Underclass Deadline Winners In College Hoops

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 2, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft has come and gone. Here’s the programs coming out winners in this increasingly unpredictable and agonizing process.

More than 130 non-senior college basketball prospects declared for the NBA Draft as early entrants in 2018. The deadline to apply passed on April 22. Does it feel like this rule is getting out of hand yet? Only 60 players will be selected in the upcoming draft, which includes seniors and a growing foreign player pool. Most of the early entrants are there to let scouts evaluate their skills and work out with pro teams. Some will head to the NBA, others professional leagues overseas, but many will return to their college programs over the summer after giving their coaches and fanbase a distressing and restless wait. Only those not signing with an agent are eligible to return. The nearly 80 or so in this category can withdraw up to 10 days following the Combine.

The 2016 early entry rule is fostering an unprecedented level of uncertainty among the nation’s top programs. Will certain players be on the roster next season or not? It affects recruiting, practice, preparation, classroom work, you name it. It also makes forecasting power rankings nearly impossible. Although the one-and-done phenomenon has also helped muddy these waters, it is clear among recent, successful NCAA Tournament teams (Villanova, Michigan, etc.) that experience and a seasoned roster matters. Some programs know which players are gone for good, while most wait in limbo. The clear winners are those learning of productive players expected to put pen to paper, but backed out for whatever reasons. Let’s take a look at a few of these, and weigh the victors up to this point in this agonizing process:


Head coach Tony Bennett is primed to make another ACC title run with freshman guard De’Andre Hunter returning to school. The 6-foot-7 guard, a projected first-round pick, fractured his left wrist in the ACC tournament, which prompted his decision to forego draft entry. Hunter is a perfect fit in Bennett’s squad. Averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season, his face-up defense is elite and blends perfectly into UVA’s pack-line system. When Hunter put up double digits in points last season, the Cavs went 14-1 SU and 11-3 ATS.

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DeAndre, the Hunter pic.twitter.com/O4e7TtbLcb

— The Black Sheep UVA (@blacksheep_uva) February 3, 2018


Gonzaga is primed to return to the Sweet 16 for a fifth consecutive season with forwards Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie returning for their junior seasons. Both could have dipped their toes in the NBA Draft waters, but varying feedback and uncertainty kept them committed to playing for head coach Mark Few. “That was a life decision,” Hachimura said of his return. “I trust Gonzaga, the coaches, the program, and I feel like it’s going to be great for me to improve my skills, my mentality, everything.” Both are projected first-round picks in 2019. Gonzaga is fifth choice at +1100 odds to win the national championship.


Second-team All-Big Ten forward Juwan Morgan entered the draft but did not hire an agent. The rising senior, projected as a late second-round selection at best, is one of 19 early entries from the conference. Morgan proved one of the nation’s most improved players last season, leading the Hoosiers in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). “I want to gather as much information as possible and see what opportunities may be out there,” said Morgan in a statement. “It’s important to get an honest evaluation and that is what I am looking for.” Our honest assessment is Morgan will retreat back to Bloomington to play alongside newly committed Romeo Langford. The five-star recruit picked Indiana just days ago, and immediately makes Archie Miller’s program a national title contender.

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