The 2021 NBA draft retirement deadline came and went on Wednesday, giving men’s college basketball teams more clarity on their rosters for the upcoming 2021-22 season. With a loaded shooting class; additional eligibility due to pandemic; and name, image and likeness now at stake; Several major stars who were undecided chose to return to their respective shows.
Not all teams received good news; however, there were some surprise exits. Which hopes for program titles were bolstered by this year’s decisions, and which ones diminished? Our biggest winners and losers are below; note that teams were not penalized for players expected to leave.
UCLA will be dangerous next season. Johnny Juzang and Cody Riley dropped out of the draft on Wednesday, meaning Mick Cronin brings back nearly every member of a roster that made it to the men’s Final Four in 2021 (only senior Chris Smith left). Juzang received an invitation to the NBA team and was a potential second-round pick, and UCLA will benefit greatly from bringing the tournament star back from the NCAA. He averaged 16.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists last season, putting college basketball on notice with a combined 57 points in the Elite Eight and Final Four.
The Bruins also bring in some new additions that make this team even more of a threat to the rest of the college players. Transferred five-star Peyton Watson and Rutgers Myles Johnson join UCLA as pieces that can contribute immediately, and four-star Will McClendon, who is ranked 60th in the 2021 class for Illustrated Sports, it will also be in the mix.
Marquette was already facing a lot of changes this offseason after replacing head coach Steve Wojciechowski with Shaka Smart and losing a slew of players on the transfer portal. After the deadline, the show will also run out of its two top scorers from a season ago. Guard DJ Carton testified and signed with an agent in late April. Forward Dawson Garcia withdrew from the draft on Tuesday, but announced two days later that he would move to North Carolina instead of returning to Marquette.
The Golden Eagles also lost their third, fourth and fifth leading scorer on the portal, with Koby McEwen transferred to Weber State, Jamal Cain joining Oakland and Theo John signing with Duke. The team returns to just two players who saw significant time on the court last season (Justin Lewis and Greg Elliott). While Marquette got her own transfers in Darryl Morsell of Maryland, Kur Kuath of Oklahoma and Olivier-Maxence Prosper of Clemson, that won’t even be enough to make up for the loss of more than 80% of her score, 76% of her rebound and 91% of his assist production from a 2020-21 season in which he battled for a 13-14 record in a weaker-than-normal Big East.
Winner: St. John’s
Expectations for St. John’s rose significantly this week, thanks to Julian Champagnie announcing his retirement from the draft on Monday. His brother Justin, who went to Pittsburgh, hired an agent in May and will turn pro. Julian received an invite to the combine and probably could have been a mid to late second-round pick, but will instead return to St. John’s to take advantage of a sophomore campaign that saw him named to the first-team All-Big East pick. and a co-winner of the Big East Most Improved Player award.
In addition to returning to their leader in points (19.8), rebounds (7.4) and steals (1.4) from a season ago, Red Storm picked up a key transfer in Hofstra’s Tareq Coburn. The point guard, who committed to the program on July 3, averaged 15.1 points on 39.6% shooting from beyond the arc, along with 3.8 rebounds, as a senior last year. With guard Montez Mathis joining the team from Rutgers as another key transfer (along with Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler and Fordham’s Joel Soriano at the frontcourt), St. John’s could have the momentum it needs to hit the field of 64 for the first time. time since 2014–15.
Before the G League Elite Camp and NBA combined, Aaron Wiggins, a 6-foot-6, was nowhere to be found in mock draft or high-board rankings. He told the media he would base Much of his decision was whether he had a chance of being selected in the first round, and while the decision was up in the air, he was supposed to return to Maryland, but on Monday, the 22-year-old announced that he would give up the rest of his eligibility.
The Terps also lost Darryl Morsell, the current Big Ten Defender of the Year, considered the “heart and soul” of the team. With a fifth year of eligibility due to the pandemic, he left all his options open and decided to transfer to Marquette after receiving feedback from the NBA. Although Wiggins and Morsell are significant losses that are likely to steer the team away from a national title contender, head coach Mark Turgeon is still expected to present a talented unit. Eric Ayala, who led all scorers with 15.1 points per game in 2020-21, returns after testing the draft waters, and Maryland brings trades to Qudus Wahab (Georgetown) and Fatts Russell (Rhode Island).
