Players galore declare for NBA Draft; others enter portal

Eric Musselman has reinforcements on the way with the nation's second-ranked recruiting class.

With college basketball’s last game of the 2021-22 season set for tonight, there’s been a ton of player news in recent days. Let’s get you caught up on some of the most important developments.

–Auburn center Walker Kessler is entering the NBA Draft and will not return to school. In his lone year with the Tigers after transferring from North Carolina, Kessler averaged 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.6 blocked shots and 1.1 steals per game. Bruce Pearl has already scored his replacement in five-star big man Yohan Traore, a 6-foot-10 center who is ranked by 247Sportps as the No. 15 overall player in the 2022 class. According to the latest mock at NBADraft.net, Kessler will be the No. 28 overall selection late in the first round.

–Arkansas is losing the leading scorer from its second straight Elite Eight team that lost to Duke. JD Notae is signing with an agent and leaving the Razorbacks for the NBA Draft. He averaged 18.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 SPG. Eric Musselman has reinforcements on the way, though, with three five-star commitments. According to 247Sports, Arkansas has the nation’s second-best recruiting class behind Duke. Nick Smith (No. 6 overall), Jordan Walsh (No. 18) and Anthony Black (No. 22) are on their way to Fayetteville, along with three other four-star players.

–Alabama has the nation’s third-ranked class behind the Blue Devils and Razorbacks. Nate Oats has a pair of five-star players — forward Brandon Miller (No. 11) and Jaden Bradley (No. 17) — and two four-star additions set to join the Crimson Tide. However, Jaden Shackleford is bound for the NBA Draft and signing with an agent. Shackleford averaged 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 APG this past year. Oats is still awaiting the decision of JD Davison, who just completed his freshman campaign by averaging 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 SPG. Davison is the No. 35 overall pick early in the second round at NBADraft.net, which has Shackleford going undrafted. They have Alabama’s Keon Ellis (12.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG & 1.9 SPG) going at No. 55 overall. Ellis hasn’t announced a decision yet.

–West Virginia has landed South Carolina transfer Erik Stevenson from out of the portal. Stevenson, who averaged 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 SPG in his lone year with the Gamecocks, will be playing for his fourth school. Stevenson’s career started with two seasons at Wichita St. before spending one year at Washington.

–One of the best 3-pointer shooters available in the portal is Sean McNeil, who averaged 12.2 PPG for West Virginia this past year. McNeil has deep range and can spread the floor with his willingness to launch from downtown.

–Syracuse’s Cole Swider is signing with an agent and entering the NBA Draft. Swider averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 SPG for the Orange, draining 41.1 percent of his 3-pointers and 86.6 percent of his free-throw attempts.

–Boise St.’s Emmanuel Akot is simultaneously entering the NBA Draft and the transfer portal. He doesn’t plan to sign with an agent. Akot averaged 10.6 PPG for the Broncos this past year. Marcus Shaver has also declared for the NBA Draft, but he’s leaving open the option of returning to BSU.

–Florida’s Tyree Appleby (10.9 PPG) has entered the transfer portal. Also, two former UF players in Noah Locke and Omar Payne are also back in the portal. Both players are looking for their third school in three years. Locke and Payne spent this past season at Louisville and Illinois, respectively. Todd Golden, the Gators’ new head coach replacing Mike White, is trying to sway Colin Castleton into returning for another year. Castleton is listed as the No. 84 overall player at NBADraftroom. Senior forward Anthony Duruji is signing with an agent and entering the NBA Draft, although he’s not expected to be selected.

–Belmont transfer Will Richard has set visits to four schools, including Florida, Ga. Tech, Wake Forest and South Carolina. As a true freshman this past season, Richard averaged 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 SPG for the Bruins. He had 22 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and one steal in an opening-round loss at Vanderbilt in the NIT.

–UGA’s White has scored a transfer in Justin Hill, who averaged 14.2 PPG for Longwood last year.

–Rutgers star Ron Harper Jr. has also declared for the NBA Draft. He’s listed as the No. 85 overall player at NBADraftroom.

–UCLA is awaiting decisions from its two stars, Jaime Jaquez and Johnny Juzang. Jaquez is considered a mid-to-late second-round pick in most mocks, while Juzang is No. 86 overall at NBADraftroom.

–St. John’s is losing leading scorer Julian Champagnie, who will sign with an agent even though he might not get drafted.

–Memphis guard Landers Nolley (9.8 PPG) has entered the transfer portal.

–Other elite players who have entered the NBA Draft recently include Big Ten stars like Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis and Iowa’s Keegan Murray.

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