After an extended waiting period, the early entry date for the NBA Draft has passed and there’s clarity in the NCAA basketball world.
Typically, the offseason period in NCAA Basketball runs from April-June with a swift pre-draft process. But given that the NBA Draft was pushed back to October, players had all summer to mull over their decisions. Finally, those decisions have been made and some teams have established themselves as huge threats for next season. Here are some of the biggest winners from the early-entry deadline.
Pepperdine waited until Saturday to find out that star point guard Colbey Ross will be returning for next season. Ross averaged a ridiculous 20.5 points per game with over seven assists. He is an absolute blur with the ball and someone I thought should have been getting more traction as a prospect. Ross returns to Pepperdine along with Kessler Edwards to give the Waves one of their best teams of the century. The WCC will still run through Spokane, but with Ross at the helm, Pepperdine has a legitimate shot to be the second-best team.
National Player of the Year Obi Toppin obviously stayed in the draft, but Anthony Grant got good news on Sunday when Jalen Crutcher announced he’d be returning for his senior season. Crutcher might have been the Atlantic 10’s second-best player last season, averaging over 15 points per game on 42% shooting from three. Gone are Toppin, Trey Landers, and Ryan Mikesell from Dayton’s undefeated A-10 team last season, but with Crutcher back the Flyers should once again be a dangerous team.
The Pirates are another team that had the potential to make a deep tournament run last year before the tournament was canceled. While they won’t be nearly as good this season, they did have a successful offseason. They reeled in Harvard guard Bryce Aiken and then on Sunday got word that Sandro Mamukelashvilli would be back for his senior campaign. The versatile lefty forward was a great complement to Myles Powell last season, showcasing the ability to pass and shoot the ball. Now next to Aiken, he’ll look to help lead the Pirates back to the tournament.