No. 1 Kyle Kuzma (Utah)
Kuzma is not considered a lock to even be drafted, leading many to speculate he'd be returning to school. But over the weekend, Kuzma was invited to the NBA Draft Combine. If Kuzma comes back, he projects as one of the Top 5 players in the Pac-12, if not a favorite for conference player of the year. Kuzma's decision is made more critical for Utah by the transfer of two of the Utes' key players: Devon Daniel and JoJo Zamora. Without Kuzma, the Utes will be hard-pressed to finish in the upper tier of the Pac-12.
DECISION: Kyle Kuzma remained in the NBA Draft
No. 2 Aaron Holiday (UCLA)
Steve Alford's team lost its entire 2016 recruiting class to NBA Draft Early Entry and lost two other starters to graduation. That left Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh as the only guys left from the regular rotation; both put their names in the Draft. Holiday is coming off an excellent offensive season (eFG% .571, 4.5 apg), has NBA genes, and is considered the highest upside prospect. If Holiday returns, it will give UCLA one of the most dynamic lead guard combos in college basketball of Holiday and McDonald's All-American Jaylen Hands. If Holiday doesn't come back, Hands, a true freshman, will be the only scholarship point guard on the roster. Holiday was named an Alternate for the Combine.
DECISION: Aaron Holiday returns to UCLA
No. 3 Rawle Alkins / Bruce Bowen / Cam Johnson (Arizona)
With Allonzo Trier returning, the Wildcats are a trendy pick for preseason No. 1 overall. But with Kobi Simmons leaving, the Cats' are thin on the permiter. Top 40 consensus recruit Brandon Randolph will help. But, it's a bit shaky to rely on a freshman like him to start day one for a national title contender. It was initially assumed Rawle Alkins would be back to school, and he still may return, but there are a lot of signs pointing to him staying in the Draft. So Sean Miller began recruiting McDonald's All-American wing Brian Bowen. And Arizona was looking strong in that recruitment, until rumors began to fly that Bowen might be leaning to Creighton. Then Miller turned to Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson. Johnson just finished a lengthy visit to Kentucky, and is also looking at Ohio State and TCU.
DECISION #1: Rawle Alkins returns to Arizona
DECISION #2: The latest reports have Brian Bowen eliminating Arizona, and now down to Oregon and DePaul; UPDATE (6/3): Brian Bowen commits to Louisville
DECISION #3: Cam Johnson could end up anywhere from Oregon to UCLA to somewhere entirely outside the Pac-12; UPDATE (6/3): Cam Johnson appears to be waiting on a waiver from UNC; UPDATE 2 (6/6): Cam Johnson commits to UNC
DECISION #4: 2018 5-Star Zona Commit Emmanuel Akot gives the surprise announcement that he is reclassifying to 2017! Arizona has to be consensus Preseason No. 1
No. 4 Drew Eubanks (Oregon State)
Eubanks entered his name in the NBA Draft, but didn't sign with an agent. With his name being left off the Combine and Alternate list, it would make sense for him to return to school. But that's no certainty, as his father is apparently pushing Eubanks to stay in the Draft, even if it means going undrafted. If Eubanks returns, he will join Tres Tinkle (returning from injury) to form on the top front court duos in the country. The Beavers are adding the brother Stephen Thompson, Jr. (also Draft eligible), and could be a real threat to make the NCAA Tournament if everything goes right. But without Eubanks, the Beavers will be relying on front court players significantly less talented.
DECISION: Drew Eubanks returns to Oregon State
No. 5 Chance Comanche (Arizona)
The other key decision for Arizona will be Comanche, who served as the Cats' third Big this past season, coming off the bench to spell Ristic and Markkanen. Comanche figured to spell Ristic and Deandre Ayton (a top 5 freshman nationally) this upcoming season, and is testing the Draft perhaps as a result. There is all kinds of conflicting info on whether Comanche will return to school, as he should. He recently posted a picture of a Lamborghini on his Instragram, but then it was revealed that it was (apparently) a gift weekend rental from his aunt. If Comanche doesn't return, the Cats will have to rely on freshman Ira Lee as the backup to Ristic and Ayton, which is not ideal. Conversely, if Comanche does return, it will give the Cats a powerful Big man trio for around the basket.
DECISION: Chance Comanche remained in the NBA Draft
No. 6 Simi Shittu / Kavell Bigby-Williams (Oregon)
With Dana Altman looking to rebuild his roster on the fly, things got messy when Brandon McCoy decided to go to college at UNLV, surprising Quack Nation. It was so assumed that McCoy would end up in Eugene that former Juco star, and non grad-eligible, Kavell Bigby-Williams announced that he was looking to transfer. Bigby-Williams was a bigby disappointment as compared to Chris Boucher, but he still played some good minutes on defense. Oregon has Georgetown transfer Paul White becoming eligible and Michael Cage's son, MJ, coming off a redshirt season. They were expected to be complemented by McCoy. Instead, Cage may be forced into a starting role. There is one last possibility: 2018 elite blue chip recruit Simi Shittu may reclassify and enroll in Eugene in time for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, Bigby-Williams still may return to Oregon. So a lot is up in the air.
DECISION #1: Simi Shittu looks very unlikely to re-classify to 2017
DECISION #2: Unclear whether Kavell Bigby-Williams will stay in Eugene or transfer out; he has visited Wichita St. and SDSU
Thomas Welsh (UCLA)
Welsh is perennially underappreciated because he lacks big time athleticism. However, he is a rock under the basket for defensive rebounding and perhaps the best baseline jump shooter in college basketball. UCLA has recruited significantly more personnel for the front court than for the back court, making Welsh's decision less vital for the Bruins. Then you add in that everyone expected Welsh, a strong student, to remain for his final year and graduate, and the decision didn't seem to be as big deal. But Welsh was unexpectedly invited to the Combine over the weekend, making his status more uncertain.
DECISION: Thomas Welsh returns to UCLA
Stephen Thompson, Jr. (Oregon State)
Coming off a rather unimpressive season, Thompson should 100% return to Oregon State, and have the opportunity to play a year or two with his brother. It's unclear how seriously he is thinking of remaining in the Draft, but assuming he does not, he will be a key player for Oregon State this upcoming season.
DECISION: as with Drew Eubanks, Stephen Thompson is returning to Oregon State
Shaqquan Aaron (USC)
With SC's roster crunch, Aaron might be the odd man out for playing time. If he leaves, it will open up a spring scholarship for SC, which will presumably use that scholarship on a transfer.
DECISION: Shaqquan is returning to USC