Non-Freshmen Most Likely to Leave School Early After the 2015-16 CBB Season

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJuly 10, 2015

Non-Freshmen Most Likely to Leave School Early After the 2015-16 CBB Season

0 of 21

    Nestled in between the one-and-done freshmen and the graduating seniors is a collection of sophomores and juniors who will likely call it a college basketball career by declaring for the 2016 NBA draft.

    In each of the past five years, at least 30 sophomores and juniors have declared for the draft, and an average of 19.4 per year have been selected during that time. They may not get quite as much fanfare as their freshmen counterparts, but sophomores and juniors make up nearly one-third of the names called on draft night each year.

    Who will be those players next June? Let's just say there isn't a shortage of choices. When compiling the initial list of potential candidates, I jotted down 74 players that could realistically throw their hat in the ring after the 2015-16 season.

    However, there are quite a few that feel like foregone conclusions to go pro, provided they don't have some sort of injury-plagued season that necessitates another year to prove their mettle for the NBA.

    The following players are ranked in ascending order of how shocking it would be to see them still playing college basketball in 2016-17.

Honorable Mentions

1 of 21

    Zak Irvin, Michigan

    Derrick Walton Jr. might also be a candidate for an early leap to the pros, but if Irvin can get back to shooting as accurately as he did as a freshman while shooting as often as he did as a sophomore, he just might be the first shooting guard off the board at next year's draft.

     

    Wayne Selden Jr., Kansas

    I want to believe this is the year Selden averages 15 points per game and hits better than 40 percent of his three-point attempts, but this also marks the third year that I've wanted to believe that. Every now and again 5-star guys stay for all four years, and maybe Selden is one of those players.

     

    Daniel Hamilton, Connecticut

    For some reason, Connecticut has managed to keep most of its players for three or more years. Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb were the exceptions to the rule. Hamilton had a great freshman season and blossomed into one of the most reliable contributors for the Huskies, but he might stay for a third year if he isn't a consensus lottery pick next June.

     

    Devin Robinson, Florida

    It's tough to get a read on how things will play out for Florida this season, but Robinson may have trouble getting enough minutes to put up "jumping to the NBA" numbers with Dorian Finney-Smith still in the picture.

     

    Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

    Had he shot better than 28.1 percent from three-point range last season, Rathan-Mayes would probably already be gone. If he can improve that stroke while leading the Seminoles to the NCAA tournament, it's highly unlikely he'll be back for another season.

     

    Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall

    As noted earlier this week, the Pirates will be extremely reliant on Whitehead this season. If he becomes more efficient and averages close to 20 per game as a result, he'll be a lottery pick.

     

    Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville

    He split time at center with Mangok Mathiang last season, but with Montrezl Harrell out of the picture, it could be Onuaku's time to shine. Plus, the NBA needs more granny style free-throw shooters.

     

    Anthony Livingston, Arkansas State
    Rashawn Thomas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

    Almost without fail, you can count on a couple of early entrants who you have never heard of before. In 2013, we had Trevis Simpson from UNC-Greensboro, Tony Mitchell from North Texas and Adrien Coleman from Bethune-Cookman each throw their hat in the ring. This year, we had Jerome Hill from Gardner Webb and Charles Jackson from Tennessee Tech.

    In 2016, look for Anthony Livingston and Rashawn Thomas to be the who's who of the minor conference ranks. Thomas averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Islanders, while Livingston put up 15.9 points and 10.0 rebounds on average for the Red Wolves.

20. Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

2 of 21

    2014-15 Stats (James Blackmon Jr.): 15.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG

    2014-15 Stats (Troy Williams): 13.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG

     

    There aren't too many "package deals" on the list, but this is the first of a handful of them. The line of thinking on these is that if one of the players is dead set on going pro, there's a pretty good chance the other(s) will follow.

    In Indiana's case, Troy Williams is probably the one who will decide for both himself and James Blackmon Jr. Williams is currently rated by DraftExpress as the 21st-best player in the 2016 draft class. Despite being forced to play a lot of minutes at power forward or even center last season, the 6'7" forward was an efficient scorer and an excellent rebounder, and he should continue to blossom into a real stud this season.

