ago.

3-on-3 at the Final Four for $100,000? It’s happening

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The Final Four just got more exciting.

On Tuesday, Intersport announced a 3-on-3 tournament that they will be hosting at the Final Four with a $100,000 payout for the winners. The participants must be seniors that have exhausted their collegiate eligibility, the teams will be created based on conference and the rules will be standard, international 3-on-3 rules: one-point for a bucket inside the arc, two points for a bucket outside the arc, 12-second shot clocks and games played to 21 points, or whoever has the highest score after 10 minutes. Each all-star team will feature four players, including one sub.

And, well, this is awesome.

I cannot express enough how much I love this idea.

One potential pothole here is that teams that are playing in the Final Four will, quite clearly, not have players eligible to participate.

It also should be noted that since “three-pointers” are now worth two points and “two-pointers” are now worth one, the value of long-range shooting is increased even more.

With all that in mind, why don’t we make a quick power ranking of the teams that can be created from the nine biggest conferences in college hoops:

  1. ACC: Grayson Allen (Duke), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Joel Berry II (North Carolina), Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech)
  2. Big East: Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Marcus Foster (Creighton)
  3. Big 12: Devonte’ Graham (Kansas), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Jeffery Carroll (Oklahoma State), Zach Smith (Texas Tech)
  4. AAC: Rob Gray (Houston), B.J. Taylor (UCF), Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Obi Enechionya (Temple)
  5. Pac-12: Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart (USC), George King (Colorado), Thomas Welsh (UCLA)
  6. Big Ten: Nate Mason (Minnesota), Scottie Lindsay (Northwestern), Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas (Purdue)
  7. Atlantic 10: E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell (Rhode Island), Peyton Aldridge (Davidson), Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure)
  8. SEC: Yante Maten (Georgia), Deandre Burnett (Ole Miss), Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford (Arkansas)
  9. WCC: Jock Landale and Emmett Naar (Saint Mary’s), Jonathan Williams III (Gonzaga), Silas Melson (Gonzaga)

I had way too much fun putting this together.

What did I miss?

Harsh Reality: Indiana did not do Grant Gelon wrong, getting cut is part of sports

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What happened to Grant Gelon sucks, and I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would try to argue otherwise.

A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Crown Point, Indiana, Gelon accepted a scholarship offer from then-Indiana head coach Tom Crean as a member of the Class of 2016. His commitment was something of a surprise at the time; Gelon was a two-star prospect, according to Rivals, and ranked 402nd in the class, according to 247 Sports. At the time, Gelon reportedly had seven scholarship offers: Central Michigan, UIC, Toledo, Iona, Youngstown State, IUPUI and Western Carolina.

It was a reach for Crean, but it was also a dream come true for an Indiana kid getting a chance to don the cream and crimson.

Which is what made what happened this spring particularly painful.

Crean was fired on March 16th. Indiana hired Archie Miller to replace him on March 27th. Five weeks later, after a handful of workouts with the new coaching staff, Miller called Gelon into his office — the date, according to the Northwest Indiana Times, was May 3rd — and told him that he was being cut. There was not going to be minutes available, the staff said, for a sophomore that played in just 12 games last season, and that finding a place to transfer would be Gelon’s best option.

“I told them I wanted to stay,” Gelon told the Indy Star. “I told them, I’m making my mind up, I’m gonna push hard, show them what I can do, I’m here for a reason. When I said that, it was like, ‘Whoa, slow down.’ They were kind of making that sound like it wasn’t an option.”

That’s because it wasn’t.

Miller was cutting Gelon.

He was not cutting his scholarship, mind you. The Indiana student-athlete bill of rights protects players from losing their tuition due to poor performance on the court or the field. Gelon would still be getting his education paid for if he opted to remain at Indiana, he just wouldn’t be playing for the Hoosiers. Gelon’s departure opened up a scholarship for the Hoosiers that eventually went to Race Thompson, a four-star power forward that reclassified into the Class of 2017 in order to enroll at Indiana this year.

“Coach Miller believes honesty in evaluating talent, while often difficult, is the appropriate measure to take at all times and in the best interest of each player,” a statement released by the Indiana athletic department read. “Grant was made aware that our staff believed his abilities were not of the caliber that would allow him to receive playing time of any kind in the future for the IU program.”

I feel for Gelon here. I really do. Getting cut sucks, and everyone reading this now has probably gone through it at some point in their life. It happens all the time, in every sport, at every age group. Once you get to a level in athletics where you’re playing in more than your hometown rec league, it gets competitive. If you’re not good enough, you don’t make the team. That is how this works. Gelon found that out the hard way.

And frankly, what Miller did is not uncommon. It’s called running a player off, and it happens all the time at every program. Gelon had a bad enough season as a freshman that there is no guarantee that he would have kept his spot on the team had Crean kept his job. Simply put, he is not a Big Ten basketball player. I’d wager that two out of every five transfers at the Division I level are the result of a player transferring out of a school — either because he was forced or because the writing was on the wall — to a lower level, one more in line with his skill-set.

That’s what happened with Gelon. He’s now at State Fair Community College in Missouri, where he’ll spend a year before looking to climb his way back into the Division I ranks, most likely at the low-major level.

And no matter how many interviews that he or his family gives, you won’t find me saying that Indiana handled this the wrong way.

Was Miller callous?

That wouldn’t surprise me. He’s not the type of guy to mince words, and there really is not a good way to sugar-coat, ‘You are not good enough for us.’

But Gelon was not having his scholarship taken away. Indiana was living up to their promise of paying for his education. They did not do him wrong. The staff gave him more than a month to prove himself as a player and, eventually, made the decision he would not be in their plans moving forward.

So he was cut. That opening allowed a four-star power forward to enroll this year.

That’s the harsh reality of life in the Big Ten.

And there’s nothing wrong with the coach of a basketball team doing what Miller and Indiana did.

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

Light

A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”