NBA draft departures shake up Way-Too-Early Top 25

Early entrants for this summer's draft had to notify the NBA of their intentions by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday. That deadline has passed. So we now have a more solidified picture of college basketball's prospective talent pool in 2018-19.

However, multiple standouts have entered the draft without hiring agents, thereby preserving their eligibility and allowing the option to withdraw by the NCAA's May 30 deadline and return to their college teams.

Plus, a few programs have bolstered their rosters by adding graduate transfers. Things have changed since we unveiled the first edition of the Way-Too-Early top 25 after the national championship game. Expect even more changes as the May 30 withdrawal deadline approaches.

Let's take a look:

1. Kansas

Previous rank: No. 1

Yes, Kansas is still No. 1. That has not changed.

Bill Self lost his entire backcourt after Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick both decided to turn pro. That's after seniors Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk both departed.

A quick examination would suggest a demotion from the No. 1 slot. Let's see what Udoka Azubuike decides to do before making that determination. Azubuike will enter the draft but will not sign with an agent, allowing for the possibility that the most important and efficient player on the roster last season will be back. Add five-star studs Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, along with Cal transfer Charlie Moore (12.2 PPG, 1.1 SPG in 2016-17), and you have one of the top backcourts in the country.

Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson could earn preseason Big 12 Player of the Year honors after averaging 19.2 PPG and 9.9 RPG in 2016-17. His brother K.J. Lawson, who also transferred from Memphis, is no joke, either.

Five-star prospect Romeo Langford will probably pick Indiana or Vanderbilt over Kansas, but that won't change KU's status as a solid national title contender entering the 2018-19 campaign.


2. Villanova

Previous rank: No. 3

This is probably the most vulnerable program within the top 10. Mikal Bridges' decision to enter the draft did not surprise anyone. And Jalen Brunson, the Wooden Award winner, who won his second national title in three years earlier this month, is cashing in and turning pro, too.

But Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman could start the season as preseason All-Americans. If they come back. Both announced their decisions to enter the draft last week without hiring agents.

With Spellman, DiVincenzo (most outstanding player in the Final Four), Eric Paschall, Phil Booth and five-star freshman Jahvon Quinerly, the Wildcats would have a solid argument for the No. 1 spot on the board. Both DiVincenzo and Spellman, however, could sneak into the first round and make guaranteed money. Might be too much to pass up.

Jay Wright's shot at three titles in four years -- something we haven't witnessed since UCLA achieved the feat in the mid-'70s -- depends on the return of two talented prospects coming off a successful NCAA tournament.


3. Duke

Previous rank: No. 2

R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish are ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the 2018 class. Add Tre Jones -- the younger, more athletic brother of Tyus Jones, who won most outstanding player during Duke's run to the 2015 national title -- and you have a terrible matchup for any opponent.

Yes, Duke lost its starting five from last season, but that wasn't an unexpected development. We all knew Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval might join the rest of the starters in the draft, especially with the incoming talent threatening to steal their slots. But the concern about this team remains, and it's even more pronounced after the latest upheaval.

Does Duke have the locker room leadership to steer this program to its potential? That question affected our confidence in this team's previous standing.


4. Kentucky

Previous rank: No. 4

Earlier this month, it seemed as if John Calipari had missed the mark in recruiting, a foreign concept for Kentucky fans during his tenure. And then -- Wait a minute! -- that's Calipari's music! That's Calipari's music! On April 10, Calipari tweeted, "No one truly knows what we are doing until it's done. Finished yet?" after locking up commitments from five-star talents E.J. Montgomery and Ashton Hagans, a likely candidate to reclassify from the 2019 class.

The moves elevated a stacked class that already had Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley to the No. 2 spot in ESPN's recruiting rankings, one spot behind Duke. But Calipari's team might still grow. Reports suggest 2019 standout Tyrese Maxey is considering the Wildcats and reclassification. A grad transfer could come aboard. And the three players who've entered the draft without hiring agents -- Wenyen Gabriel, PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt -- could announce their returns to Lexington, too.

If the latter happens, Kentucky will have a case for the No. 1 place in these rankings, despite losing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo to the draft. And if they all go, Kentucky could still begin the season among the top five teams in the country.


5. Gonzaga

Previous rank: No. 6

Gonzaga missed Killian Tillie (hip injury) in its loss to Florida State in the Sweet 16. The big man, who connected on 48 percent of his 3-point attempts this season, will come back for another year to impress NBA scouts. That's a significant development for Gonzaga.