    If Williams does decide to declare for the draft, Blackmon shouldn't be far behind.

    Coming into his freshman season, Blackmon was heralded as one of the purest shooters in the country. He did not disappoint, hitting 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts despite seeming to run out of gas over the final third of the season. One more year like that and he might be the highest-rated shooting guard in a class that is otherwise fairly devoid of them.

    With Yogi Ferrell graduating, Williams presumably leaving early and several years' worth of proof that he can stroke it from deep, it's hard to see why Blackmon would stick around for a third year with the Hoosiers.

19. Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird, California

3 of 21

    2014-15 Stats (Jabari Bird): 10.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 APG

    2014-15 Stats (Jordan Mathews): 13.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 APG

     

    The Golden Bears should be one of the best teams in the country this season, but they had better win it all before devolving into a serious rebuilding situation.

    Tyrone Wallace will be graduating. Unless Jaylen Brown has a Cliff Alexander type of freshman year, there's a near-100 percent chance that he is a one-and-done player. Ivan Rabb isn't quite the foregone conclusion to succeed and proceed, but you're probably way too optimistic if you think there's a better than 25 percent chance that he plays multiple collegiate seasons.

    If all three of those players are gone and California has the type of successful year that we're anticipating, it's reasonable to assume that Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews will leave Cuonzo Martin searching for an entirely new starting five in 2016-17.

    Both guards averaged double figures last season. Birda former 5-star recruitshot 36.9 percent from three-point range despite missing 10 games early in the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Mathews hit 44.3 percent of his attempted triples.

    It's not like we're suggesting they'll leave just because that's what everyone else is doing. They're both very talented players. And there's a pretty good chance that their draft stock in April 2016 will be much higher than could be realistically expected for the following year.

18. DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph's

4 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG

     

    Saint Joseph's was all but doomed to a rebuilding 2014-15 season.

    In the previous year, all five starters averaged at least 32 minutes per game. Three of those five starters graduated, essentially leaving the team in DeAndre Bembry's capable hands. Try as he might while logging 38.6 minutes per game, he wasn't able to do it alone.

    However, his yeoman work has garnered attention from draft prognosticators around the country. Both NBAdraft.net and DraftExpress have Bembry listed as an early second-rounder, even though no national analyst in his or her right mind intentionally watched a Hawks game last season after their 94-42 loss to Gonzaga in mid-Novembera game in which Bembry shot 2-of-13 and scored just five points.

    Aside from that nightmare of a game, though, he was pretty incredible. Bembry scored at least 15 points in 20 of his next 24 games and put up at least 20 points in a dozen of those contests. Not only did he lead the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals, but he finished at least 32 percent ahead of the runner-up in each category.

    The Hawks will likely still struggle to win games, but there's little chance Bembry would come back for a senior season if he tallies at least 17 points per game for a second straight year.

17. Isaiah Taylor, Texas

5 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG

     

    Had he not missed a month-and-a-half of last season due to a wrist fracture, Isaiah Taylor probably would have already turned pro.

    As the 2014 offseason progressed, the college basketball nation fell further in love with Taylor. April bled into July and November, and somewhere along the way "Texas could win it all if Taylor can excel at point guard" evolved into "Texas will be great with Taylor leading the way at point guard."

    However, he never really hit his stride after the injury. Great games would be immediately preceded or followed by clunkers as he oscillated between greatness and mediocrityas did Texas' entire team.

    Perhaps with Shaka Smart now at the helm, Taylor will develop into the full-time star we all know he's capable of becoming.

    He isn't much of a shooter, but NBA teams would be foolish to pass on his driving and dishing ability if he decides to put his name into the 2016 draft pool.

16. Amida Brimah, Connecticut

6 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 9.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 BPG

     

    Amida Brimah has been one of the best shot-blockers in the nation over the past two seasons, but he also developed into a very reliable offensive weapon last year.

