The NBA season probably won’t happen. What would have happened if the prominent underclassmen stayed in school? Short answer: What’s going to be a tremendous college basketball season could have been an all-time great season.
Texas: The Longhorns lost three players to the first round: Tristan Thompson (4th), Jordan Hamilton (26th) and Cory Joseph (29th). Texas will be led in scoring by J’Covan Brown this year; he would have been their 3rd option if those three guys returned. The Longhorns would be the Big 12 favorite and I think they’d be ranked 4th, ahead of Ohio State, to start the season.
Kansas: Yes, I think Texas would be the favorite in the Big 12, slightly over Kansas. The Jayhawks lost three players early – the Morris twins (Markieff 14th, Marcus 15th) and Josh Selby (undrafted). It’s unclear whether or not Selby would have been eligible (that’s a guess on my part) or even stuck around (transfer?). Kansas, which was a No. 1 seed last March before getting knocked off by a hot VCU team, would open the season ranked 7th with all three players.
Kentucky: Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter (assuming the NCAA let he be eligible)? To that loaded roster? The Wildcats’ 2nd unit is already very, very good but Knight and Kanter would have prompted a slew of “will they go unbeaten” stories. We explored this earlier this year. I think UK would open the season ranked 2nd, with UNC 3rd. Knight went 8th in the draft; Kanter 3rd. And who can forget sharpshooter DeAndre Liggins, who was drafted in the 2nd round?
Duke: Kyrie Irving left after his injury-marred freshman year, but how about an Irving-Rivers backcourt? What’s more explosive than that? I think Duke would open the season ranked 5th if Irving had stayed. Irving was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers.
Michigan: High expectations this season … would have been through the roof with Darius Morris, an explosive point guard. I think Michigan could have challenged Ohio State in the Big 10 with Morris, who left after his freshman season and was taken in the 2nd round.
Connecticut: The Huskies lost Kemba Walker to the draft. He was only the best player in college basketball in 2010-2011. Another season of Lamb and Walker? Lights out, folks. How can you not open the Huskies first overall after they won the title?