The deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility passed on Sunday night and we take a closer look at the decisions:
Five guys who got it right:
1. Reggie Jackson, Boston College: Gone
Have you looked at Steve Donahue’s roster next season? Jackson’s game will translate more effectively at the next level – and he should be a lock first-rounder – especially with lack of talent in this year’s draft.
2. Terrence Jones, Kentucky: Staying
On the surface, with a terrific recruiting class coming to Lexington, many would question why Jones stuck around. But the talented forward isn’t close to ready for the NBA – he’s inconsistent and immature. NBA types told me he would have gone somewhere from 10-15 this year. He’ll probably move up slightly next year, but he can help win a national title and be better prepared for the next level.
3. Shelvin Mack, Butler: Gone
I wrestled with this decision because Mack is a fringe first-rounder. Butler, however, will be down this season with the departure of Matt Howard – and Mack’s stock likely won’t be much higher than it is right now.
4. Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh: Staying
Although some had him pegged as gone, Gibbs was too smart at the end of the day. He needed to come back for another year at Pitt.
5. DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky: Gone
Let’s be honest. Liggins wasn’t going to get a chance to expand his offensive game next season with guys like Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis coming to town. He is what he is: A role guy who can defend. And with this draft being so weak, this was his best chance to earn guaranteed money.
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING
A handful of guys that need a do-over:
1. Jereme Richmond, Illinois: Gone
I know there were issues between Richmond and Illini coach Bruce Weber, but this is a kid that could have soared up the draft board with another year of maturity and an improved jump shot. Now he may be fortunate to stick in the NBA.
2. Josh Selby, Kansas: Gone
His stock will never be lower than it is right now after a train wreck of a college season. If he came back, with the departure of the Morris Twins, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, Selby would have gotten what he wanted: to be a go-to guy in Lawrence.
3. Cory Joseph, Texas: Gone
He’s extremely talented, but could have seen his draft stock soar next season with Jordan Hamilton headed to the NBA. Joseph would have teamed with unselfish fellow Canadian Myck Kabongo in the backcourt and moved himself far higher than he’ll be taken this season.
4. Travis Leslie, Georgia: Gone
With the departure of teammate Trey Thompkins, the athletic Leslie would have received a chance to be a focal point of Mark Fox’s offense. His skill set needs to improve significantly.
5. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Staying
Listen, I am as big of a fan of Sullinger and his decision as anyone. But if I was his advisor, I would have told him to go. He’s a likely Top 5 pick. His stock will only drop and what you see is what you get with Sullinger. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the NBA right now.
ULTIMATE LOSER: Ben Howland – The UCLA coach has been hit hard by early entries from Kevin Love to Jrue Holiday, but the loss of both Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee took the Bruins from a potential Final Four team to one that may have difficulty winning a game in the NCAA tournament next year.
#WINNING: Kevin Stallings – Vanderbilt’s coach had three guys that may have been drafted somewhere and none of them – Jeff Taylor, Festus Ezeli and John Jenkins – even tested the waters. The Commodores are a legit top 10 preseason team.
STILL UP IN THE AIR: Darius Morris – If he had returned, Michigan would have been a top 20 team. Instead, Morris is gone – and it’ll be interesting to see if his decision pays off. He’s a talented point guard with size, but without a perimeter shot. However, the draft is brutal – especially at the point guard spot – so Morris could make his way into the first round.
WE HARDLY KNEW YA’: Duke’s Kyrie Irving played just 11 college games before deciding that was enough in Durham. He’ll likely be the No. 1 overall pick.
WE’LL MISS YOU: Shelvin Mack – While Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward received most of the attention at Butler, the unheralded Mack – a Lexington, Ky., native who wasn’t ranked by anyone coming out of high school – was the unsung hero for the Bulldogs’ success over the past couple years. Mack was tough, charismatic and really matured in his three years in college.
ULTIMATE NO-BRAINER: Kemba Walker – Everyone said he was honored on Senior Night because he was set to get his degree in three years, but the truth was Walker knew he wasn’t coming back. Then Walker went out and dominated at the Big East tourney and helped the Huskies win the national title – and had no choice but to leave Storrs now.
MOST UNDERRATED RETURN: David Loubeau – Texas A&M’s junior forward averaged 11.8 points and five boards last season and his decision to come back for his senior season makes the Aggies a legitimate contender for the Big 12 crown. Leading scorer Khris Middleton is also back and coach Mark Turgeon adds Washington transfer Elston Turner and talented freshman Jamal Branch.
MOST IMPORTANT UNDER-THE-RADAR DECISION: Valparaiso junior guard Brandon Wood put his name in for the draft, but will withdraw and transfer to play his one remaining year at Michigan State. Wood averaged 16.7 points at Valpo last season and he’ll give Tom Izzo a much-needed lift in the backcourt this season.
MOST OVERRATED DEPARTURE: Jeremy Green – He has been suspended twice in the last year and is basically just a scorer. Stanford has no shortage of young talent that will be able to develop with the departure of Green. Guys like sophomores Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown and talented incoming freshman Chasson Randle.
LEAGUE HIT HARDEST: Pac-12. Derrick Williams left early from Arizona, Honeycutt and Lee bolted from UCLA, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto from Washington State, Isaiah Thomas (Washington), Nikola Vucevic (USC) Jeremy Green (Stanford). That’s eight if you’re counting at home. That’s a huge blow to a league that has been sub-par the last couple of years.