Wednesday marked the deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA Draft and retain their collegiate eligibility, and several big names took their decisions down to the wire. Among the most notable were Kentucky center Oscar Tshiebwe opting to and Purdue star Zach Edey choosing to with the Boilermakers.
Edey and Tshiebwe are the two most-recent national players of the year, so their decisions loomed particularly large on the collegiate landscape. But all across the sport, coaches and fans waited with nervous anticipation for players from their schools to officially declare their intentions.
There were some tough blows for college teams, such as UConn forward Andre Jackson Jr. opting . There was also plenty of good news for college teams as some programs learned that multiple key contributors would be withdrawing from the draft and returning to college.
As the dust settles on a big day for the sport and college basketball's rosters for the 2023-24 season continue coming into focus, let's take a look at some of the winners and losers from the draft withdrawal deadline.
Winner: FAU brings back all five starters from Final Four team
The darlings of the 2023 NCAA Tournament cleared one hurdle when they manage to keep the key players from their Final Four run out of the transfer portal. On Wednesday, the Owls cleared another hurdle as leading scorers Alijah Martin and Johnell Davis announced they were withdrawing from the draft. With all five starters back from a 35-4 team, FAU will begin the 2023-24 season ranked and likely as the favorite to win the AAC during its first season in the conference.
Loser: Kentucky hurt by departures
Not only did Kentucky lose Tshiebwe to the draft, but it also lost wing Chris Livingston. Though Antonio Reeves withdrew from the draft, his future at UK reportedly remains uncertain. Regardless of what happens with Reeves, the departures of Tshiebwe and Livingston leave coach John Calipari with some work to do in the transfer portal in order to field a competitive roster. While the Wildcats are welcoming the nation's No. 1 ranked recruiting class, UK is sorely lacking in proven collegiate production and has several open scholarships to fill at a point in the calendar when there is a lack of quality talent available.
Winner: Purdue gets good news from Edey
Edey took his decision into Wednesday evening before allowing every Purdue fan to take a huge sigh of relief. The reigning national player of the year is returning for some redemption after the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. No single player's decision had greater implications for their team than the decision Edey faced. The 7-foot-4 star will have the Boilermakers back competing at college basketball's highest level for the 2023-24 season.
Winner: Michigan State gets a key pair back
With Wednesday's news that A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins are withdrawing from the draft, the Spartans are on track to return five of their top six scorers while adding a freshman class featuring three top-35 players. The last time Michigan State earned better than a No. 7 seed for the NCAA Tournament was 2019, but that should absolutely change with the roster that legendary coach Tom Izzo has assembled for the 2023-24 season.
Loser: UConn loses another to draft
The Huskies were already losing the most statistically productive players of their national title to the draft in Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo. Then came Wednesday's news that do-it-all veteran Andrew Jackson Jr. is staying in the draft as well. That's a brutal trio for coach Dan Hurley to lose, although the returning group of Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan is a nice trio to rebuild around.
Winner: Creighton welcomes back key players
It's been a roller-coaster offseason for the Bluejays since they made their deepest-ever NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight. First, it looked like all five starters might return. Then, once Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma entered the portal while Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner explored the NBA Draft, it seemed like maybe only one starter would return. This week's news that Alexander and Kalkbrenner are on the way back means coach Greg McDermott will have three starters back. He's also added a solid transfer class to help atone for the departures. This team will contend for the Big East title.
Loser: Baylor loses starting backcourt
Baylor is replacing its entire starting backcourt after Adam Flagler officially joined Keyonte George in the NBA Draft by keeping his name in the pool Wednesday. With LJ Cryer transferring to Houston, coach Scott Drew will be relying on a new group of guards to carry the offensive load for a Bears team that will be short on returning production. Versatile forward Jalen Bridges did withdraw his name from the draft, but he'll be the team's lone returning starter.
Winner: Illinois gets Shannon, Hawkins back
Terrence Shannon and Coleman Hawkins were ranked No. 45 and No. 53, respectively, in the CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. Getting both back is a coup for coach Brad Underwood. Without them, this roster would have been murky. With them, it appears to have the right combination of veterans and newcomers to make the Illini a factor in the Big Ten race.
Winner: Sears, Quinerly head back to Alabama
Alabama needed good news from veteran guards Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly. They got it. Both withdrew from the draft and are returning to anchor a group that is losing some key pieces from the first team in program history to earn a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.