The flood of players declaring for the NBA draft is an annual ritual in April. It is as predictable as cherry blossoms in spring and swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. Every year we ask the players whether they are going pro or staying during NCAA tournament press conferences and breathlessly await an answer that is always subject to change. It's with the same inevitability that we insist on putting out our preseason Top 25 shortly after the conclusion of the Final Four, when we know that circumstances will change drastically in the next two weeks and the whole exercise will have been meaningless.
There is much in flux these days. The teams that are losing players will be vastly different and diminished from our initial expectations. Those keeping players will have unexpected windfalls from surprise decisions to stay. Add in the uncertainty of a potential NBA lockout and the picture is even murkier. With some top talents opting to sit this draft out, some fringe players could be enticed into the draft, as their stock has suddenly been inflated relative to a rather weak prospect pool.
With all of these elements at play, early-entry decisions may seem stranger than usual. But there is one certainty: They will have a profound impact on college teams.
Over the next two days we'll examine the early-entry impact on some notable college rosters. Today we start with those who stand to be hurt by early departures. And as you will see, those that could be burned far outnumber those that are helped by the decisions of their players to return.
There's also one caveat to consider: The speculation and uncertainty is nowhere near over. Players have until May 8 to withdraw their names from the NBA draft and commit to coming back to school. Hands will be wringing until the deadline has come and gone.
Here is how the teams stand based upon the decisions of their players:
Michigan Wolverines: The Wolverines may be losing point guard Darius Morris after his sophomore season. Morris was among the most productive and best point guards in the country in 2011, and was arguably the most improved guard in the Big Ten. While Michigan has some good talent returning, especially Tim Hardaway Jr., Morris was one of the only Wolverines that could create offense by himself.
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