Wednesday marks the deadline for college players exploring the NBA Draft to withdraw if they wish to retain their collegiate eligibility. That means this is a huge week for college basketball as dozens of potential impact players make decisions that will impact the NCAA landscape for the 2023-24 season.
Some have made it clear from the jump that they are all-in on the professional route and haven't given any hope to their college coaches and fans that they could return for another season. But others have been straddling the fence between turning pro or returning to college for weeks now while going through pre-draft camps and workouts with individual teams.
The idea is for players to garner feedback from NBA franchises so they can make informed decisions about going pro or staying in the draft. In the past, financial circumstances might necessitate that a player turn pro even if their hopes of making a 15-man NBA roster weren't great. But with players now able to profit off their name, image and likeness as amateurs, the college game has at least some .
However, the advent of two-way NBA contracts that allow young players to make more than $500,000 while shuttling between the G League and NBA opens up another professional pathway that can keep a fringe prospect in the draft pool even if they may go undrafted. It's a huge decision for the players, and their college coaches and fan bases will be watching closely.
Here are the 10 college basketball programs with the most on the line as the 2023 NBA Draft withdrawal deadline for college players approaches.
The biggest question here is whether or not star center Oscar Tshiebwe will return. But the decisions of Antonio Reeves and Chris Livingston loom large as well. Both players would bring experience and proven skills — Reeves as a scorer and Livingston as a defender — to a team that could otherwise be unsettlingly reliant on freshmen.
A decade ago, the No. 1 ranked recruiting class with five top-40 players and four five-star prospects would have been enough to make Kentucky the SEC's preseason favorite. Nowadays it's been proven you need some productive veterans to win. If deadline day goes poorly for UK, look for coach John Calipari to take a swing at the handful of quality transfers remaining in the portal.
There is only one player up in the air for coach Matt Painter, but it's a big one. If Zach Edey decides to stay in the NBA Draft, the Boilermakers will have to entirely reconfigure the way they play. The 7-foot-4 center is the reigning national player of the year and was the centerpiece of Purdue's Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles last season. Edey is the difference between Purdue beginning the 2023-24 campaign as the Big Ten favorite or as a middle-of-the-pack team with no clear identity.
There is little reason to expect Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears to stay in the NBA Draft. But coach Nate Oats' 2023-24 roster will be in rough shape if one or both make the surprise decision not to come back. While star freshman Brandon Miller was always expected to stay in the NBA Draft, the other losses have begun to add up and leaving the Crimson Tide looking a little lean. Backcourt players Jaden Bradley (Arizona) and Nimari Burnett (Michigan) are transferring and frontcourt players Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako are staying in the draft.
Alabama needs both Quinerly and Sears back in order to have a case to be atop the league's preseason poll, and it absolutely cannot afford to lose both, lest it be in for a rebuilding season following the program's first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Considering that none of the three are among the 75 players ranked in the CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, it would stand to reason that Auburn is in for some good news with Jaylin Williams, Johni Broome and Dylan Cardwell. Nonetheless, it must be a bit unnerving for Auburn to see its three leading shot blockers simultaneously taking things to the deadline when there are no obvious replacements on the roster. The Tigers need two of three back in order to feel good about where they stand heading into June.
Signs point to both Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin returning after leading FAU on a stunning Final Four run. But if the Owls lost one or both of their leading scorers from last season's 35-4 team, it would take some wind from the program's sails amid the transition from Conference USA to the AAC. With both back, FAU would likely be a preseason top 25 team and the favorites to win the AAC.
It looks like Julian Strawther is going to stay in the draft. But if Malachi Smith and Anton Watson both withdraw from the draft and return to Gonzaga, the program's drop off following Drew Timme's storied career may not be so bad. With coveted transfer guard Ryan Nembhard from Creighton and big man Graham Ike from Wyoming entering, the core of a top 20 team would be in place.
The Bruins have been a model of roster stability to begin coach Mick Cronin's tenure, routinely returning a handful of proven and productive talents from season to season. But unless UCLA gets some unexpected good news on deadline day, Cronin will have a rebuilding season on his hands. Jaime Jaquez Jr., Amari Bailey, Jaylen Clark and Tyger Campbell each seem pretty firm that a return to college is not in the cards. That leaves the spotlight on freshman center Adem Bona, who could be a centerpiece type of player if he returns. But with Bona standing at No. 31 in the CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, even that possibility feels uncertain for Cronin and the Bruins.
Sure, star guard Mike Miles is gone. But TCU will quietly have assembled an excellent roster if Damion Baugh and Emmanuel Miller withdraw from the draft. With a handful of role players coming back and a solid incoming transfer class headlined by former Delaware star Jameer Nelson Jr. and Avery Anderson III from Oklahoma State, coach Jamie Dixon is building another NCAA Tournament team.
The Tigers are already on track to replace a ton of production from coach Dennis Gates' overwhelmingly successful debut campaign. Losing Brown as well would be rough after he led the team in scoring at 15.8 points during a breakout senior season. The versatile forward would be a candidate for SEC Preseason Player of the Year if he comes back, and his return would put the Tigers in the league's upper quadrant. If he stays in the draft, Gates' second team will be largely unrecognizable.
In the immediate aftermath of Creighton's first-ever Elite Eight appearance, it appeared the Bluejays were set up perfectly to build off the success by potentially returning all five starters. Now, it's possible that just two starters could be returning for coach Greg McDermott. First came starting point guard Ryan Nembhard's unexpected transfer to Gonzaga. Then came the revelation that power forward Arthur Kaluma would be entering the portal in addition to exploring the NBA's pre-draft process. Now, with shooting guard Trey Alexander still navigating the pre-draft process, there remains some uncertainty for the Bluejays. However, deadline day became much less stressful for Creighton when star center Ryan Kalkbrenner announced Monday that he is returning to school.