Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. eastern was the deadline to for NBA draft entrants to pull out. Most of the players who did so were guys who were said to be, “testing the waters,” which is to say declaring for the draft, but without the services of an agent so as to fit within the NCAA’s definition of amateurism.
Naturally, these are mostly players who were second or third options on their college teams last year, although one (Hamidou Diallo) has not yet even played for his school (Kentucky), and another (Xavier’s Travon Blueitt) averaged almost 19 a game last year. There is a long list of them, which has been largely supplied by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.
The point is, Pull Out Day is a day that has a big impact on the college basketball season each year. It’s sort of like getting a bonus recruit, if you’re an optimist. These are the teams that came out of it best this year, because the water was too cold.
Moritz Wagner, a 6-foot-11 forward from Germany, will return for his junior season after starting all 38 games for the Wolverines last season. He averaged 12 points and four rebounds per game and made 45 3-pointers last season (at a 40 percent clip). This helps mitigate the loss of D.J. Wilson, another 6-10 stretch 4 who averaged 11 points and four rebounds as a junior. The Woverines seemed a team on the rise at the end of the year, winning the Big Ten tournament and making the Sweet 16 after a poor start in conference play.
Trevon Bluiett is going to be on a bunch of pre-season All-America lists. He’s been a mainstay in college hoops for three years already, raising his scoring average from 11 points per game as a freshman to 18.5 as a junior. This makes Xavier a likely preseason Top 25 team.
The Shockers are getting back two draft entrants from a 31-5 team: Big men Shaq Morris and Markis McDuffie. Combined, they accounted for 21.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game last season. Good big men are difficult to find for every college basketball team, but they’re even more of a scarcity at the mid-major level. These are productive players, but even if they were merely competent, it would be a win for WSU.
Like Wichita State, Purdue was in danger this offseason of having its formidable frontcourt slashed to pieces. Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards all had the potential to leave, but as it turned out only Swanigan did. The 7-2 Haas never even declared, and Edwards (the team’s No. 3 scorer) declared but pulled out, meaning the Boilermakers return five of their top six players from a team that made the Sweet 16.
Hamidou Diallo really dragged this out to the last minute. He had until 11:59 p.m. eastern time to pull out, and when the late-night talk shows started to begin and Diallo hadn’t said anything about what he was doing, the Big Blue Nation was turned up in knots. At 11:42 eastern, CBS’ Gary Parrish broke the news Diallo was returning to Kentucky (more on that in a second).
Diallo has not yet played at Kentucky, but he enrolled early at the school and sat on the bench in the spring. A 6-5 wing, Diallo blew everyone away at the NBA draft combine, and his presence will instantly give Kentucky the most athletic player in college basketball, if not the best outside shooter.
The Mountaineers return their starting point guard, Jevon Carter, after a mild draft scare. Carter, who will be a senior in the fall, led West Virginia in scoring (13.5 points per game), assists (3.7) and steals (2.5), and was second in rebounding (5.0). His return gives West Virginia the Big 12’s best hope of ending Kansas’ 13-year title steak.
With Melo Trimble staying in the draft, Maryland was going to be losing its top two scorers if Justin Jackson had done the same. A 6-8 small forward, Jackson averaged 10 points and six rebounds as a freshman last season. Plus, he’s a 44 percent 3-point shooter. After averaging eight shots per game in 2016-17, Jackson could grow into a starring role this year.
Tacko Fall, a 7-6, 300-pound big man from Senegal, is not the world’s most skilled prospect, but he averaged 11 and 10, with 2.6 blocks per game as a sophomore last year. If you haven’t seen Fall play, you’ll get a pretty good understanding of his game from these two stats: 72 percent from the field, 46 percent from the foul line.
The Jayhawks lost national player of the year Frank Mason to graduation, and Josh Jackson to the draft. Devonte Graham is there to pick up some scoring slack, but the return of 6-8 Ukrainian swingman Svi Mykhailiuk gives the Jayhawks size and shooting on the perimeter, though someone else will have to fill Jackson’s role on the defense end. He averaged 10 points as a third or fourth option, and figures to play a more featured role as a senior.
Omer Yurtseven was not necessarily fill the box score as a freshman last season, but he’s a 7-footer from Turkey who is good off the pick-and-roll and can finish above the rim, but isn’t much of a defensive force. The Wolfpack will be able to use all he can give them, having gone 15-17 last season.