Villanova, Oregon boosted by players turning down NBA Draft
The NBA's decision to extend the deadline for withdrawing from its draft until Wednesday gave college basketball's top players more time to make up their minds.
Many of those stars have decided to return to school and that should have a major impact on next season's push for the Final Four.
National champion Villanova might have been the biggest beneficiary, as star guard Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, whose buzzer-beating 3 gave the Wildcats the title over North Carolina, have decided to come back to school.
Oregon won't sneak up on anyone next season with Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey returning to Eugene. But Kansas will look to reload after losing Wayne Selden Jr. and Cheick Diallo to the pros.
Here are some of the notable moves that have shaken up the college basketball landscape for 2016-17.
Villanova would have been down to just one returning starter had Hart and Jenkins decided that the win over the Tar Heels would be their last with the Wildcats. But Hart, Jenkins and Jalen Brunson give Villanova a veteran core that'll make it among the early favorites for the national title.
The Wildcats are 97-13 since Hart and Jenkins joined the team back in 2013.
"Josh Hart did a great job in this process," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I'm really proud of the way that he showed himself."
Oregon was hardly on anyone's radar at the start of last season, but Brooks (16.7 points per game) and Dorsey (13.4) helped lead the Ducks all the way to the Elite Eight and both will be back.
Oregon should be the favorite to repeat in the Pac-12, especially after landing NJCAA player of the year Kavell Bigby-Williams, who averaged 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game in junior college last season.
BIG 12 SHAKEUP
Losing Selden Jr. and Diallo, who could go in the first round despite barely playing for the Jayhawks as a freshman, will sting. But Kansas will add one of the nation's top prospects, Josh Jackson, along with four-star center Udoka Azubuike next season.
Iowa State lost promising big man Emmanuel Malou, who left for pro ball before playing a game in Ames, but senior point guard Monte Morris returned after most thought he wouldn't. Morris will be the leader of a team with a lot of promise but plenty of uncertainty after losing Georges Niang to graduation.
BIG BLUE SIGH OF RELIEF
Kentucky, which lost standout guards Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray to the draft, got some good news Wednesday when Isaiah Briscoe announced he was going back to Lexington.
Briscoe averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds last season, and he'll look to improve his shooting (13.5 percent on 3s, 46 percent from the line) before going pro.
"I can tell you all the teams (Briscoe worked out for) were impressed with him physically, defensively, his rebounding ability, his strength, his ball-handling ability and his basketball IQ," coach John Calipari said. "He shot the ball well at the NBA workouts but will look to continue to improve that to take the next step in his career."
Forward Marcus Lee announced Wednesday that he will transfer after withdrawing from the NBA draft, but Calipari shouldn't be overly concerned after bringing in three of the nation's best high school post players for next season.
First-team All-Big Ten selection Nigel Hayes will return to Wisconsin, vastly improving the Badgers chances in the Big Ten. Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. will join Hayes after an impressive sophomore season cut short by a knee injury. ...Washington State's Josh Hawkinson, who led the Pac-12 in rebounding a year ago, was among three Cougars who've decided to return in '16-17. ...Seton Hall lost a big piece when first-team All-Big East guard Isaiah Whitehead, who averaged 20 points in league games, said Wednesday that he'll stay in the draft.
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