2016 Early Entry

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Alec Peters to return for senior year at Valparaiso

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Of all the early entrants to enter the NBA Draft earlier this spring, Valparaiso forward Alec Peters likely had the most interesting set of choices. Of course there was the matter of whether or not to remain in the draft. But in the case of Peters, as a player graduating with a season of eligibility remaining, there was also the question of whether or not he’d use that year at Valpo or another school had he decided to return to college.

Monday afternoon it was reported that Peters, who just before last week’s deadline withdrew his name from the NBA Draft, will in fact return to Valparaiso for his senior season. News of Peters’ decision was first reported by CBSSports.com. That means he won’t reunite with Bryce Drew, who coached Peters the last three years before taking the Vanderbilt job earlier this spring.

As a result of Peters’ decision a player who would have been in high demand as a graduate student (he graduated in three years) will be the focal point of new head coach Matt Lottich’s first team at Valpo. With Horizon League POY Kahlil Felder leaving Oakland, Peters will be the clear favorite for league player of the year honors next fall.

As a junior the 6-foot-9 Peters averaged 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Crusaders, who won 30 games, the Horizon League regular season title and reached the championship game of the Postseason NIT. Peters’ ability to score in an efficient manner from anywhere on the court makes him not only the top returnee in the Horizon League but also one of the top seniors in college basketball heading into next season.

In spite of some key personnel losses, most notably defensive stalwart Vashil Fernandez, the Crusaders will return three of their top four scorers (Peters, Shane Hammink and Tevonn Walker). That will help Lottich as he looks to pick up where his boss left off.

NEW PODCAST: NBA Draft deadline winners and losers

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With the change to the NCAA deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft moving from mid-April to May 25, college programs and fan bases across the country anxiously awaited Wednesday night’s deadline for news on players still going through the decision-making process.

With the dust having settled Thursday morning, the NBC Sports College Basketball Talk crew (Rob Dauster, Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips) got together to discuss the winners and losers. Among those discussed are Oregon, four Big Ten teams (Indiana, Maryland, Purdue and Wisconsin), and USC. It should be noted that Maryland was discussed before news of Justin Jackson’s commitment broke, so their front court looks a little different due to that.

We also touched on our updates to the Top 25, with the Boilermakers making a move up in the rankings, and Marcus Lee’s decision to transfer from Kentucky. As always, you can either click “play” in the Soundcloud player below or listen via iTunes or the Stitcher app. Thanks for listening!

Nevada forward Cameron Oliver to return for sophomore season

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With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA Draft set for Wednesday, some college basketball teams will receive important news as it pertains to the 2016-17 campaign. One of those teams was Nevada, which surprised many last season by winning 24 games in Eric Musselman’s first season at the helm. And with one of the key contributors from that team deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft, the Wolf Pack will be well positioned to be even better in 2016-17.

Forward Cameron Oliver, who was one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen this past season, will return to Reno for his sophomore season with Musselman making the news official Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 Oliver averaged 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Nevada, shooting 50.8 percent from the field in his debut season. Oliver was named third team All-Mountain West while also earning conference All-Defensive team honors.

Oliver and wing D.J. Fenner (13.7 ppg) are the team’s top two returning scorers, with guard Marqueze Coleman (15.1 ppg) out of eligibility, and they’ll lead the way for a team that can contend in the Mountain West next season.

In addition to Oliver and Fenner, Nevada adds two talented transfers in Leland King and Marcus Marshall, with the latter averaging 19.5 points per game at Missouri State in 2014-15.

Memphis forward Lawson to return for sophomore season

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Less than a week after going through the NBA Draft Combine, one of the most productive freshmen in the country last season has decided to return for his sophomore campaign.

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson, who earlier this spring went back and forth on whether or not to enter his name into the Draft (his father’s status on staff could have played a role in that), will return to school to play for new head coach Tubby Smith. Lawson’s decision was first reported by CBSSports.com.

Last season Lawson averaged 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, earning American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors as a result. With head coach Josh Pastner leaving for Georgia Tech the question many had was what would happen with Lawson’s father, who was an assistant each of the last two seasons, when Smith was hired from Texas Tech.

Ultimately the changing of an NCAA rule allowed Smith to reassign the elder Lawson to keep him in the fold, albeit in a non-coaching role. Dedric went on to go through the pre-Draft process to get feedback from NBA scouts and executives, with the decision being made that another year in college would be best for him. Lawson’s return gives Memphis a clear go-to option offensively, and he has the talent to (at minimum) make a run at conference Player of the Year honors in 2016-17.

Reports: NC State forward BeeJay Anya withdraws from NBA Draft

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Forward Abdul-Malik Abu wasn’t the only key player to decide that he’ll be returning to NC State for the 2016-17 season Thursday.

According to multiple outlets fellow forward BeeJay Anya has also decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft, giving the Wolfpack another boost in the front court. As a junior he averaged 4.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, continuing to improve from a stamina standpoint. Anya played just over 23 minutes per game last season, up from the 19.4 minutes per game he played as a sophomore.

With Turkish forward Omer Yurtseven and Darius Hicks signing with NC State, a team that at one point looked to be in significant trouble thanks to some transfers should be fine next year in the front court with Lennard Freeman returning as well. NC State will also add talent on the perimeter, with five-star point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn joining the ranks and a healthy Terry Henderson being available after missing most of last season.

They’ll join rising sophomore Maverick Rowan, who averaged 12.8 points per game

How good can NC State be next season? Smith, who missed his senior year with a torn ACL, will be key in that regard. If he hits the ground running, the Wolfpack can make a return to the NCAA tournament after missing out a season ago. And that will likely be the preseason expectation for this group, even with the ACC once again setting up to be a very tough league.

North Carolina’s Jackson to return for junior season

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With the NBA Draft Combine wrapping up Friday evening, players with college eligibility remaining who declared without hiring an agent had until May 25 to make a final decision. One of those players was North Carolina wing Justin Jackson, whose decision was expected to have a significant impact on the Tar Heels’ national title chances in 2016-17.

Monday evening the school announced that Jackson has decided to withdraw from the draft, and he’ll return for his junior season at North Carolina.

“I’m glad I had the chance to enter the Draft and attend the Combine where I was able to meet with a number of NBA executives and test my game against some of the top players in the country, but after discussing it with my parents and coaches and praying over this decision, the best choice for my basketball future is to return to school and play for the Tar Heels next season,” Jackson said in the release.

Jackson joins power forward Kennedy Meeks as North Carolina players who decided to return to school, giving Roy Williams two experienced players to call upon next season. North Carolina did lose three seniors, guard Marcus Paige and forwards Brice Johnson and Joel James, but they have enough coming back to make a run at another ACC title (with Duke being viewed by many as the early favorite) and deep NCAA tournament run.

Jackson, Meeks and Joel Berry II are all returning starters, and reserves such and Nate Britt, Theo Pinson and Isaiah Hicks return as well. North Carolina also adds a three-member recruiting class in guards Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson, and power forward Tony Bradley.