According to WatchStadium’s Jeff Goodman, an astounding 177 underclassmen decided to test the waters for the 2019 NBA Draft. With the option to withdraw and return to school set for midnight Eastern on May 29, there isn’t a downside for a player making himself available these days.
In the end, 87 players decided to keep their names in the NBA Draft. On the flip side, there were 88 who chose to come back to school. (Two non-D-1 players’ decisions were unknown this morning.)
Let’s start with the defending national champions, who received great news late Wednesday night when Mamadi Diakite elected to return to Virginia. Diakite’s buzzer beater forced overtime in the Cavaliers’ win over Purdue in the Elite Eight.
Tony Bennett’s team lost De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome early, but it still has the second-shortest odds to win the 2020 national title. UVA has 8/1 odds along with Michigan State and Kentucky, while Duke is the 7/1 “chalk” at Sportsbook.
Virginia scored big earlier this week when it landed coveted transfer Sam Hauser from Marquette. However, Hauser will have to sit out one season before playing his final year in Charlottesville in 2020-21. Sam Hauser was a second-team All-Big East selection this past year when he averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He is a 44.0 percent 3-point shooter for his career.
Duke is the favorite despite losing its Big Three freshmen and Marques Bolden early. The Blue Devils bring back Tre Jones and add the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class, including three five-star players, according to Rivals.
Kentucky could overtake Duke as the “chalk” if it can land Va. Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear, who reportedly went back and forth on his decision multiple times before ultimately pulling his name out of the draft late last night. Blackshear, a power forward from Orlando who averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 RPG while helping the Hokies to the Sweet 16 this past season, is expected to decide between Florida and UK although Texas A&M might also have a say thanks to the presence of Buzz Williams.
John Calipari got great news in the last 48 hours when both Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery decided to return to school. Rivals ranks UK’s incoming recruiting class as the country’s second-best and, like Duke, the haul includes a trio of five-star prospects.
Michigan State lost center Nick Ward early, but Tom Izzo brings back most of the nucleus from an Elite Eight team. The Spartans have the nation’s top point guard in Cassius Winston and have a pair of four-star recruits coming in. Also, they landed Marquette’s Joey Hauser, but he must sit out one year.
Four teams share 15/1 odds at the future book: Gonzaga, Michigan, North Carolina and Villanova. Speaking of the Wolverines, a Philadelphia Inquirer report indicated that former St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli has a firm offer from Juwan Howard to join his staff in Ann Arbor. That would be a great get for Howard, as the first-time head coach needs to build an elite staff to surround him.
As for Michigan’s personnel, it lost Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews and Ignas Brazdeikis to the draft. Jon Teske, Zavier Simpson and Isaiah Livers will be the veterans on a young roster.
Gonzaga is off a trip to the Elite Eight and brings in the nation’s No. 3 ranked recruiting class that has an abundance of size. The Bulldogs lost Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura early and Josh Perkins is out of eligibility, but Mark Few got good news with Killian Tillie’s decision to return for his senior campaign.
North Carolina lost Colby White and Nassir Little to early exits, in addition to the departures of seniors Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson. Roy Williams has two five-stars and a pair of four-stars composing a four-man 2019 class that’s ranked No. 12 at Rivals.
Kansas, which has 20/1 odds at Sportsbook, was one of the biggest winners at the deadline. Silvio De Sousa and Devon Dotson announced they’ll be back in Lawrence.
Louisville (25/1) got a big boost with the return of Steven Enoch and Jordan Nwora. Chris Mack has the No. 11 ranked recruiting class coming in to join Nwora, who is listed as the No. 20 overall pick in NBADraft.net’s latest 2020 mock. Enoch is listed at No. 24 on the website.
Auburn (30/1) nearly played for a national title and went to the program’s first Final Four thanks in large part to the stellar play of point guard Jared Harper. Even though he’s unlikely to get drafted, Harper crushed the hearts of Auburn fans by forgoing his senior season. Chuma Okeke stayed in the draft, too, but his ACL injury in the NCAA Tournament might’ve kept him out next year anyway.
Tennessee (35/1) didn’t lose Rick Barnes to UCLA, but it did come out on the wrong side of deadline decisions from Grant Williams and Jordan Bone. Both players are projected as early-to-mid second-round picks.
Like KU and U of L, Xavier (50/1) was a deadline winner with Paul Scruggs, Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones and Naji Marshall electing to come back to school. Put Davidson (1,000/1) in the same category with Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson pulling out. Bob McKillop’s squad will bring back all five starters from a 24-win team.
Florida (60/1) rising sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard provided UF fans with plenty of anxiety, only to ultimately decide to come back to Gainesville. Going through the process clearly helped him, though, as NBADraft.net now has him at No. 28 overall in the first round of its 2020 mock. Nembhard wasn’t listed in either round on the website’s previous mock. Bettors might want to get a small taste of the Gators at 60/1 because if they land Blackshear, those odds will be significantly reduced.
Mike White has a pair of five-star recruits on the way in Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann. Also, power forward Omar Payne is a high four-star recruit. Those freshmen will join Nembhard, Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson.
Ohio State and Maryland both have 60/1 odds to win the 2020 national title. Both programs got good news when Kaleb Wesson and Anthony Cowan, respectively, decided to return to school. Cincinnati (70/1) was another winner thanks to the return of Jarron Cumberland. On the other hand, AAC rival Houston (40/1) got bad news when Armoni Brooks stayed in the draft.
As for LSU (80/1), we covered its story earlier this week.
Indiana (100/1) lost Romeo Langford early, but the Hoosiers had to be pleased with their trio of Al Durham, Devonte Green and Justin Smith pulling out of the draft.
One team off the national radar that took a huge loss was Georgia (100/1). The Bulldogs are hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 in Tom Crean’s second season at the helm. But those hopes were diminished when rising junior center Nicolas Claxton stayed in the draft. Claxton, who averaged 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and 1.1 steals per game as a sophomore, is pegged as the No. 28 overall pick in NBADraft.net’s latest mock.
The website’s latest mock for the 2020 NBA Draft lists UGA’s Anthony Edwards as the No. 1 pick. Rayshaun Hammonds is listed as the No. 35 selection in the same mock. Crean has the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class coming into Athens, with Edwards as the crown jewel. If Claxton would’ve returned to join Hammonds, streaky 3-point gunner Tyree Crump and the recruiting class, UGA would’ve been a factor in the SEC.
The best thing for South Carolina (500/1) is that Frank Martin will be back. His name was mentioned for multiple jobs during the recent carousel. Additional good news for the Gamecocks came when A.J. Lawson decided to return for his sophomore campaign. Lawson is listed at No. 16 overall in the website’s latest 2020 mock.
One of the biggest upsets at the deadline was the surprising decision of Charles Bassey (14.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.4 BPG) to return to Western Kentucky. NBADraft.net had Bassey listed as the No. 24 overall pick in its latest mock. During his long tenure at Mississippi State, Rick Stansbury lost countless players to the draft early. In fact, he had three NBA players signed up to come to Starkville who never even made it to campus in Monta Ellis, Jonathan Bender and Travis Outlaw. Maybe Stansbury was owed a little luck in this department, and Bassey provided just that.
In addition to Blackshear, TCU’s Jaylen Fisher, Alabama’s Tevin Mack, Florida Gulf Coast’s Troy Baxter and Kansas’ Quentin Grimes elected to return to school but will transfer.