    As a freshman, his job was essentially to hang out in the lane, block shots on defense, grab some rebounds on offense and try not to commit too many foulsthe latter of which was a real struggle for him. Despite shooting 64 percent from the field, he took just 11.5 percent of Connecticut's shots while he was on the floor.

    As a sophomore, though, that usage rate increased to 15.7 percent as the shooting percentage jumped up to 67.4. He also committed substantially fewer fouls, enabling him to get more playing time and really become a force on both ends of the court.

    It would be great to see him become a better rebounder this season, but he doesn't have much of anything else left to prove. The big man is ready for his NBA contract.

15. Marcus Lee, Kentucky

7 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 2.7 RPG, 2.6 PPG, 0.7 BPG

     

    Marcus Lee got the short end of the 2014-15 platoon stick, but that'll happen when you're sharing a frontcourt with three lottery picks and a second-rounder.

    This year, there should be plenty of room for playing time. Even if Lee doesn't start, he'll be the first guy off the bench behind Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress and should have little difficulty averaging at least 20 minutes per game.

    That ought to finally give the 2013 McDonald's All-American the opportunity to springboard into the NBA.

    Thus far in his college career, Lee has been very good in small doses. He didn't get very many chances to shoot the ball last season, but he has averaged 11.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per 40 minutes between his first two seasons.

    The big key for him this season will be foulsboth the ability to not commit so many and to actually make the opposition pay for fouling him. Lee committed 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes last season and shot an absolutely terrible 32.0 percent from the free-throw line. Of course, when you're only attempting five free throws per month, it's kind of hard to get into a groove.

    Hopefully with more minutes he'll improve in both categories and remain an efficient two-point threat (63.5 percent in his career). If that happens, he'll be a hot commodity next June.

14. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas

8 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 2.8 PPG, 1.2 RPG

     

    Despite shooting just 28.8 percent from three-point range as a 17-year-old freshman, most of the draft experts are currently evaluating Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk as a fringe lottery pick in 2016.

    Of course, that has very little to do with what he showed in games this past season and nearly everything to do with how he played in Ukraine before signing with Kansas, as well as what he did in practices and warm-ups throughout the year. The 6'8" wing has excellent court vision, lethal three-point range and more hops than a double IPA.

    Will that talent translate to actual games this season?

    Mykhailiuk played a ton for the first month of last year, but as he struggled and Kelly Oubre quickly became a guy that needed to be played at least 25 minutes per game, "Svi" spent most of the season's remainder on the bench, attempting just 18 shots over the course of the entire 18-game Big 12 schedule.

    This year, though, it's his job to lose. And if he can do a better job over the first month of the 2015-16 season, he could play his way into the 2016 lottery.

13. Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine

9 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 10.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG

     

    Every athlete has a shelf life, but none is shorter than that of a 7'6", 300-pound center.

    The wear and tear on the knees, ankles and feet of players that big is quite intense. Every now and then a Rik Smits, Shawn Bradley or Manute Bol comes along and has a solid 10-12 year NBA career. But for the most part, they are shot-blocking Humpty Dumptys, eternally one bad landing away from never being the same again.

    And Mamadou Ndiaye has already had his share of lower-body injuries. He missed 19 games with a foot injury in the middle of this past season, and didn't block shots anywhere near as frequently as he did during his much healthier freshman season.

    He didn't put up great numbers last year, but he is capable of great things. In his first game back in the starting lineup in early March, he tallied 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in just 24 minutes.

    If he can avoid further injury this coming season, he would be wise to go get an NBA contract while he can.

12. Monte Morris, Iowa State

10 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 SPG

     

    What more do you NBA folks want from Monte Morris?

    He has led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of the past two seasons and boasts a career ratio of 4.7. He is also a career 40.0 percent three-point shooter and has led Iowa State—annually one of the most offensively efficient teamsin O-rating in each of his two collegiate years.

    Yet, no one seems interested in talking about him as the best point guard in the country or a legitimate NBA prospect.

    Well, we are very interested in that conversation, and we think there's very little chance that he returns for a fourth season with Georges Niang, Jameel McKay, Naz Long and Abdel Nader all graduating after this year. Morris' likelihood of coming back for a senior year diminishes exponentially if the Cyclones have the type of success that they should before advancing to the Final Four.

    A deep run in March plus most teammates leaving is typically a pretty strong indicator that a player will declare for the draft.

11. James Webb III, Boise State

11 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 11.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG

     

    Derrick Marks was incredible last season for Boise State, but the Broncos are in very capable hands with James Webb III possibly leading the Mountain West Conference in scoring this year.

    It took about a month for him to get going, but Webb was unstoppable by the time conference play rolled around. In 18 conference games, he averaged 12.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 44.9 percent from three-point range and 65.4 percent inside the arc.

    And that was while being used on only 18.0 percent of Boise State's possessions. Just imagine how much more Webb might be able to do without Marks around for 15.8 field-goal attempts per conference game.

    DraftExpress has Webb projected as an early second-round pick in 2016, but try not to be shocked when he catapults into the middle of the first round while averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.

10. Grayson Allen, Duke

12 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 4.4 PPG, 1.0 RPG

     

    After his outstanding performance in the national championship game, draft prognosticators briefly entertained the notion that Grayson Allen might declare. Even though he scarcely played as a freshman, the skills were clearly there for him to potentially go straight from eighth man to the NBA.

    Ultimately, he chose to return, and he very well may be the best player on the defending champs, now that he figures to be a starter.

    If you'll recall, Allen was heralded in high school for his three-point shooting before winning the 2014 McDonald's All-American Slam Dunk Contest. He doesn't pass or rebound a ton, but his pure scoring ability could be enough to get him onto the All-ACC first team at the end of the year.

    Even if he isn't quite the offensive assassin that we think he could be, Allen will likely jump to the pros as long as he doesn't have an atrocious year. With Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard and Matt Jones all potentially returning for another season, there would be no reason for him to return to a possible logjam situation if he's still projected as a first-round pick in April.

    A little extra consideration for Allen is that Duke should legitimately contend for a second straight title. With one title already under his belt, another Sweet 16 or better type of year for the Blue Devils should be enough to keep Allen from feeling the need to accomplish anything else at the collegiate level.

9. Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

13 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 14.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG

     

    For casual fans, Damian Jones is probably the most anonymous name on this list, but not for the draft experts who already have him projected as a fringe lottery pick next June.

    The 6'10" sophomore led the 21-win Commodores in points, rebounds, blocks and free-throw attempts.

    He only had two double-doubles over the course of the season, but he was Vanderbilt's version of C.J. Fair (Syracuse) or Perry Ellis (Kansas) in his ability to consistently put up a dozen points while grabbing half a dozen rebounds. Every now and then he would explode for 20 points or 10 rebounds, but you had a pretty good idea of what he was going to give you every night, and you certainly weren't going to complain about it.

    With Vanderbilt near the top of the list of expected breakout teams this season, perhaps more people will begin to appreciate how good Jones has been over the past two years. He could be headed for the type of treatment that Northern Iowa's Seth Tuttle got last season, finally getting praised as one of the 50 best players in the country after several years of already being one of them.

    The big difference between Jones and Tuttle is that the former is headed for a lucrative career in the NBA, and very likely starting it after his junior year.

8. Malik Pope, San Diego State

14 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 5.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG

     

    Much like Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Malik Pope is one of those guys that NBA scouts are absolutely in love with, even though he didn't show us much as a freshman.

    For Svi, the issue appeared to be that he just had some trouble immediately adjusting to the college game at 17 years old. But Pope really just needed some time to get healthy and shake off the rust from not having played in nearly two years due to a twice-broken left leg.

    Once mid-January rolled around and he started getting more consistent playing time, it became abundantly clear that this was a guy with a ton of talent, ready to explode.

