As we work our way through April, each day brings with it an announcement from another player declaring his intention to either enter the NBA draft or stay in school. For example, Marcus Smart surprised many observers by saying he will return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. But for every Smart, there's another star with eligibility remaining who has reached the opposite conclusion and made a decision to take the plunge. Today I want to look at which teams will be hurt the most by such early departures.
In order to make this more than a summary of what we all know already, I have two simple rules. I won't bother talking about programs that are losing first-team All-Americans to early entry, or losing players who are certain to go near the top of the first round. Obviously Michigan losing Trey Burke (and to a lesser extent, Tim Hardaway Jr.), or Indiana losing Victor Oladipo (and Cody Zeller) to the NBA draft is a big deal. By the same token, teams such as Kentucky (Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin), UCLA (Shabazz Muhammad), Syracuse (Michael Carter-Williams) and Georgetown (Otto Porter Jr.) naturally would be better off if they could have held on to their talent. But we've known for a long while that many or all of these players would be departing.
Beyond these obvious choices, I want to analyze which programs outside that select circle have been set back significantly because of players declaring for the draft.
As always with such matters, I'm working from the definitive list of who's in and who's out put together by my colleague Chad Ford. Without further ado, here are the teams besides the usual suspects that have been hit the hardest by early departures:
Rick Pitino is losing both Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith. Dieng is projected as a mid-first-round pick, but Smith would really appear to be battling the odds. There's a significant possibility he won't be taken in the first round, and therefore Smith's ability to make an NBA roster is open to question.