Following weeks of pre-draft preparation for 2022 NBA prospects — including private workouts, G League Elite camp and the the NBA Draft Mix — underclassmen within the draft at the moment are met with the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline fast approaching on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. It’s expected to be busy on the choice front as on-the-fence players make their final decisions.
We have already seen some major names come off the board and choose to either return to high school or stay within the draft and more are coming soon. Stanford wing Harrison Ingram, a projected first-rounder, is one such name that surprised some, announcing last week he was withdrawing from the draft and returning as a sophomore to Stanford in 2022-23. Louisiana Tech big man Kenny Lofton Jr. gave us one other stunner in a unique direction, because the 19-year-old big who was also within the transfer portal fully committed to staying within the draft after strong showings on the G League Elite Camp after which the Draft Mix.
Still, there are many consequential decisions lurking on the market more likely to are available a matter of hours or days. The NBA has its own separate withdrawal deadline for early entrants that’s slated for June 13 at 5 p.m. ET, but in 12 months’s past almost every underclassmen has decided at or before the NCAA’s own deadline — which implies the subsequent few days might be especially noisy.
As we stare down the deadline, listed below are seven prospects who’ve yet to determine their stay-or-go fate facing very tough decisions.
Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate (Michigan)
There’s been buzz for weeks that Houstan could also be leaning in a single particular direction here after he declined an invitation to the NBA Draft Mix, with rumors rocking around that he could have a promise late in the primary round. For somebody who probably needed a robust Mix to actually move up boards, the rumors definitely make loads of sense.
But Houstan has not hinted a method or one other about his decision, even when his maneuvering across the Mix leads one to invest in a single direction. For Michigan, it’s probably idiot’s gold to place an excessive amount of stock into anything at this point, but history suggests the little things he’s been doing will lead a method or one other to him remaining within the draft.
Diabate is one other Michigan player with a really difficult alternative here. Houstan’s decision seems more cut and dry — if he’s a first-rounder, it’d make sense for him to go — but Diabate’s is one which seems less certain. He isn’t a first-rounder without delay, but he’s had an excellent few weeks of the pre-draft process. And no decision for the draft is clearly made in a vacuum, either. Diabate has been very energetic in the previous couple of weeks figuring out for teams, and while that is exactly what the draft process is for, it would not be surprising if Michigan wound up losing each Houstan and Diabate.
Kris Murray (Iowa)
In barely more positive Big Ten news, Murray was one in all two mix invites who declined to attend — together with the aforementioned Houstan — with speculation stemming from that call swarming that he could also be returning to Iowa.
Murray had a solid sophomore season with the Hawkeyes this past season emerging from a bit player to a rotation player and has physical tools and game to eventually be considered a first-rounder. But he could also be best served returning to school for at the very least another season to prove with NBA value in an expanded role, which he’d likely get with brother Keegan leaving for a spot likely on this 12 months’s lottery.
Julian Strawther, Drew Timme (Gonzaga)
Gonzaga is losing Chet Holmgren but still awaiting decisions from each Julian Strawther and Drew Timme because the deadline approaches. The previous probably has the hardest decision, as he’s considered a late first or early second round prospect. After averaging nearly 12 points and shooting 36.5% from 3-point range last season, he profiles as an interesting NBA role player should he go.
Each Strawther and Timme have real appeal within the NIL market, though, with Timme being arguably essentially the most recognizable name in college hoops and Strawther, should he return to high school, possessing potential to be a real breakout star in college hoops next season with an even bigger role.
Trevor Keels (Duke)
Stay, develop into the potential No. 1 option for a top-10 team while developing into a possible lottery pick. Or leave and accept being picked somewhere between 25 and 40. There lies the battle Keels might be weighing without delay. Could go from role player to star for Duke and first-year head coach Jon Scheyer but could also stay within the draft and possibly get chosen late in the primary round.
I’ve made the case previously that returning to high school might be best for Keels, who could in an expanded role showcase his versatile game and take his talents to the NBA in a 2023 draft where he could also be a top-20 lock. But there’s not likely a transparent alternative here between the 2. With Duke enrolling 4 five-stars and reportedly in the combo to land star transfer A.J. Green, the appeal to possibly be a first-rounder is a troublesome one to pass on.
The draft range on Arizona’s Dalen Terry is increasingly one in all the more tougher-to-pin than almost any prospect on this draft. Could possibly be a top-20 pick, could go outside the highest 40 and neither would surprise me. Hence the conundrum.
Terry was great in his role with the Wildcats last season as a job player who rebounded, nailed 3-pointers and carried a small burden as a playmaker. But Arizona was loaded last season. The production we saw was overall pretty limited, even when he made 37 starts in 37 games. (That is what can occur while you play next to 2 potential first-rounders.)
My hunch is that he’s a primary round pick if he stays within the draft. But I also suspect returning to school may thrust him right into a starring role at Arizona, at which point his stock could skyrocket for 2023 (much like how I view Keels). He’s figuring out for the Pacers on Tuesday before likely doing his final contemplation on staying or going.