Tillie is not the only intriguing pro prospect on the roster, however. Rui Hachimura, the 6-foot-8 talent, averaged 11.6 PPG, and Zach Norvell Jr. averaged 12.7 PPG and made 39 percent of his 3-pointers. This group will also get another year from savvy point guard Josh Perkins (5.3 APG).

Brandon Clarke, a 6-8 transfer eligible next season, averaged 17.5 PPG at San Jose State during the 2016-17 season. Mark Few has another team that could win the national championship. You shouldn't be surprised.


6. Tennessee

Previous rank: No. 8

Don't worry about junior Admiral Schofield (13.9 PPG, 40 percent from 3) entering the draft without hiring an agent. He's the perfect candidate to go through the process and return next season more motivated.

A Tennessee team picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC shared the league title with Auburn. The Vols, who finished the year ranked within the top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.com, will boast more ambitious aspirations next season. All but one player (James Daniel III) will likely return, including Grant Williams (15.2 PPG), who won SEC Player of the Year.

Rick Barnes, who won SEC Coach of the Year honors, should have his top six scorers returning. Tennessee will have a talented crew next season.


7. Virginia

Previous rank: No. 7

The loss to UMBC, in which Virginia became the first 1-seed in NCAA tournament history to lose to a 16-seed, only encouraged the doubters. As a result, it's fair to question everything about Virginia basketball once March arrives.

Until then, this remains an ACC contender and dominant force with a defensive style few opponents cracked in the regular season. The Cavs have lost key catalyst Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall, but Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, Jack Salt and De'Andre Hunter, the program's best NBA prospect since Malcolm Brogdon, will all come back for another year and a chance to redeem themselves after last year's postseason failure.


8. North Carolina

Previous rank: No. 9

The return of Cameron Johnson (12.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG) gives the Tar Heels a seasoned star to replace the on-court leadership of Joel Berry II, who led the team to the national title in 2017. Johnson will help his personal cause by improving his 3-point shooting (his success rate dropped from 42 percent to 34 percent last season) and can pursue a national title.

The Tar Heels will have the pieces to snatch another ring for Roy Williams. Three of the team's top four scorers will return, including Luke Maye, who will start next season as a preseason All-American. Arriving in this year's recruiting class is Coby White, a five-star point guard, and Nassir Little, a 6-7 wing ranked 10th in his class who earned MVP honors in the McDonald's All American game.

A top-10 recruiting class and the return of two all-ACC-level players should position the Tar Heels to compete for another title in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.


9. Nevada

Previous rank: No. 10

Caleb Martin (18.9 PPG), Jordan Caroline (17.7 PPG) and Cody Martin (14.0 PPG) -- the top three scorers from a team that averaged 83.0 PPG -- have all entered the NBA draft without hiring agents. You feeling lucky, Nevada?

They're all 6-7 junior wings who could come back to Reno to pursue a national championship. With their size and athleticism, the Martin brothers will make money playing professionally somewhere, even if it's not in the NBA. Caroline, too.

Going through the draft process to obtain vital feedback before returning for another season would make sense. We'll leave Nevada in the top 10, assuming the members of the trio make the decision to play college basketball in 2018-19. Since they're all transfers with four years of collegiate experience, however, their departure is a real threat.


10. Michigan State

Previous rank: No. 11

Tom Izzo's program has endured turnover as well as any in the country during his tenure. Even when the personnel changes, the Spartans maintain the same approach, crashing the offensive glass and dominating the paint.

If sophomore Nick Ward returns, the Spartans will again possess one of the most significant big men in the Big Ten and a guard in Cassius Winston (12.6 PPG, 49.7 percent from beyond the arc) to lead the squad.

You can't replace Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges. They're unique talents. Marcus Bingham, a 6-9, ESPN 100 big man, would complement Ward, Xavier Tillman and Kenny Goins to form a strong frontcourt and back a Big Ten contender.


11. Auburn

Previous rank: No. 5

Auburn looked like a national title contender and SEC favorite a few weeks ago. It seemed probable that Bruce Pearl would lose a few players off this SEC title-winning squad. But few could have predicted the uncertainty now facing this team.

Mustapha Heron (16.4 PPG), the team's leading scorer, has entered the draft and intends to hire an agent. Austin Wiley, who missed last season because of his connection to the FBI investigation, is testing the waters. He has been joined by Bryce Brown and Jared Harper, who have both entered the draft without representation.

