Now that the NBA has released a full list of the players that have declared for the NBA Draft, here are the seven programs that will be the most excited about not seeing their players on that list:
Duke: The Blue Devils were already going to be the Preseason No. 1 team before they got the news that Grayson Allen — and, to a lesser extent, Amile Jefferson — were returning to school. Allen was a second-team all-american last season and a prospect that had a chance to end up being a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Instead, he’ll be returning to the Blue Devils to try and finish his degree in three years, win a second national title and put together the kind of historic season a team with this much talent always aspires to. Allen is probably not the best prospect to skip out on the draft, but he is the best player from last season that we know is coming back.
The Blue Devils also return Amile Jefferson, who will be a fifth-year senior after he received a medical redshirt for last season. Jefferson likely would not have been an NBA Draft pick, but he has the potential for a professional future overseas. It’s not uncommon to see guys that finish their undergraduate degree opt to pursue a contract in Europe over playing out their fifth-year. Those two will give a Duke team loaded with soon-to-be lottery picks playing out their one-and-done year — Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, maybe Marques Bolden? — a strong veteran presence and an ideally balanced starting five.
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Indiana: The Hoosiers still don’t have all the answers as to who is going to be returning this season — James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams have declared for the draft without signing for an agent — but Tom Crean’s crew already received two fantastic pieces of news, as Thomas Bryant and O.G. Anunoby both opted to skip the draft this year. Bryant’s the big name here, as he’s a potential lottery pick in 2017, a young and talented defensive presence that’s still learning the game. And while Bryant entered the season with all the hype, it’s Anunoby that was the most pleasant surprise of the season. Another guy with future first round potential, Anunoby’s a versatile defender — his emergence was a major part of Indiana’s season turning around — that should give Hoosier fans some comfort that all is not lost if Williams stays in the draft.
Syracuse: The Orange are still waiting to hear back from Malachi Richardson, the freshman who had the breakout NCAA tournament and opted to enter his name in the NBA Draft. Richardson is a big time shooter on the wing that would help Syracuse stretch the floor and give them the size and athleticism that Jim Boeheim loves in that 2-3 zone. But the big news for them is that Tyler Lydon opted not to declare for the draft, and for my money, Lydon is going to end up being their most important player next season. He’s a knock-down three-point shooter that can defend the rim at the other end of the floor. He makes Syracuse hard to guard and gives them lineup versatility when their two best big men — Paschal Chukwu and Tyler Roberson — aren’t effective offensively if they aren’t dunking.
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Iowa State: The Cyclones lose quite a bit from last season’s team, but they return Monte’ Morris, a potential all-american point guard. Morris will not make up for the departure of guys like Georges Niang, Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay, but he is good enough that he’ll keep Iowa State out of the Big 12’s cellar next season. Remember: When Steve Prohm had his best teams at Murray State, they both had super-talented, future NBA guards that they were built around. That’s precisely what Morris is. The big question now: If Deonte Burton and Emmanuel Malou stay in the draft, are the Cyclones actually going to have enough bodies to compete in that league?
Cal: Losing Jaylen Brown is going to hurt the Bears, but that was expected. He was always going to be one-and-done. He was supposed to be joined by Ivan Rabb in the one-and-done ranks, but Rabb announced shortly after the deadline to declare for the draft had passed that he was taking a pass of his own. He very likely would have been a first round pick this season. Instead, he’ll anchor the front line for Cuonzo Martin once again. The Bears likely aren’t going to make all that much noise in the Pac-12 next season, but like Morris, Rabb keep Cal from the basement.
Xavier: The Musketeers did lose Jalen Reynolds to the draft, but that wasn’t necessarily unexpected. Trevon Blueitt’s name is still in the draft, but it seems fairly likely that he’ll end up returning to school. The most important name for Xavier is Edmond Sumner, a 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman point guard who had a freshman season that was equal parts dominant and frustratingly inconsistent. With a more guard-oriented team coming back, Sumner should be in for a big season.
Florida State: The Seminoles lost Malik Beasley to the NBA Draft, which is a blow, but they returned Dwayne Bacon and should expect to return Xavier Rathan-Mayes, meaning they’ll have a talented back court to pair with Jonathan Isaac, a top 15 prospect in the Class 0f 2016. The reason they’re winners? Because they should still have the talent to be relevant in the ACC this season, but those pieces should fit together better. Isaac is not a player that needs the ball in his hands to be effective, and while he may not score as much as Beasley, it should allow the Seminoles to be a better team overall.