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

FIVE BIGGEST LOSERS

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: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.