I know I’m getting way ahead of myself — we still got two weekends left of college basketball! — but it’s never too early to start thinking about what could be for next season.
As the tournament unfolds, a number of teams appear to be just a piece or two away from becoming a top 10 mainstay in 2012. The problem is, though, that piece may leave for NBA – drastically altering the potential of these program’s next season.
Here are five players probably on the fence about leaving school for a nice little paycheck, but should probably stick around campus just one more year to try and chase glory.
- Harrison Barnes (North Carolina) – It’s really selfish of me to ask for Barnes to stay. As one of the nation’s top rated freshman, Barnes got off to a slow start really because the Tar Heels didn’t have an adequate point guard for the first half of the season. Once Larry Drew III skipped town Barnes really felt more comfortable on offense and displayed his versatile skill set. As a likely top 10 pick in a weak draft, I would suspect he’s a goner, but he could win a ton of POY awards (and maybe a national championship) if he sticks around for a sophomore campaign.
- Darius Morris (Michigan) – DON’T DO IT!!! DO NOT RUIN THIS AND TEST THE WATERS! After nearly upsetting Duke in the second round last weekend, the buzz leaving the Charlotte Arena was how good the Wolverines could be next season. Sometimes we love potential just as much as what is actually happening, and Morris is the key cog in a potentially banner season up in Ann Arbor. If he sticks around, all of the Wolverines regulars would be back in 2011-2012.
- Patric Young (Florida) -It’s unclear where Young would be selected in the draft if he left Gainesville. But it is clear he has plenty more to learn at the college level…and if he’s interested in that it would really solidify the Gators frontcourt for next season. With Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin all graduating, almost half of the team’s rebounds are left for Young to grab, and he would really compliment as deep backcourt and likely get the Gators back to (at least) the Sweet 16 next season.
- Brandon Knight (Kentucky) -Terrence Jones will likely bolt for the pros, but that doesn’t mean the Wildcat’s can’t enter next season as the pre-season #1. Knight has really blossomed since the fall, but there’s a real opportunity to hone his dribble-drive game as a sophomore, and leave an indelible mark on Lexington with a national championship. UK’s 2011 recruiting class is freak nasty, and you could even move Marquis Teague to the two-guard and let him attack off the wing.
- Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA) – There’s a lot to like in Westwood, but what could be really hinges on whether or not Honeycutt bolts for the NBA. With a handful of pro prospects, Honeycutt is the only player of that bunch currently with first round potential. Malcolm Lee and Josh Smith still need some seasoning, but this trio could certainly help make up an excellent core of players next season.
Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelin.