NBA Draft Declaration Day: Texas, Tennessee Lose Big
The final deadline for remaining in the NBA draft has come and gone and while there were some unexpected returnees earlier (see North Carolina), some teams were left with some serious questions heading into the 2011-12 season.
Others received some good news regarding key players that will at least help them maintain a solid foundation moving forward.
Not including the likes of Sullinger, Jones III, Zeller, Barnes and Henson, who maintained early that they would return to school, here is a look at 10 others who made their decisions late and the potential impact their decisions could make.
Ashton Gibbs, Pitt Panthers
This is a huge boost for the Panthers who lose Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee and Gilbert Brown.
Not only is Gibbs the lone remaining backcourt offensive threat, but he will provide some much-needed leadership to a Pitt team that will be much younger this season.
The fact that they are younger doesn't mean they are less talented but with the return of Gibbs, they will have someone to steer the ship.
2. Terrence Jones, Kentucky Wildcats
Jones was easily one of the best freshmen getting out of the gate last season.
However, he faded somewhat as the season progressed, partly because other teams adjusted to him favouring his left hand and partly because he was asked to assume a more secondary role in the offense.
Regardless, Jones is a big-time athlete who can rebound as well as score.
Whether or not his scoring numbers increase depends on whether he, Anthony Davis and Mike Gilchrist can share the ball.
If this happens, look for Jones to be a force at both ends of the court.
3. Shelvin Mack, Butler Bulldogs
After appearing in two consecutive national championship games, what is left to accomplish? (Okay, winning the title is too obvious.)
Mack made the decision to stay in the draft and end his career with the Bulldogs. A leader at both ends of the floor for coach Brad Stevens, Mack is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick.
This leaves a huge void, offensively and in terms of leadership for Butler, as Matt Howard (graduation) is also gone.
As well as Brad Stevens has done to this point in his career, he must now rebuild the Bulldogs.
And this will be his toughest challenge yet.
4. Tristan Thompson, Texas Longhorns
Of the three early defections from the Longhorns, this one could hurt the most.
With the departure of Jordan Hamilton, who also stayed in the draft, and Gary Johnson (graduation), Texas will have to completely revamp their front line.
Thompson had much to gain by staying in college for at least one more season. Defensively, he is active, can rebound and blocks shots. His offensive game is not polished. Apparently, he liked what he heard from evaluations. Couple that with his obvious athleticism and he realized that there were teams that were willing to look at him now.
I can't help but think he looked ahead to next year's draft as well. Some big name players who stayed in college will be declaring, as well as some potential one-and-dones from this year's freshman crop.
For Thompson, it may have been the best decision. For the Longhorns, it stings.
5. Cory Joseph, Texas Longhorns
This was a little bit surprising.
Joseph had decent numbers as a freshman, but nothing that jumped out at most observers.
Similar to former Longhorn Avery Bradley, Joseph looked to be headed in the direction of the NBA, but was likely at least a year off.
However, also similarly to Bradley, Joseph was probably looking in the direction of next season's potential draft and thought that his chances at a higher selection this year were at a premium.
Again, probably good for Joseph. Not so much for Texas.
6. Tobias Harris, Tennessee Volunteers
Although it was no surprise, Harris' decision to stay in the draft has dealt a blow to the Volunteers program in the short term.
Harris is a versatile player who has great potential, likely as a three, in the NBA. The turmoil that was Tennessee this year was likely the impetus, or at least some of the reason that Harris won't be returning.
But that's not it for the Volunteers because...
7. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee Volunteers
Hopson is also staying in the draft.
The Vols leading-scorer has also ended his career with Tennessee, leaving new coach Cuonzo Martin without his top two scorers and facing potential sanctions regarding former coach Bruce Pearl's, uh, indiscretions.
Again, it wasn't a surprising decision, just one that Vols' fans hoped wouldn't be made.
8. Carleton Scott, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This one is more than a little puzzling as well.
Scott has great length and range, and at 6'9" will likely be a three, or even a two-guard, if and when he plays in the Association.
The timing, I suppose, is better for Scott this year than it might be next, but it is hard to imagine him being any higher than a mid second-round pick. Even that might be optimistic.
It does hurt the Irish though. Despite the team listing a virtual all-senior cast last season, Scott and Scott Martin both have eligibility remaining, which would have meant no huge rebuilding for Mike Brey.
Now Brey loses another important piece from last year's tough Big East runner-up.
9. Jeremy Green, Stanford Cardinal
This one doesn't seem to be mentioned as prominently as some others, but for west coast fans, particularly in Stanford, California, it means a lot.
The Cardinal's leading scorer stayed in the draft, making a young Cardinal team even younger, and adding at least another year to Johnny Dawkins' rebuilding plan.
Although the potential remains, the Cardinal will be lacking in leadership until one of the young guns steps up to fill that role.
10. Jordan Williams, Maryland Terrapins
Someone tell me that Williams' decision to stay in the draft had nothing to do with Williams' decision to step down as coach. Or vice-versa. The timing just seemed too right.