Desean Murray, Auburn's leading rebounder, has decided to leave and compete elsewhere as a grad transfer next season. Guard Davion Mitchell will transfer to Baylor. Danjel Purifoy, who also missed last season because of the FBI probe, is set to return, and Anfernee McLemore should bounce back, at some point next season, from a serious leg injury.

But it's too early to know what this squad will look like on May 30. Perhaps the Tigers will get enough back to regain a spot in the top 10. Right now, however, we'll play it safe.


12. Kansas State

Previous rank: No. 19

The Wildcats were too low in our first poll. They lost to just one team outside KenPom.com's top 50 (Tulsa) last season. Plus, Bruce Weber has finished outside the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency just three times in a 17-year coaching career. With another elite defensive squad, Weber's Wildcats reached the Elite Eight, where they lost to Loyola-Chicago.

Xavier Sneed, who made clutch plays throughout the postseason, is back. Junior Barry Brown has entered the draft without an agent. If he returns, every key member from last season returns and the Wildcats might be the most imposing threat to KU's Big 12 title streak.

All signs point to another trip to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament (and perhaps beyond) in 2018-19.


13. West Virginia

Previous rank: No. 13

West Virginia has finished first or second in defensive turnover rate for the past four seasons, a streak that aligns with the presence of senior guard Jevon Carter. Bob Huggins has parted with critical players in the past. But Carter has been the identity of the program over the past four seasons.

Still, a West Virginia team constructed around Esa Ahmad, Lamont West and Sagaba Konate (3.2 BPG) can still tussle with the best of the Big 12, assuming Konate and Ahmad, who have both entered the draft without hiring agents, come back for another season.

The Mountaineers won't replace an impactful player such as Carter. With their style, however, and the returning talent, they're still a top-tier squad in the Big 12, the best league in the country pound for pound last season.


14. Virginia Tech

Previous rank: No. 16

Virginia Tech lasted for only a game in the ACC and NCAA tournaments, which was not the ending Buzz Williams anticipated. In wins over Virginia, North Carolina and Duke last season, however, the Hokies showcased their potential. Now it's time to ask whether they can take the next step after last year's 10-8 finish in the ACC.

Justin Robinson (14.0 PPG, 40 percent from the 3-point line) is back, along with three of the top four scorers from last season's squad. Williams has another strong team that should continue progressing in the ACC.


15. Oregon

Previous rank: No. 25

Dana Altman lost Troy Brown, a first-round NBA prospect, but multiple key players, including top scorer Payton Pritchard (14.5 PPG), return. Plus, Altman welcomes in the No. 4 recruiting class, which includes five-star prospects Bol Bol and Louis King. Bol was only four blocks short of a triple-double in the Nike Hoop Summit this month. The 7--2 athlete and top center prospect in his class is a breathtaking talent.

Oregon will have the kind of lengthy athletes that carried the Ducks to the Final Four in 2017. This year's team never found that rhythm. Bol could turn this program into a Pac-12 power and NCAA tournament squad again.


16. Syracuse

Previous rank: No. 15

To remain ranked this high, the Orange will need Tyus Battle -- a projected late first-round pick -- to announce his return. The sophomore was Syracuse's leading scorer (19.2 PPG) and has not signed with an agent.

Oshae Brissett (14.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG) is officially back, as is Frank Howard, so if Battle returns, Jim Boeheim will have the personnel to build upon last season's Sweet 16 finish. Five-star prospect Darius Bazley chose to turn pro and enter the NBA's G League, but Boeheim is Boeheim. Syracuse will figure it out.


17. Michigan

Previous rank: No. 12

Moritz Wagner decided to take his talents to the NBA after his stunning performance in the NCAA tournament catapulted Michigan to the national title game. That was expected, so why the demotion?

During the postseason (Big Ten, NCAA tournaments), the Wolverines remained an astute and impressive defensive unit when Wagner was on the bench (0.87 points per possession allowed, according to HoopLens.com). But while losing Wagner was expected, Charles Matthews decided to test the waters without signing with an agent. His loss would be a blow.

John Beilein will bring back Jordan Poole and Zavier Simpson and welcomes a top-15 recruiting class featuring standout Ignas Brazdeikis. The Wolverines will remain a dangerous team even without Wagner.


