The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is this Wednesday. There are still 13 players whose decisions could have a major impact on college basketball next season.
Here they are:
Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart could be a first-team all-american next season on a Villanova team that will be in the preseason top five as they look to become the first team in a decade to repeat as National Champions. He’s also good enough that there is a shot that he could end up being a first round pick, or, at the very least, be a second rounder that earns a guaranteed contract. That’s not an easy decision to make.
Melo Trimble, Maryland: Trimble was a potential first round pick after his freshman season. A dreadful close to his sophomore year has him as a question mark to even get picked. He needs to go back to school for his junior year and prove that he can shoot and wants to put in the effort on the defensive end.
Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, Oregon: Oregon is coming off a terrific year and looks to be a top five team heading into next season. Brooks and Dorsey are arguably their two best scorers heading into next year, and neither of them were invited to the NBA Combine. In an ideal world, both would make the trek back to Eugene to try and improve their draft stock, but it wouldn’t be that surprising to see either one of them ditch school to pursue the professional route, even if that is overseas.
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Hayes did not have a good junior year. He really struggled shooting the ball down the stretch and did not adjust to life on the perimeter as well as many hoped. But if he returns to school, he could end up being the third-best player on Wisconsin. It’s not an easy decision, but if Hayes truly wants to be a draft pick, he needs to go back to school.
Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead was unbelievable down the stretch of his sophomore season, but he’s a volume scorer that is inefficient with the basketball and a bit undersized to be a two-guard in the NBA. He’s a second round pick, but he may be a second round pick next season given the glut of point guards projected to be in that draft. I’d bet that he’s gone.
Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr., Indiana: Blackmon should absolutely return to school. He’s coming off of an injury, he’s undersized and he’s not a guy that will be able to defend at the next level, but there’s questions about just how well he fits with what Tom Crean is looking to do with the Hoosiers next season. Williams is more of a question mark. He’s undoubtedly an NBA athlete and, at times, he looks like a guy that could be a starter in the NBA. But he’s so inconsistent that there are times that he looks like he should never set foot on a basketball court again. Decision-making and shooting are the keys for Williams, and those are things that can be taught in the NBA. I think he’s gone.
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Swanigan is more versatile than people realize, but he’s still a Land Warrior, a strong and stocky power forward that averaged 10.3 points and 8.2 boards. His guardian is an agent, so he’ll have the best information possible, the question is whether or not he’s OK heading to the next level as a likely second round pick.
Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee, Kentucky: Lee seems to want to head to the professional ranks, but the problem is that he’s just not quite good enough to get to the NBA. That’s at least what NBA minds believe, so the question is whether or not Lee will kickstart his pro career or return and try to improve enough to get picked next season. Briscoe is a more interesting case. He was a terrible shooter as a freshman and likely wouldn’t get picked this season. But he’ll play behind both De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk if he returns to Kentucky, so his chances to showcase his improvement will be limited. Is he OK with potentially being a three-year player for the Wildcats?
Malik Newman, Mississippi State: Newman looked to be a surefire one-and-done player for Ben Howland. Then he got to college and he wasn’t even the best freshman guard on his own team. He’s a second round pick at best if he opts to remain in the draft, and the safe bet is that is what he’ll end up doing.
Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville: The standard belief is that Onuaku would head to the NBA this season. He’s got a chance to be a first round pick this year, but the process is drawing out. There’s still a shot, but if I’m a Louisville fan, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the Yum! Center anytime soon.