NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four
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As next week's May 29 deadline for college basketball players to withdraw from the NBA Draft approaches several schools are waiting to learn the decisions of key players. Though over five months remain until the ball is tipped on the 2024-25 season, the choices reached by star players over the next few days are bound to make a profound impact on a handful of rosters.

National player of the year Zach Edey of Purdue took his decision down to the wire last season before withdrawing his name from the draft and returning to Purdue for a fourth season. He repeated as POTY and led the Boilermakers to their first Final Four appearance since 1980. If he'd opted to stay in the draft, it would have diminished Purdue's potential and reordered the national hierarchy entering the season.

Alabama star Mark Sears also withdrew from the draft before the 2023 deadline and evolved into an All-American for a Crimson Tide team that reached the Final Four. After raising his pro stock with a standout season, he faces another tough decision that will have a significant impact on Alabama's standing entering the season ahead.

The Crimson Tide are one of several teams awaiting word from star players. With the 2024 NBA Draft withdrawal deadline approaching, here is the rundown of the schools with the most at stake as big-name players make their stay-or-go decisions.


Decision to watch: Mark Sears

Alabama has done well enough in the portal to remain an SEC title contender even if Sears stays in the draft. But if he returns, it will make the Crimson Tide a potential top-five team. The 6-foot-1 lefty averaged 21.5 points per game on 43.6% 3-point shooting for the first team in program history to reach the Final Four. Sears earned second-team All-American honors from CBS Sports and would be on the early shortlist for 2024-25 national player of the year if he returns.


Decisions to watch: Caleb Love and Jaden Bradley

The operating assumption is that guards Love and Bradley are returning since neither received an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine. But until they come out and say it, you'll forgive Wildcats fans if they are a bit nervous. This has the potential to be one of the best backcourts in the revamped Big 12. In particular, Bradley looks primed for a junior year leap as coach Tommy Lloyd seeks to fill the production void created by the departures of Pelle Larsson and Kylan Boswell.


Decison to watch: Alex Karaban  

If Karaban stays in the draft, UConn will be replacing all five starters from its national title team. But if he returns for his redshirt junior season, the Huskies will have a reliable stretch forward and veteran leader to anchor their lineup. This decision will have a major impact on the viability of the program's hopes for a three-peat.

Wake Forest

Decison to watch: Hunter Sallis

Sallis enjoyed a breakout junior season at Wake Forest after playing a reserve role for Gonzaga as a freshman and sophomore. The 6-5 guard would be a contender for ACC Player of the Year if he returns and would make the Demon Deacons a potential NCAA Tournament team. If he leaves, coach Steve Forbes will have to lean heavily on promising but unrefined Louisville transfer Ty-Laur Johnson in the backcourt.


Decision to watch: Eric Dixon

Villanova's 2024-25 roster needs help. Senior guard Jordan Longino is on track to be the only returner who averaged more than 0.8 points per game last season. If Dixon withdraws from the draft, that changes. The 6-8 forward can stretch the floor offensively and also bruise with opposing bigs on the block. He rated as his team's most-efficient player last season by a significant margin, per Third-year coach Kyle Neptune needs to make the NCAA Tournament, and it's hard to imagine that happening unless Dixon returns or the Wildcats make some late noise in the transfer market.


Decison to watch: Chase Hunter

Hunter averaged 17.8 points, 5.8 assists and two steals per game while shooting 50% from the field in Clemson's four NCAA Tournament games. If the 6-3 guard returns for his sixth and final season of eligibility, it would help keep the Tigers keep the momentum generated during that Elite Eight run.


Decison to watch: David Jones

Jones averaged 21.8 points per game on 38% 3-point shooting while earning first-team All-AAC honors in his first season with Memphis. It was a breakout campaign for the former DePaul and St. John's wing. With a strong transfer class on the way, Memphis might be the favorite to win a weak AAC even without Jones. But with him, the Tigers will stand out well above the rest of the league.