It has all gone together perfectly for Bill Self over the past week, with the trio of Jalen Wilson, Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin pulling out of draft consideration. Agbaji, who averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists last season, was the most important decision of the group. He received an invitation to the team, but could not raise his shares. The same thing happened with Wilson at the G League Elite Camp.
Now, Kansas is returning to four of its five starters from a season ago along with the addition of Martin, a two-time All-Pac-12 first-team honoree at Arizona State. The Jayhawks also bring in four four-star freshmen, highlighted by Top 50 Players Zach Clemence and KJ Adams. The talent is there for Self to lead his team to the top of the Big 12, in hopes that the show will make it past the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018.
Loser: Ohio State
Many expected Duane Washington Jr. to return to Ohio State next season, but he decided to stay in the draft after doing wonders with his actions at the G League Elite Camp and the NBA combine. Washington was the All-Big Ten team’s third pick in 2020-21, averaging 16.4 points, the team’s best, with 37.4% shooting from deep, along with 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Although EJ Liddell will return after testing the draft, losing to Washington significantly dampens expectations for the Buckeyes this season. Guard CJ Walker also came out in favor of the draft, although that was a much more anticipated move. Ohio State brings in the transfers of Joey Brunk (Indiana) and Jamari Wheeler (Penn State) who are sure to help, but without Washington they go from what was thought to be a preseason top 10 team to a top 25 team.
Winner: State of Arizona
Throughout the past season, it was widely assumed that Marcus Bagley would be a future first-round draft pick; surely Arizona State wouldn’t get it back. But the forward’s stock fell after he failed to compete in NBA games and performed poorly on his pro day, prompting him to withdraw from the draft on Wednesday. He was on the transfer portal and it would have been a huge achievement for any show, so the Sun Devils scored a huge win when he announced Thursday that he will return to Tempe.
Bagley played just 12 games while dealing with multiple injuries in 2020-21, but he impressed in his time on the court, averaging 10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Arizona State has had a turnover-filled offseason after finishing 11-14, with nine new players added to the roster amid numerous starts. While it’s unclear how well Bobby Hurley’s new group will fit in, Bagley’s return is a welcome surprise that instantly improves the Sun Devils.
Loser: West Virginia
West Virginia saw its expectations dramatically lowered this week after Miles McBride announced that he will not be returning to Morgantown. McBride was invited to the NBA team, where he managed to impress scouts and improve his actions, leading to his departure. He led the Mountaineers in points (15.9), assists (4.8), steals (1.9) and 3-point percentage (41.4%) last season. Head coach Bob Huggins will also not have his second top scorer and top rebounder, Derek Culver, who signed with an agent a few months ago.
Michigan is in a prime position to repeat its success in the Big Ten after Hunter Dickinson and the DeVante ‘Jones trade pulled out of the NBA draft this week. Dickinson was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and will once again be the anchor of the paint for the Wolverines in 2021-22, while Jones joins the program after being named Sun Belt Player of the Year at Coastal. Carolina, where she averaged 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game. They both received invitations to the G League Elite Camp, but were unable to improve their stock enough there.
Franz Wagner, Isaiah Livers and Chaundee Brown left the draft program months ago, but with Dickinson back and a host of talented auditions, Michigan looks dangerous. Head coach Juwan Howard brings the top recruiting class in the country, highlighted by five-star forwards Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, who are ranked by SI as the best No. 8 and 9 prospects in the class, and his teammate. McDonald’s All-American guard Kobe Bufkin.
Winner: Texas Tech
The Texas Tech program has had a less-than-ideal offseason with head coach Chris Beard leaving to take over the Texas job in April, but the Red Raiders got a big boost Wednesday when Terrence Shannon Jr. withdrew from the draft. Shannon, who averaged 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season, was projected as a late first-round pick early in the second round in recent months and will look to improve his actions next season.
The guard’s return is great news for new head coach Mark Adams, who lost Mac McClung in the draft (as expected) and had key guards Kyler Edwards and Micah Peavy transferred. Shannon will anchor the team alongside returning starters Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva, vastly improving the Red Raiders’ chances of a spot in the NCAA tournament.
More college basketball coverage:
• SI’s top 10 recruits will have a big impact on college
• Final Rankings of the All-American SI Recruitment Class of 2021
• Congress that analyzes the gender inequalities of the NCAA
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.