18. Loyola-Chicago

Previous rank: No. 17

Loyola-Chicago spent the bulk of the season overlooked until its Final Four run, despite a top-30 defense, a 40 percent clip from beyond the arc and a true road win over Florida. The Ramblers won't fly under the radar next season.

Clayton Custer and Marques Townes return to drive next season's squad with the help of Cameron Krutwig (60.5 percent on shots inside the arc). The Ramblers will lose key seniors Donte Ingram, Aundre Jackson and Ben Richardson. But the trio of returning leaders proved their worth in the NCAA tournament.


19. Clemson

Previous rank: No. 18

Coach Brad Brownell entered the season on a warm seat, desperate for an NCAA tournament berth. This season's success changed the perceptions of Brownell and his program, which could welcome back three of the top five scorers from last season's squad: Marcquise Reed (15.8 PPG), Shelton Mitchell (12.2 PPG) and Elijah Thomas (10.7 PPG).

Clemson relied on its top-10 defense in 2017-18 and will follow the same strategy next season. Reed and Mitchell have entered the draft without hiring agents, but since neither is ranked among ESPN's top 100 prospects, there's a good chance both will return.

The Tigers have enough returning to justify this slot.


20. Florida State

Previous rank: No. 23

Terance Mann was a star in Florida State's win over Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 (18 points), and he's one of the young pieces Leonard Hamilton returns next season.

The Seminoles had few bad losses in 2017-18 and finished 9-9 in a strong ACC. The NCAA could give Phil Cofer (12.8 PPG) another season of eligibility after he missed the bulk of the 2015-16 season to injury.

CJ Walker's decision to transfer hurts FSU's prospects, but there is still a respectable ceiling for this team, which deserves more hype after its Elite Eight run.


21. LSU

Previous rank: No. 20

Will Wade might have the surprise team of the 2018-19 season. Yes, the Tigers finished 8-10 in the SEC and lost to Stephen F. Austin and other non-tournament teams.

But Tremont Waters (15.9 PPG, 6.0 APG) is a scary talent on a young team that should improve this offseason. Plus, Waters will have a five-star frontcourt with incoming freshmen Nazreon Reid and Emmitt Williams, the stars of the fifth-ranked recruiting class, and Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams.


22. Mississippi State

Previous rank: NR

The Bulldogs should have been included in our first edition. In the NIT, they beat Nebraska, Baylor and Louisville (by 23 points) -- three legit bubble teams on Selection Sunday -- before losing to Penn State in the championship game.

Aric Holman, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters -- three of the top four scorers from last season -- have all entered the NBA draft without hiring agents. Point guard Nick Weatherspoon (10.8 PPG) recently announced his return.

If those four return -- or even three of the four -- a 25-win team that adds a top-20 recruiting class, led by power forward Reggie Perry (No. 27 prospect on ESPN.com), could turn MSU into a player in the SEC.


23. TCU

Previous rank: No. 21

After losing Jaylen Fisher to a season-ending knee injury, the Horned Frogs finished 8-8 over the final 16 games of the season. They reached the NCAA tournament but never realized their potential without the 6-2 point guard.

Fisher is back for 2018-19, along with Alex Robinson, Kouat Noi, JD Miller and Desmond Bane. Jamie Dixon will also add a top-30 class with three four-star recruits. This TCU squad could compete for the Big 12 crown.


24. Butler

Previous rank: No. 22

LaVall Jordan led his alma mater to the NCAA tournament in his first season as head coach. He'll lose Kelan Martin, but returns Kamar Baldwin (15.7 PPG), and Paul Jorgensen and Sean McDermott both return. Duke transfer Jordan Tucker will be available to play in December.

The Bulldogs should get back to the NCAA tournament.


25. Purdue

Previous rank: No. 24

The NBA isn't desperate to find more 6-1 point guards. That's why Carsen Edwards' decision to enter the draft feels more like a learning opportunity than a career move. The sophomore, who led Purdue with 18.5 PPG, should come back for his junior season.

That's the only way Purdue will earn top-25 consideration after losing the strongest senior class in America. But with Edwards and Matt Haarms (2.1 BPG), Matt Painter will have a strong inside-outside combo. Depth is a concern, but Dartmouth graduate transfer Evan Boudreaux (17.5 PPG) will join the program after decommitting from Xavier after Chris Mack's move to Louisville.

Since 2007, Painter's teams have ended a season outside the top 50 on KenPom.com just twice. This will be a solid team in 2018-19.