College basketball’s six biggest early entry winners for the 2015-2016 season

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The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft came and went at midnight on Sunday night, meaning that we now know what rosters will more or less look like for the 2015-16 season.

Here are the six biggest winners from this year’s draft deadline:

READ MORE: Complete Early Entry List | 2015-16 Preseason Top 25

1. North Carolina: The Tar Heels will enter 2015-16 as’s preseason No. 1 team in the country, and that’s entirely due to who they are bringing back this year. Star guard Marcus Paige will be back — and, more importantly, healthy — for his senior season, while Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks all return up front. Throw in the return of Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, and the Tar Heels will have talent, size, athleticism and depth at every position on their roster.

2. Maryland: The biggest news for the Terrapins this spring was Diamond Stone, a top ten recruit in the Class of 2015, deciding to play his college ball in College Park, but that’s not what has them ranked No. 3 in the preseason top 25. Not only will Mark Turgeon get another season to coach star point guard Melo Trimble, but talented wing Jake Layman — a potential first round pick — will be back for another season as well.

3. Providence: There’s an argument to be made that the single-most important early entry decision made this season was that of Providence point guard Kris Dunn. Dunn would have been a likely lottery pick had he declared for the draft. Instead, he returned to school, making Providence a likely NCAA tournament team and himself a potential preseason Player of the Year.

RELATED: NBA Draft early entry deadline’s seven biggest losers

4. Indiana: Earlier this spring, both Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr. announced that they would be returning to Bloomington for another season. That, combined with the addition of freshman Thomas Bryant, made the Hoosiers appear to be a potential tournament team. But on Sunday, star point guard Yogi Ferrell announced that he will be returning to school for his senior season. He’s the kind of dynamic point guard that will make Indiana’s uptempo, spread offense effective. He’s also the only true point guard on the Indiana roster. With Ferrell, Williams and Blackmon all back, Indiana is a preseason top 15 team.

5. Oklahoma: The Sooners will again be a contender in the Big 12 in 2015-16 after star guard Buddy Hield announced that he will be returning to Norman for his senior season. Hield was the 2015 Big 12 Player of the Year and a potential first round pick. With him back, the Sooners should be a preseason top 15 team.

6. Wichita State: The biggest win for the Shockers was getting Gregg Marshall back, as the Wichita State head coach turned down overtures from a number of schools. Marshall’s decision to return no doubt played a role in the decision for Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker to return to school. VanVleet was probably always going to be back, but there was a real chance that Baker, a borderline first round pick, could have headed to the NBA. With that trio back in the fold, the Shockers are once again a potential Sweet 16 team.


  • Michigan: The Wolverines caught a break when Caris LeVert, a preseason all-american this past season, decided to return to school for his senior year.
  • Utah: Jakob Poeltl was a potential lottery pick. The seven-footer decided to return to school, giving Utah a rock to build their defense around.
  • Cal: The Bears bring back Tyrone Wallace, meaning that, with the addition of Ivan Rabb, Cal will be a preseason top 25 team.
  • Gonzaga: The Zags lose Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, but their front line — Kyle Wiltjer, Domas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski — all decided against entering the NBA Draft.
  • Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish will have a chance to be relevant again next season with Demetrius Jackson returning to school. He’ll be a preseason all-american.
  • Kansas: Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre are off to the NBA, but Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden both opted to return to school.
  • Vanderbilt: The Commodores are a borderline top 25 team thanks in large part to the fact that Damian Jones will be back to anchor that roster.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.