2014 Early Entrants

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UCLA’s Jordan Adams changes mind, will enter 2014 NBA Draft

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Nine days after announcing that he would return to UCLA for his junior season, guard Jordan Adams had a change of heart. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Adams has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. The decision falls on the day of the NBA’s early entry deadline.

Adams, who averaged 17.4 points per game and earned first team All Pac-12 honors, was projected to be a late-first round selection by Draft Express before announcing that he would return to school. He’s the third Bruin to enter the NBA Draft this offseason, with point guard Kyle Anderson and shooting guard Zach LaVine doing so shortly after the end of UCLA’s season.

And with those three departures and the graduation of forwards David and Travis Wear, head coach Steve Alford has a lot of production to replace in 2014-15. UCLA’s leading returning scorer will be Norman Powell, who early this month was thought by some to be considering the possibility of turning pro as well. Powell averaged 11.4 points per game and was a much-improved offensive player in his first season playing for Alford.

Also returning is rising sophomore guard Bryce Alford, who averaged 8.0 points and 2.8 assists per game as one of the first two players off the bench (LaVine being the other). UCLA adds a four-member recruiting class led by forward Kevon Looney and center Thomas Welch, and they’ll also have guard Isaac Hamilton. Hamilton was forced to sit out all of last season his appeal to be released from the National Letter of Intent he signed to attend UTEP was denied.

But even with the talent due to arrive on campus, the loss of Adams hurts for a team that was thought to be one of Arizona’s biggest challengers in the Pac-12 with the high-scoring guard on board.

UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels to enter NBA Draft

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UConn’s chances of repeating as national champions next season hinged, in part, on the decisions of guard Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels. With both considering entering the 2014 NBA Draft, head coach Kevin Ollie would have more holes to fill with Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and Lasan Kromah out of eligibility if those two juniors were to leave.

And Friday afternoon it was learned that there will be one more hole to fill.

As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that Daniels, whose improved play during the NCAA tournament made him a more enticing prospect to NBA scouts, has decided to forego his final season of eligibility and enter his name into the 2014 NBA Draft pool.

MOREThe list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Daniels averaged 13.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a junior, and in the NCAA tournament he found the level of consistency that wasn’t always there during the regular season. Daniels reached double figures in five of UConn’s six NCAA tournament wins, including a 27-point, ten-rebound performance in their Sweet 16 win over Iowa State.

Draft Express projects Daniels, who was one of the best high school players in his class back in 2011, to be a late-first round selection.

Harrison twins will return to Kentucky for sophomore seasons

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While most of Kentucky’s roster for the 2014-15 season has been known, the decisions of twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison with regards to the NBA Draft had yet to be made. Both played better basketball during the NCAA tournament, which impacted the thought processes of both players as they debated whether to turn pro or return to Lexington for another season.

And on Friday afternoon it was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski that the twins have decided to return to school for their sophomore seasons, giving Kentucky a major personnel boost in the backcourt.

The twins formally announced their decisions shortly after the news broke, confirming the news that they will be back in Lexington next season.

Andrew averaged 10.8 points and 4.0 assists per game as a freshman, with Aaron accounting for 13.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. Both struggled during the latter portion of the regular season, but once tournament (both SEC and NCAA) play began the tandem played much better basketball. And with more strides to be made for both, the Harrison twins should be even better in 2014-15.

As for Kentucky’s perimeter rotation, the returns are important for a group that would have been very young had the Harrisons decided to turn pro. Head coach John Calipari added Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker on the recruiting trail, and Dominique Hawkins will be a sophomore.

There’s been a great deal of discussion about Kentucky’s front court depth (and talent) and rightfully so, but the guard play will be just as important if the Wildcats are to win the program’s ninth national title next season. And with the Harrisons deciding that they want to take another shot at winning it all, Kentucky becomes the early favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis next April.

Michigan’s Mitch McGary enters 2014 NBA Draft under less than ideal circumstances

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With Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III having already decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, the Michigan basketball program was still waiting to find out what sophomore forward Mitch McGary would do. Friday morning the school announced that McGary, who played in just eight games this past season due to a lower back injury, would forego his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.

However, what is normally seen as a joyous occasion for an athlete may not exactly be the case for McGary. Why? Because in the announcement, McGary also disclosed that he was facing a year-long suspension after failing an NCAA-administered drug test during the NCAA tournament.

