Several NBA Draft prospects could return to college where they’d make immediate impacts on NCAA basketball futures.
There’s no time like the present, or so the old saying goes. But for some college basketball players, there’s a way to enjoy both the present and the future at the same time, and their decisions over the next month will impact both NBA and college basketball futures.
With the NBA Draft set for Thursday, June 25, the list of players who could find employment on the professional hardwood includes several dozen college stars who are still in undecided mode. Those with eligibility left at the collegiate level have thrown their names out for consideration, but have not (officially) hired an agent to leave the door open of returning to school this fall. The deadline to make that decision is June 3, unless that’s extended should the draft be pushed back to a later date.
Garza’s Return Puts Hawkeyes Into National Championship Hunt
Among those players is Iowa’s Luka Garza, the runner-up to Obi Toppin of Dayton for last year’s Wooden Award. Toppin is forgoing his college eligibility and projected to be one of the top 5-6 players selected in the NBA Draft. Garza, despite enjoying an outstanding season with the Hawkeyes, is listed outside the top 2 rounds of the draft, and that has most believing he will return to Iowa.
BetOnline currently has Iowa listed as a 28/1 pick to go all the way and win its first National Championship. That puts the Hawkeyes fourth on the list behind Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Garza’s return would make Fran McCaffrey’s squad instant contenders in the Big Ten right alongside that trio, and elevate the Hawkeyes as good bets to at least end their Final Four drought, that streak currently at 40 years.
Garza recently mentioned that it was “important” for him to leave the door open to coming back to school. The Hawkeyes have solid talent to surround Garza, who averaged nearly 24 points a game this past season, beginning with guards Joe Weiskamp and CJ Frederick. McCaffrey and Iowa are also hopeful Jordan Bohannon will be granted an extra year of eligibility after his season came to an end early with a hip injury. While Garza’s return isn’t a certainty, one sure thing is those 28/1 NCAA basketball odds will plunge if he does.
The Butler Did It
Baylor was in good shape to go deep into March Madness this time around, and the Bears are among the favorites to do so again next season. Sports betting sites list Scott Drew’s cagers with a 16/1 return, and that has the Bears seventh on the chart behind the likes of Virginia, Gonzaga, Villanova, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke. The first goal for Drew and Baylor will be to unseat the Jayhawks in the Big 12, a goal that would be easier to attain with the services of Jared Butler and MaCio Teague.
Both are testing the draft waters after topping the Bears in scoring last season, Jared Butler at a 16.0 clip and MaCio Teague not far behind at 13.9. Butler improved his shooting, both overall and from 3-point range, from his freshman campaign when he was a 4-star recruit out of Louisiana, and still has two years of college eligibility remaining. The 6-3 guard averaged more than 20 PPG in Baylor’s two contests last season against Kansas, and his name does appear late in the second round of some NBA mock drafts.
Teague came to Waco two years ago as a transfer from UNC-Asheville, and doesn’t appear on many 2-round mock drafts. Baylor does have some potential backcourt replacements for the pair, including LJ Cryer, a 4-star point guard from the 2020 recruiting class. I like the prospect of both Butler and Teague coming back.
‘Nova Likely To Be Without Bey
Saddiq Bey and his game have been growing by leaps and bounds – literally and figuratively – since his high school days when he came to Villanova as a 3-star recruit from the DC area. Bey was a 5-8 point guard as a freshman on his high school team, and stands a foot taller now as he tests the NBA Draft.
This past year saw him lead the Wildcats with a 16.1 scoring mark, Bey canning a ridiculous 45% from 3-point land. He also pulled down 4.7 rebounds a night and dished it 2.4 times a game, that assist average second on the team behind point guard Collin Gillespie. Where Bey really excels is on the defensive end, part of the reason he garnered third-team honors for NBC Sports’ All-American Team. Bey has been moving up on NBA draft boards as well, and is consistently seen as a mid-to-late pick in Round 1.
Jay Wright isn’t going to have Bey next season, but that isn’t hurting Villanova as far as contending for a title goes. Even without their star from last year, the Wildcats are still going to be a popular college basketball pick once the 2020-21 season tips.