The early-entry withdrawal deadline for the NBA draft is when the next season of college basketball truly begins to take shape. The top-25 rankings released right after the national championship game are a distant memory, and rosters and rotations are getting clarified.
Before we do a total reboot of our Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25, though, we have to take a quick snapshot of what transpired on NBA draft deadline day.
It's technically a mixed bag. Devon Dotson announced he was returning to school, while Quentin Grimes withdrew his name from the draft ... just to enter the transfer portal a short time later. But when RJ Hampton chose to go to New Zealand instead of Kansas on Tuesday, it raised the importance of deadline day for Bill Self and the Jayhawks. And while no one expected Grimes to return and then transfer, it sort of went according to plan. Dotson will be one of the best point guards in the country and the expectation all along was that Grimes would be one-and-done. Self now has Dotson in the backcourt to go with Silvio De Sousa and Udoka Azubuike up front -- that's still a decent day.
The Cardinals cemented their status as a preseason top-10 team on Wednesday, as Jordan Nwora announced he was returning for his junior season. Nwora didn't participate at the combine due to injury, but he took his decision down to the deadline anyway. With Nwora and his 17 points per game back in the fold, Chris Mack has all the pieces to compete at the top of the ACC. Junior forward Steven Enoch also withdrew his name from the draft, and Louisville returns several other rotation players -- plus brings in a top-10 recruiting class.
While Mark Few lost Brandon Clarke, Rui Hachimura and Zach Norvell earlier this spring, the Bulldogs got huge news on deadline day when Killian Tillie and Filip Petrusev decided to return to Spokane. Tillie was the big one, as he was one of the best two-way players in the WCC before spending most of last season injured. Petrusev is a high-ceiling big man who had his moments last season. If Gonzaga can figure out its point guard situation, it could be another top-10 season for Few.
The Wildcats had a couple players leave earlier this spring, but received good news when Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery decided to return to Lexington. Kentucky was a little thin on the interior, with only Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina in the post position. Richards and Montgomery aren't game-changers right now, but they provide much-needed depth for John Calipari. Another plus for Calipari is that Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. decided to withdraw his name from the draft. Kentucky is an option for Blackshear.
Had Mamadi Diakite left for the NBA draft, Tony Bennett would have lost all five players that started more than 20 games for the Cavaliers last season. But Diakite announced late Wednesday night -- the last undecided player in the early-entry pool -- that he was heading back to Charlottesville for his senior season. Diakite and Kihei Clark will take on expanded roles after coming on strong down the stretch for the national champions.
We ranked the Terrapins in the preseason top-10 with the assumption Anthony Cowan Jr. was returning to College Park. He made that official on Wednesday, and should combine with Jalen Smith to form one of the elite inside-outside combos in the country. Bruno Fernando did leave for the draft several weeks ago, but Mark Turgeon will take two out of three.
The Buckeyes will push for preseason top-10 nods with Kaleb Wesson back in the fold. There was essentially no chance he actually left for the NBA, but it's nice for Chris Holtmann to have his post anchor back in Columbus. Ohio State returns most of its rotation from last season, and also brings in three ESPN 100 prospects.
Myles Powell was always unlikely to keep his name in the NBA draft, but his return likely locks the Pirates into a top-15 preseason ranking. Powell is one of the elite scorers in college basketball and carried Seton Hall at times last season. Kevin Willard brings back everyone except Michael Nzei from last season's NCAA tournament team.
After a surprising 28-7 season in 2018-19, Craig Smith's Aggies might find themselves in most preseason top-25s after the return of freshman big man Neemias Queta. Queta could be poised for a breakout sophomore season, but there was a strong chance early in the process that he would keep his name in the draft. With Queta and Sam Merrill as the inside-outside combo, Utah State will be Mountain West favorites.
With Mike White losing four seniors, he needed Andrew Nembhard to return -- not just because he was last season's starting point guard, but for some leadership. And Nembhard announced Wednesday he was headed back to Gainesville. Florida should be a top-25 team with its young returnees and a high-level recruiting class led by five-star wing Scottie Lewis and McDonald's All-American point guard Tre Mann. The Gators will also be in the mix for Kerry Blackshear Jr.
