Draft decisions to have huge impact on 2018-19 hoops season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — The deadline for college players to withdraw from the NBA draft has a widespread impact, from the individuals involved to their families to the teams who may select them in June.

The decisions made on or just before Wednesday’s deadline also will have a lasting effect on the 2018-19 college basketball season. Teams losing key players will have to find replacements, possibly ending up in rebuilding mode. Teams who get their stars back will be eyeing NCAA Tournament runs.

A rundown of how some of the top teams fared at the NBA draft deadline:


AUBURN. Not only did coach Bruce Pearl pull together one of the nation’s top recruiting classes despite the program being caught up in an FBI investigation, he will have three of his top underclassmen back. Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Austin Wiley all opted to withdraw from the draft, possibly putting the Tigers in position to contend for an SEC title.

NORTH CAROLINA. Luke Maye, an AP third-team All-American, decided to come back after testing the NBA waters, giving the Tar Heels three returning starters to go with the program’s best recruiting class in years. He averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds last season.

GONZAGA. The Zags could have been in a tough spot if Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell had all decided to leave early. All three are back, putting Gonzaga in position for another deep NCAA Tournament run.

PURDUE. The Boilermakers lost four key seniors, but the return of Carsen Edwards, a Big Ten player of the year candidate, and Nojel Eastern leave them in good shape for 2018-19.

FLORIDA. The Gators faced the prospect of losing their leading scorer from last season when Jalen Hudson declared for the draft. He didn’t hire an agent and announced Tuesday that he’s coming back for his senior season, which should help Florida remain competitive in the SEC.


VILLANOVA. The 2018 national champions will have to defend their title without four key players who left early. The Wildcats knew they’d lose national player of the year Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges after both signed with agents. Final Four most outstanding player Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman joined them, both saying this week they will remain in the draft.

MARYLAND. The Terps knew they’d be without Justin Jackson after he signed with an agent. The return of Kevin Huerter could have softened the blow some, but the sharpshooting forward opted on Wednesday to remain in the draft, leaving Maryland without its top two players. At least the Terps will have Bruno Fernando, who decided to return for his sophomore season.

STANFORD. Reid Travis’ decision was to withdraw from the NBA draft. That should have been good news for the Cardinal, but instead of being a top contender for Pac-12 player of the year in 2018-19 with them, Travis announced he would play elsewhere as a graduate transfer.


CLEMSON. The Tigers got good news when leading scorer Marcquise Reed and starting guard Shelton Mitchell decided to return. The backcourt duo helped the Tigers return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and reach the program’s first Sweet 16 since 1997.

BOSTON COLLEGE. The Eagles took a big hit when Jerome Robinson, the ACC’s second-leading scorer, opted to hire an agent and remain in the draft. His return would’ve given BC nearly its entire team back to pursue the program’s first NCAA bid since 2009. The good news: Ky Bowman, the ACC’s top returning scorer, decided to withdraw from the draft.

UCLA. The Bruins lost one of the nation’s best players when dynamic guard Aaron Holiday declared for the draft and hired an agent in March. UCLA’s big loss was offset, at least to a degree, by the decisions of Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands to return to Westwood. The Bruins are still waiting for freshman forward Cody Riley to announce his decision.

KANSAS. The Jayhawks lost Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman after both declared for the draft and signed with an agent. But Kansas got some good news on Wednesday when burly big man Udoka Azubuike announced he will return for his junior season instead of remaining in the draft.

MICHIGAN STATE. The Spartans will certainly miss Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges after both hired agents to leave school early. Michigan State received good news this week, though, when forward Nick Ward decided to head back to East Lansing.


AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.


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