Now that the NBA has released a full list of the players that have declared for the NBA Draft, here are the eight programs that take the biggest hits heading into next season:
Washington: You have to feel for head coach Lorenzo Romar. His Husky team was loaded with talent and potential this season, but with nearly two-thirds of the team playing for the Huskies for the first time this year, their raw ability was masked by the inconsistency that comes with playing freshmen. The line of thinking, however, was that when this group came back next season and teamed with Markelle Fultz, the uber-talented lead guard who, they’d make some real noise in the Pac-12.
And then Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray declared for the draft while announced that they would sign with an agent.
That’s a gut punch, but by the end of the season, it had to be something that Romar knew was coming. Chriss has the chance to be a lottery pick based on the ridiculous tools that he has. He’s a long, long way from being an impact player in the NBA, but he’s the Powerball ticket, the guy that, if he reaches his potential, will end up being an All-Star. Murray is in a similar spot. He’s got the size, athleticism and ability to get in the lane of a point guard at the next level, but he’s a turnover machine that doesn’t shoot it well enough. He’s a borderline first round pick that, if he had returned to school, would have combined with Fultz to form a devastating back court attack.
But instead of seeing that, Washington fans will be left wondering what could have been.
Texas: I think that it’s safe to say that Texas is heading in the right direction with Shaka Smart. He’s getting his guys — kids that fit into that ‘Havoc’ system that he made work at VCU — and he’s landing some big name players from high profile programs within the state of Texas. The problem? With Isaiah Taylor opting to sign with an agent, he’s left with a back court that’s insanely young and a front court that was decimated by graduation. With Taylor, the Longhorns had the pieces to make a push for the top 15, if star freshman Andrew Jones and company rode the coattails of their would-be senior leader. Without him? Let’s put it like this: starting freshman point guards in the Big 12 is not ideal.
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UNLV: Everything about UNLV’s offseason was an L for the Runnin’ Rebels, and the players they lost to the NBA Draft certainly fell into that category. Stephen Zimmerman was a lock to be headed to the professional ranks after one season with UNLV, but Patrick McCaw, Chris Obekpa, Derrick Jones and Goodluck Okonoboh — who technically transferred out of UNLV without actually transferring anywhere — all are gone for good.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers have reached a point where ‘Press Virginia’ is the kind of system that will keep them relevant regardless of who they lose. Next Man Up works for Bobby Huggins’ guys. But the system is built around the idea that, when they score, they can throw on their press. And not only did they lose their best perimeter scorer in JaySean Paige to graduation, but their best post scorer and offensive rebounder — Devin Williams — declared for the draft and will sign with an agent. That’s a tough break.
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N.C. State: The Wolfpack have undergone a makeover this offseason, with turnover on their coaching staff and players leaving the program. Cat Barber was the biggest name, and he declared for the draft while signing with an agent. That loss is mitigated by — and, potentially, created by — the addition of freshman Dennis Smith Jr. The big question mark now: Will Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya stay in the draft or return to school?
Oakland: The Grizzlies had a chance to be one of the nation’s best mid-major teams again next season because they were returning one of the best mid-major players: Kahlil Felder, who averaged 24 points and nine assists as a junior. Felder opted to enter the NBA Draft and sign with an agent. That’s a loss that Oakland cannot recover from.
Maryland: There wasn’t much shock when Diamond Stone, a top ten recruit that was always going to be a one-and-done player, announced that he would be signing with an agent. It was somewhat surprising when Robert Carter Jr. did the same. Mark Turgeon’s club could overcome those losses, but what they won’t be able to overcome is Melo Trimble opting to remain in the draft.
Vanderbilt: Vandy was one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball this season, and new head coach Bryce Drew won’t have it any easier as he will have to find a way to replace big man Damian Jones and point guard Wade Baldwin IV.