It's been a tumultuous few months for the Tigers, with Will Wade's suspension and reinstatement -- along with the number of personnel decisions the team had. Nazreon Reid and Tremont Waters were always going to stay in the draft, but the rest of the team decided to return to Baton Rouge. Javonte Smart made his decision last week, and Emmitt Williams, Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor withdrew this week. Along with five-star forward Trendon Watford, Wade now has the core to compete in the SEC again.
The Musketeers are expected to rise in the Big East standings this season, with Travis Steele returning most of his key pieces from 2018-19. They had four players enter the NBA draft, and all four are returning. Naji Marshall did it weeks ago, but Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs joined him this week.
The Hoosiers knew Romeo Langford was staying in the draft, but they also had Al Durham, Devonte Green and Justin Smith entering their names. All three decided to return to Bloomington. After two NCAA tournament-less seasons at the helm, Archie Miller will hope his returning core plus McDonald's All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and Butler graduate transfer Joey Brunk will make a push in the Big Ten.
Yoeli Childs surprised everyone by announcing his return to the Cougars -- after initially saying he would keep his name in the draft. He put up around 20 and 10 last season and BYU also brings back his inside-outside sidekick, TJ Haws (17.8 PPG). Throw in the addition of graduate transfer Jake Toolson, who can really shoot it, and BYU will look to make the WCC a three-bid league again.
Other deadline returnees: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky; Kerry Blackshear Jr., Virginia Tech; Alpha Diallo, Providence; Payton Pritchard, Oregon; Jaylen Fisher, TCU; Reggie Perry, Mississippi State; Steven Enoch, Louisville; Davion Mintz, Creighton; Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati; Savion Flagg, Texas A&M; A.J. Lawson, South Carolina; Javin DeLaurier, Duke; Kevin Samuel, TCU; Nathan Knight, William & Mary; Jalen Pickett, Siena; Donnie Tillman, Utah; Lamar Stevens, Penn State; Ethan Thompson, Oregon State; Xavier Sneed, Kansas State
The Volunteers have been one of the most successful teams in college basketball the past two seasons, earning the SEC regular-season title in 2018 and winning 31 games last season. Now, Rick Barnes will face a rebuild. Admiral Schofield was a senior and Grant Williams left for the NBA a few weeks ago. On Tuesday night, it was confirmed: point guard Jordan Bone was keeping his name in the draft, too. Tennessee now returns just one starter from last season's team.
Penny Hardaway and the Tigers have been big winners this spring, but their 2019-20 roster took a hit on Wednesday, when Rayjon Tucker decided to keep his name in the draft. Tucker had never played a game for Memphis, committing earlier this month after graduating and transferring from Little Rock. Tucker was one of the best grad transfers in the country and would have provided experience and a high-level scorer on the wing. Without Tucker, Hardaway is relying almost entirely on freshmen next season.
After Jared Harper impressed at the G League Elite Camp earlier this month, it was clear he was going to keep his name in the draft. But along with the early-entry departure of Chuma Okeke and the graduation of seniors Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar and Horace Spencer, Bruce Pearl is facing a rebuild. It will be an uphill climb to come anywhere close to last season's Final Four run.
The Cougars have won 60 games the past two seasons, but Kelvin Sampson faces a tough task after Armoni Brooks decided to keep his name in the draft. Along with Corey Davis Jr., the team's lone double-figure scorers are both gone -- and two more starters have departed in Galen Robinson and Breaon Brady. Houston will be outside the next preseason top-25 update.
The Wolfpack got Markell Johnson back recently, but incoming freshman Jalen Lecque (who played a prep year at Brewster Academy after graduating high school) decided to go straight to the NBA. It's been clear for almost a year that Lecque wanted to go that route if possible, and NC State prepared as if he would go to the NBA. Kevin Keatts' team barely missed the NCAA tournament last season and Lecque might have helped them get over the hump next season.
It didn't come as a surprise, but Jaylen Nowell made it official on Tuesday night that he was keeping his name in the draft. Washington is going to get preseason top-20 looks due to the additions of top-10 freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels and Kentucky transfer Quade Green, but the loss of Nowell still stings. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year last season.
Tom Crean and the Bulldogs are likely to take a step forward next season, but it will come without forward Nic Claxton. He opted to remain in the draft after an impressive spring. Crean will have to rely on top-five prospect Anthony Edwards, three other ESPN 100 prospects and Northeastern graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr.