The most important NBA Draft decisions left to be made

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

News has leaked that both Grayson Allen and Thomas Bryant will be retuning to play their junior and sophomore seasons, respectively, without so much as going through the NBA’s draft process.

No combine. No NBA Draft workouts. Nothing.

They’re back, meaning that Duke will be the preseason No. 1 team in the country and that Indiana may crack the preseason top 15 for the second straight season. But for a number of other teams, who are still waiting for kids to declare for the draft — or, given the new rules that have been implemented, announce whether or not they’re signing with an agent — their prospects for next season remain somewhat in limbo.

Here are the 12 most important NBA Draft decisions that are left to be made:

O.G. Anunoby and Troy Williams, Indiana: We found out on Thursday that Thomas Bryant will be returning to the Hoosiers. It’s thought that Anunoby will be joining him back in Bloomington next season, while Williams’ future is still up in the air. The Hoosiers are going to have a lot of work to do to replace Yogi Ferrell, but it’s worth noting that they really took off last season when Tom Crean started using Williams and Anunoby together. They give him versatility and athleticism.

Trevon Blueitt, Xavier: Blueitt has declared for the draft but has not yet signed with an agent. He’s a versatile forward that was Xavier’s leading scorer last season. With James Farr leaving and Jalen Reynolds also putting his name in the draft, the Musketeers will be replacing quite a bit of their front line if they lose Blueitt as well.

Dillon Brooks, Oregon: With Brooks, a 6-foot-6 wing forward that played the role of small-ball four for the Ducks, Oregon looks like they’ll be a top five team in the country next season. They’ll still be good without him, but his presence makes them so much more versatile and dangerous offensively.

Deyonta Davis, Michigan State: Davis is in a similar position to where Jakob Poeltl was last season. He can leave now and get drafted somewhere from the late-lottery to the late-first round based almost solely on his potential, or he can come back for a year and work hard enough that he becomes more of a player than a prospect. Poeltl has an outside shot of going top five this season. If the Spartans get Davis back, they’ll be in the conversation with Kentucky and Kansas (plus Josh Jackson) for the No. 2 spot in our preseason top 25.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Assuming Kris Jenkins makes the decision to return to school, Hart is the name that is really in question for the reigning national champs. He’s the piece that makes everything else fit together with his ability to rebound the ball and defend bigger players at the small forward spot. With Hart and Jenkins back, we have the Wildcats as the No. 3 team in our preseason top 25. Without them, I’m not sure they would be top 20.

Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga: The Zags should be good whether or not Karnowski opts to try and take advantage of his chance to get a fifth season with a medical hardship waiver, but getting back their best low-post scorer and rim protector would be key.

Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson, Syracuse: Lydon and Richardson became one of the most promising, and dangerous, freshmen combos in the country by the end of the season, with both playing major roles in leading Syracuse to the Final Four. There is some question over just how good the Orange will be next season, but there’s no arguing that losing their best perimeter scorer and their best front court shooter would be a massive blow. With both of them returning, we had Syracuse as a top 20 team in our preseason top 25.

Monte’ Morris, Iowa State: It goes without saying that Morris will be the best player on the Cyclones should he return next season. Without him, ISU will be in full blown rebuilding mode. With him, they’ll have a shot to be pretty good. Remember, when Steve Prohm had his best teams at Murray State, they were built around superstar guards. (UPDATE: Morris is returning to school.)

Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville: The Cardinals should be really good next season even if Onuaku stays in the draft, like many expect him to. But if he does return, we’re looking at a Louisville team that could crack the preseason top 10, as Onuaku was their best, and most physical, front court player last season.

Isaiah Taylor, Texas: Taylor is the perfect point guard for Shaka Smart’s ‘Havoc’ system, and with another influx of talented wings coming into the program, we should be seeing more ‘Havoc’ out of the Longhorns next season. Taylor has declared for the draft, but he has not signed with an agent. His return is the difference between the Longhorns being a real Big 12 contender and being a borderline top 25 team.

Melo Trimble, Maryland: We know how good Melo can be when he’s playing well. He was the biggest reason that Maryland was a top 20 team when he was a freshman. We also know what it means for Maryland when Melo is mortal, which is the biggest reason Maryland was only top 20 this past season. If he returns, the Terps will be relevant in the Big Ten next season. If he doesn’t, they’ll be a borderline top 25 team at best.

Mo Watson, Creighton: If you’ve never seen Creighton play, you may not know about good Watson is. He and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be one of, if not the best back court in college basketball next season … if Watson returns.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”


Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.


At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.


Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.