College basketball’s biggest winners and losers after the NBA draft deadline

The early entry withdrawal deadline for the NBA draft expired earlier this week, shaking up the super-early college basketball preseason top 25 rankings and providing a clearer 2019-20 picture heading into the summer. 

USA TODAY Sports examines the college teams that won big and lost big from key departures or returnees: 


Louisville. The Cardinals got perhaps the country's biggest returnee in Jordan Nwora, a projected first-rounder who was unable to compete in the draft combine due to an injury. Nwora averaged 17 points a game as a sophomore, and his return gives second-year coach Chris Mack a top-10 team poised to compete for an ACC title. Stephen Enoch is also back. 

Forward Jordan Nwora will return to Louisville. (Photo: Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports)

Kentucky. Whenever coach John Calipari gets anyone back, it's a bonus. While he lost PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro to the draft, he returns key contributors Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to join a top-five freshman class and elite grad transfer Nate Sestina (Bucknell). 

Virginia. Mamadi Diakite, the Cavaliers' hero in the Elite Eight against Purdue, was the final undecided player in the early entry list to announce his return. Now coach Tony Bennett gets two key pieces — Diakite and Kihei Clark — back from his national championship team. They will be key cogs in Bennett's system. 

Maryland. Anthony Cowan Jr.'s return, while expected, makes the Terrapins a top-15 team for a youth-laden group poised to blossom. Bruno Fernando's departure was always expected. Jalen Smith, another NBA-caliber talent, is also back. 

Seton Hall. There was a slim chance Myles Powell (23.1 ppg) kept his name in the draft, but his decision was one that determines whether the Pirates are top-10 or top-40 good. He returns as one of the best scorers in the country and a likely preseason All-American. 


Tennessee. Coach Rick Barnes was rewarded for spurning UCLA and returning to the Volunteers, who have a seemingly bare roster in need of a rebuild. Losing two-time SEC player of the year Grant Williams was somewhat expected, but couple that with the unexpected loss of Jordan Bone (who had a stellar combine) and now the Vols have just one starter coming back from last year's Sweet 16 squad. 

Michigan. The Wolverines lost their longtime coach — John Beilein left for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They also lost their leading scorer in sophomore Ignas Brazdeikis, who kept his name in the draft at the deadline. That leaves new coach Juwan Howard with much less of a top-10 team than the one Beilein expected back in April.  

Memphis. Coach Penny Hardaway's recruiting prowess — the Tigers have an elite freshman class — makes any losses less meaningful, but they are still losses. After losing out on RJ Hampton (the top-five player decided to play professionally in New Zealand), Little Rock grad transfer Rayjon Tucker kept his name in the draft. This hurts, because a proven Division I scorer like Tucker would have provided experience and leadership.

Kansas. Coach Bill Self and his staff were expecting Quentin Grimes to stay in the draft, but his return would have been a huge boost, given how he started to peak near the end of 2018-19. Grimes passed on both the NBA and a return to Lawrence, joining the transfer portal. Still, Self gets point guard Devon Dotson back, alongside now-eligible Silvio De Sousa and healthy Udoka Azubuike. 

Auburn. The Tigers were already losing Bryce Brown to graduation. But now the unexpected NBA departure of Jared Harper from last year's surprise Final Four team puts coach Bruce Pearl back to the drawing board. 

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