Pac-12 Early Entry Decisions: Winners and LosersPosted by AMurawa on April 28th, 2014
With Sunday night’s early-entry deadline come and gone, programs have now gotten past one potential source of damage to their rosters. Kids can still announce their transfers or get in trouble or get hurt, so the names on these rosters can still remain in a state of flux, but below we’ll discuss the winners and losers in the conference after the going pro pothole has passed.
Arizona – It’s not often that you can call a team that lost two players to early entry a winner, but the fact is, the Wildcats lose Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson, but guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley passed on the temptation of the NBA to return for another year in the desert. Of the two who left, there was little surprise, as Gordon is a sure-fire lottery pick while Johnson played well enough this season to probably maximize his attractiveness to NBA scouts (he’s projected as a second-rounder). Meanwhile, Hollis-Jefferson in particular was a serious threat to leave early, with a likely first-round selection awaiting. However, with his return to Tucson, he’ll have a chance to not only improve his draft stock, but also keep the Wildcats near the top of the national conversation.
Oregon – Joseph Young considered forgoing his final season of eligibility for a run at the NBA dream, but the 6’3” shooter likely got word back from scouts to return to school, work on his ballhandling and start playing some defense. As a result, Young will again be a part of what should be a high-flying Duck offense and have a chance to legitimately work himself into NBA Draft consideration next season.
Utah – After a spectacular first season in Salt Lake City, Delon Wright had at least played his way into NBA Draft consideration as a borderline second-round pick. But Wright never even blinked, confirmed his commitment to Larry Krystkowiak’s program early and will return for his senior year. With his versatile and athletic game, Wright has a chance to again impress scouts, and if he can improve his perimeter jumper, he’ll be a sure NBA draft pick come next spring. In the meantime, the Utes’ goal for next season is clear: NCAA Tournament or bust.
Washington – For some reason, back in early April, there was talk that point guard Nigel Williams-Goss was considering forgoing his remaining eligibility at Washington in favor of turning pro, this despite the fact that he was not really in any consideration of being drafted by the NBA this year. So, the good news for Lorenzo Romar and company is that their point guard made a good decision and will return to Seattle for his sophomore season, where he could be the floor general for a surprising Husky team in 2014-15.
UCLA – The way UCLA wound up on this side of the ledger has to be heartbreaking for Bruin fans. Early on, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine announced their intentions to go pro, and if the bleeding had stopped there, Steve Alford’s squad would have been considered winners in this list. And when Jordan Adams opted back in the middle of April to return to school, it looked like UCLA would have a chance to challenge Arizona for the conference title in 2014-15. But, as Adams heard more and more about the potential for him to sneak into the first round of this year’s NBA Draft, and with guys like Kentucky’s Harrison twins and Kansas’ Wayne Selden opting to return to school, Adams had a clear path as one of this year’s best shooting guards in the draft. Long story short, Adams decided to reverse course and head to the NBA, leaving UCLA with just Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Norman Powell (who himself briefly considered an early entry) in the backcourt for next season. UCLA will still be a quality team next season, but with Adams, their potential for greatness probably left as well.
Arizona State – It was no surprise that Jahii Carson decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility in Tempe and head to the NBA Draft. Even as a guy who will probably slide into the second round of the draft, Sun Devil fans held out no more hope that Carson would return in 2014-15 than they did that seniors Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall would be back. So, while this is no big surprise for the program, it is hard to call a team that is losing two seniors, their point guard to early entry and multiple role players to transfer anything other than a loser over the past month-plus.
Colorado – Little did anyone know when Spencer Dinwiddie crumbled into a heap late in the first half against Washington on January 12, that The Mayor had played his last bit of ball for the Buffaloes. After tearing an ACL on that fateful day, Dinwiddie has been locked into rehabilitation mode since then. However, that won’t stop him from being considered a high-upside second-round pick in this year’s draft. Rather than return to school for his senior year, prove his health and sneak back into the first round, Dinwiddie is opting to take his 6’6” frame and high-IQ game to the NBA, so the Colorado you’ll see next year will be very similar to the Colorado we saw this year post-Dinwiddie injury. Tad Boyle will need somebody (sophomore Jaron Hopkins and freshman Dominique Collier are the best candidates) to step up big time to paint over the loss of their leader for the past three seasons.
Oregon State – After considering a jump to the NBA last season before returning to Corvallis for a suspension-shortened junior season, Eric Moreland finally decided to take a flier on a the NBA Draft. His 6’10” frame, ridiculous athleticism and defensive ability give him a chance to earn a late-second round pick, and while there could be extended D-League time in his future, Moreland does have a real chance to be an NBA guy. As for Craig Robinson and the Beavers, this loss, coupled with the more surprising loss of point guard Hallice Cooke to transfer, leaves the cupboard pretty darn empty in Corvallis.