“My family and I want to thank everyone for giving us privacy and the time to make this decision,” McGary said in the release. “As you know, it was important for us to weigh all the factors that go into something like this. With that being said, I am ready to move on to the next stage in my life and enter the NBA Draft.

“Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.

“I take full responsibility for this poor choice and want to apologize to everyone, especially those I have grown close to during my fabulous two years at the University of Michigan.”

Following every NCAA tournament game the governing body randomly selects a couple players to undergo a drug test, and the penalty for failing are quite severe. Failing an NCAA-administered drug test carries a one-year suspension, even for a drug such as marijuana.

As for drug tests administered by schools throughout the season, the consequences for a first-time positive are generally far less severe since they’re allowed to set their own policies. Michigan’s policy is that an athlete would spend a week away from the team miss 10% of the team’s games for a first-time positive.

The NCAA in mid-April announced that one of the changes being considered was the lessening of penalties for testing positive for marijuana, with the governing body ruling that it is not a performance-enhancing drug. However with that change not going into effect until August 1, that clearly wasn’t going to help McGary’s case. Under that new policy, a positive test would cost an athlete half their season as opposed to all of it.

But even with that being the case many will wonder how (or why) a player who wasn’t playing due to injury would be drawn for a random drug test. Unfortunately for Michigan, they’ll be without a key interior component as a result.

The Wolverines have now lost McGary, Jordan Morgan (graduation) and Jon Horford (transfer) from its front court, meaning that young players such as redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt and newcomers Ricky Doyle and D.J. Wilson will have a lot on their collective shoulders in 2014-15.

UNLV junior forward Khem Birch to enter 2014 NBA Draft

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With one of the nation’s best recruiting classes on the way and a senior point guard who could be the “missing piece” for a program that lacked consistency at the position in 2013-14, UNLV is a program that will have high expectations in 2014-15. But even with that talent there’s a need for a defensive anchor, and the Runnin’ Rebels will need to find one as junior forward Khem Birch announced his decision to turn pro on Thursday.

MOREThe list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Birch, who averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game last season, was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. Draft Express ranks Birch 61st on its list of the Top 100 draft prospects. He’s now the second UNLV player to make the decision to turn pro this offseason, with Roscoe Smith being the other, and that will impact Dave Rice’s team especially on the defensive end.

UNLV ranked third in the Mountain West in field goal percentage defense and second in three-point percentage defensive in 2013-14, and with Birch and Smith gone other front court players will need to step up.

Christian Wood, the lone returning member of the front court rotation, will be asked to be a leader for this group with freshmen Demetris Morant (redshirted in 2013-14) and Goodluck Okonoboh also being key figures. Oregon transfer Ben Carter will be able to help out in practice but that’s it, as he’ll have to sit per NCAA transfer rules.

UNLV will have athleticism in the front court next season but they won’t have much in the way of experience. The question now is whether or not that will keep the Runnin’ Rebels from getting back to the NCAA tournament after missing out in 2013-14.

Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie enters 2014 NBA Draft

Spencer Dinwiddie
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Despite missing the final two months of the season with a torn ACL, Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie was a player expected to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. And on Thursday the Los Angeles native made it official, announcing in Boulder that he would forego his final season of college eligibility.

MOREThe list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Dinwiddie averaged 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 17 games as a junior, and while his scoring average was higher as a sophomore (15.3 ppg) his shooting percentages were better in 2013-14. Dinwiddie shot 46.6% from the field, 41.3% from three and 87.2% from the foul line before suffering that season-ending injury at Washington on January 21.

With his size Dinwiddie can play either guard position, with the majority of his time at Colorado being spent at the point. The size and defensive ability are two assets that are expected to serve him well at the next level. Dinwiddie was projected to be a first-round draft pick prior to the injury, and the question now is just how much of an impact the knee injury will have on his prospects in the weeks leading up to the June draft.

As for Colorado and what head coach Tad Boyle will do to account for Dinwiddie’s departure, the Buffaloes won’t lack for experience on the perimeter. Askia Booker spent more time on the ball in the aftermath of Dinwiddie’s injury, and Xavier Talton moved into the starting lineup.

Colorado also returns three rising sophomores in Jaron Hopkins, Tre’Shaun Fletcher and George King, and incoming freshman point guard Dominique Collier is expected to compete for minutes upon his arrival on campus. Arizona’s the clear favorite to win the Pac-12 next season, but there are a number of teams (including Colorado) who hope to factor into the race.

Losing Dinwiddie hurts, but with Booker and forward Josh Scott among the returnees Colorado is capable of being in that mix.