    He never quite got it up to full throttle, though, scoring in double figures just four times. For Steve Fisher and San Diego State, it was the perfect amount of outputenough for Pope to prove to himself that he could play well without getting injured, but not enough for him to jump to the NBA for a guaranteed spot in the first round.

    Best of luck to the Aztecs in their quest to keep Pope around for a third year, because he is going to be one of the highest scorers in the Mountain West this season.

7. Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

15 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 9.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG

     

    If Domantas Sabonis wants to prove that he can be the singular interior force for a winning team, there's an outside chance that he'll come back for a junior season with Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski out of the picture.

    However, it's highly unlikely that he'll need to prove anything to anyone in order to be drafted in the 2016 lottery. He has already shown that he is a very efficient scorer and an absolutely relentless rebounder.

    The two big things for him to work on this year are shot-blocking and the ability to play 10 minutes without getting into foul trouble, as his fearlessness in tracking down loose balls frequently resulted in silly fouls.

    Aside from that, though, Arvydas' son is clearly ready for the next step in his professional career. And while the departure of Wiltjer and Karnowski would open up even more playing time for him, it's more likely that he decides to get out of Spokane before ever getting the chance to play a game with Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss.

6. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin

16 of 21

    2014-15 Stats (Nigel Hayes): 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG

    2014-15 Stats (Bronson Koenig): 8.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 RPG

     

    Some of these nominees require a moderate amount of explaining, but not these two.

    Bo Ryan has already announced that this will be his final season as the head coach at Wisconsin. Though he hasn't explicitly stated why he decided to give it one more year instead of just calling it quits effective immediately, it's hardly a stretch to assume that he came back to see Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig through to the NBA.

    Hayes is the no-brainer decision. Unless he suffers an injury this season, there's a near-zero chance we'll see him playing college ball in 2016-17. He's far too talented to go another year without getting paid millions of dollars.

    Koenig is more of a potential domino. He's a very talented college basketball player, but I'm not sure how well his game would translate to the NBA. However, with his head coach retiring and his best teammate likely leaving town, he might declare for the draft to avoid undergoing so much change before his senior year.

    Maybe Hayes goes pro and Koenig transfers somewhere that gives him a better chance of getting back to the Final Four, but I would be surprised if we see either of these guys in a Badgers uniform two years from now.

5. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

17 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.6 SPG

     

    Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton got all of Notre Dame's praise last season, making Demetrius Jackson one of the most underappreciated talents in the country.

    Jackson shot 55.7 percent inside the arc, 42.9 percent beyond it, played excellent defense without fouling and tallied a ton of assists for a secondary ball-handler.

    Basically, he was the ideal sidekick. He was every bit as valuable for Notre Dame as Ryan Boatright was when Connecticut won the title two years ago.

    And as was the case for Boatright last offseason, the big question for Jackson is whether he was able to thrive because of the team's primary ball-handler or whether he was actually being held back by not being "the guy" for his squad.

    We choose the more optimistic of the two options and believe that Jackson could be headed for ACC Player of the Year honors. He probably won't be as efficient, but he is going to do a metric ton for the Fighting Irish this season. He will average upward of 20 points per game before being drafted in the top 10.

4. Melo Trimble, Maryland

18 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 16.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG

     

    Were it not for Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, Melo Trimble would have been hands down the best freshman guard in the nation last season. It was nothing short of incredible that he was able to lead Maryland through injuries to key players to win more than 25 games for the first time since its 2002 national championship season.

    Because he decided to come back for a second year, the Terrapins are one of the favorites to win another title in 2016.

    Should they come anywhere close to reaching that goal, it's probably safe to assume that Trimble will be riding off into the NBA sunset. He is a considerably above-average three-point shooter who thrives on driving to the lane, finishing through contact and doing a ton of damage from the free-throw line. In today's NBA, he's a can't-miss stud.

