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.