Every year, the NBA draft concludes and several big-name college stars are left out in the cold, undrafted.
Many of these players could have returned to college and shined. Additional valuable experience could have led to their stock rising. Instead they battled to get free agent deals, hoping to get a look during NBA Summer League in an effort to secure a roster spot.
This year's draft was even tougher as only 58 players were chosen, with two picks withheld due to team violations.
There were several former college standouts who waited almost five hours, only to not hear their names called.
Here is a look at my "should have stayed in school" team. They went through the draft process without being selected and will now try to hook on without many guarantees.
Julian Champagnie, St. John's
The two-time first-team all-Big East selection ranked second in the conference at 19.2 points per game in 2021-22. One of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award, Champagnie reached double figures 26 times in 31 appearances with 14 efforts of 20-plus points, including a trio of 30-point showings. He worked out for a number of teams but was not picked, and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois
The seven-footer was a double-double guy, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Fighting Illini. If he returned to school he could he played with transfers Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech) and Matthew Mayer (Baylor) on a solid Illinois team. Instead he signed a free agent deal with the Utah Jazz, where he could backup Rudy Gobert. Playing against Gobert in practice could benefit Cockburn.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA
The 6-7 guard led UCLA in scoring at 15.6 points per game, shooting 43.2% from the field. Two years ago he was in the Final Four. Like Cockburn, he inked a deal with the Jazz, a team without a draft pick in 2022. Both Cockburn and Juzang have legitimate opportunities to not only make the roster, but also contribute.
Justin Lewis, Marquette
A First Team All-Big East selection, he averaged 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, earning Big East Most Improved Player honors. He has a long wingspan which should help at the next level. He signed a deal with the Chicago Bulls.
Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt
The son of Scottie Pippen averaged over 20 PPG in each of the last two years at Vanderbilt. He signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, and could challenge for a roster spot. Pippen Jr. was born in Los Angeles.
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