    While we wait for him to become a pro, here's a fun comparison for you:

    Trimble's freshman season: 16.2 PPG, 41.2 3P%, 46.8 2P%, 86.3 FT%, 3.0 APG

    Steve Nash's college career: 14.9 PPG, 40.1 3P%, 46.2 2P%, 86.7 FT%, 4.5 APG

    If he can record a few more assists as a sophomore, it might be time to start mentioning Trimble and a two-time NBA MVP in the same sentence.

3. Jakob Poeltl, Utah

19 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 9.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG

     

    Like several others on the list, Jakob Poeltl very likely would have been a first-round pick a few weeks ago if he had declared for the draft.

    Poeltl didn't put up huge numbers over the course of the entire season, but he started out with such a bang that we couldn't help but butcher the pronunciation of his name in the yearlong discussions about the nation's top freshmen.

    It's worth noting that he played much of the regular season with an injured ankle that didn't exactly help his raw numbers. Assuming he can stay healthy this year, though, he should be one of the most dominant big men in the country.

    In the NCAA tournament, Poeltl held his own against Georgetown's Joshua Smith and Duke's Jahlil Okafor after putting up 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks against Stephen F. Austin. If that's a sign of things to come, Utah should remain a legitimate contender and Poeltl should be a top-10 pick next summer.

2. Kris Dunn, Providence

20 of 21

    2014-15 Stats: 15.6 PPG, 7.5 APG, 5.5 RPG, 2.7 SPG

     

    When a player surprisingly comes back for another season, I try not to question his decision and rather simply appreciate getting to watch him do his thing for one more year.

    However, given Kris Dunn's injury history, where he could have been drafted this past June and how little else the Friars have going for them this season, it's very difficult to not scratch my head on this one.

    Dunn was the second-highest rated point guard in the class of 2012one spot behind Marcus Smart, but just ahead of Yogi Ferrell, Semaj Christon and Marcus Paige. He was supposed to be a star from day one, but he missed the first nine games of his freshman season while recovering from a torn labrum and proceeded to miss nearly all of the 2013-14 season with an injury to the same shoulder.

    Last year was the first time he was truly healthy, and he was pretty incredible, leading the nation in assist rate and ranking fifth in steal rate.

    Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament, B/R's Jonathan Wasserman had Dunn projected as the No. 14 overall pick. In his first 2016 mock draft, Wasserman has Dunn going No. 10.

    Not much reward for a lot of risk, but go ahead and count on him actually being in the draft next year.

1. All of the North Carolina Tar Heels

21 of 21

    2014-15 Stats (Justin Jackson): 10.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.3 APG

    2014-15 Stats (Kennedy Meeks): 11.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG

    2014-15 Stats (Theo Pinson): 2.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG

    2014-15 Stats (Isaiah Hicks): 6.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG

     

    Is there a scenario in which most of North Carolina's sophomores and juniors don't declare for the 2016 draft?

    If the Tar Heels remain eligible for postseason play this year, they'll have a very real chance of winning the national championshipwhich almost always results in a mass exodus of players who either think their draft stock can't get any higher, or who don't see any point in continuing to play college ball when they have already achieved the ultimate dream.

    Even if they don't reach the Final Four, though, Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson are out of eligibility after this season. Unless Roy Williams is able to bring in one of the best 2016 recruiting classes in the countryan unlikely proposition, given the yet-to-be-determined ramifications of the Wainstein ReportNorth Carolina won't project to be anywhere near as good in 2016-17 without arguably its two best players.

    It's one thing to turn down a shot at the NBA for one more chance at an NCAA championship, but who wants to postpone a paid contract to risk injury for a team that's going to be worse next year?

    Truly, aside from an injury-plagued season that decimates their draft stock, the only way I can see talented prospects like Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Theo Pinson coming back for another season in Chapel Hill is if the Tar Heels get a one-year ban from the postseason in 2016 and are eligible to return to the tournament in 2017much like the situation for Shabazz Napier at Connecticut a few years ago.

    At this point, though, the more likely scenario is that they will be eligible in 2016 and possibly ineligible in 2017, leading to a ton of Tar Heels in next June's draft pool.

     

    Advanced stats courtesy of KenPom.com.

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.