Sunday, June 14, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Part Four

With about 19 hours until the deadline for players who entered their names into the NBA Draft but did not sign with an agent to withdraw, it's time to take a look at some of the decisions that occurred over the weekend, and then who has yet to make a final decision.

- Arguably the biggest decision of the weekend was Texas' Damion James choosing to come back to school instead of keeping his name in the draft. With him back in the fold, the Longhorns could be a top-five team next season. Five-star freshmen Avery Bradley and Justin Hamilton and Florida transfer Jai Lucas come into the program to join returning starters Dexter Pittman, Justin Mason, along with James. Guard Dogus Balbay and forward Gary Johnson also averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season. Texas and Kansas should have some epic battles in the Big 12.

- Another big return was that of Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal. Lawal is a very athletic forward who is a 15-10 lock every night out. The Yellow Jackets were going to be talented without him, as they bring in an excellent recruiting class, led by's No. 1 prospect, Derrick Favors. Lawal and Favors will be one of the best interior duos in the country. Throw in sophomore Iman Shumpert and freshman Mfon Udofia in the backcourt, and this team should be one of the most improved in the ACC. If Paul Hewitt does not win with this team, his days could be numbered in Atlanta.

- Not surprisingly, UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday signed with an agent and will stay in the NBA Draft. Everyone saw this coming, as he is expected to be drafted in the lottery when June 25 rolls around. Holiday is the fourth UCLA starter lost from last season's team, as Nikola Dragovic is the lone returning starter. Replacing Holiday -- and Darren Collison -- in the backcourt will be rising sophomores Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee, with Michael Roll providing shooting from the wing. The Bruins will definitely be a down a notch next season, although the frontcourt has a ton of talent coming in, namely top-50 freshmen Tyler Honeycutt and Brendan Lane.

- According to Jeff Goodman of, Connecticut forward Ater Majok informed head coach Jim Calhoun that he would be withdrawing his name from the draft and playing for the Huskies. Majok hasn't played a minute for UConn yet, sitting out last season after not being cleared to play. If he does indeed return, he and Stanley Robinson will team incoming freshman Alex Oriakhi to form an outstanding frontcourt. Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson will form one of the best guard duos in the Big East.

- South Carolina got its second bit of good news in the span of a couple days when guard Devan Downey announced he would return to the Gamecocks for his senior season. On Thursday, forward Dominique Archie had also said that he would be coming back. Downey provides an All-America-caliber option in the backcourt, while Archie and Mike Holmes are a very solid duo up front. Even though the Gamecocks might be a step behind Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, they will be in much better position to contend with Downey's return.

- DePaul received both good news and bad news on Saturday, although nearly everyone saw the bad news coming. On the positive side, rising junior Mac Koshwal announced he will be coming back to the Blue Demons. He is a double-double machine, but may need to improve his number if DePaul is going to be drastically improved after its 0-18 Big East campaign. On the other side, Dar Tucker said that he will be hiring an agent and keeping his name in the Draft. When he originally announced he would enter the Draft, he made it clear that it was very likely he would not be returning. DePaul still won't be a contender in the conference, but Koshwal gives them a talented option down low.

- Texas A&M's Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis have decided to return to the Aggies, not surprisingly. They entered their names into the NBA Draft to get additional exposure and fully expected to come back. If Chinemelu Elonu also withdraws his name, A&M could be a solid team in a loaded Big 12. They only lose Josh Carter, and freshman Naji Hibbert should be able to replace him.

- Incoming San Diego State forward Malcolm Thomas, a junior college transfer, withdrew his name from the Draft and should be eligible to play for the Aztecs. He could be an immediate impact player in the Mountain West.

- Illinois State guard Osiris Eldridge informed the coaching staff that he would be returning to the Redbirds. The Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year will hope to lead ISU to the NCAA Tournament after it fell just short last season.

Who's Left on the Fence?

- Jodie Meeks, Kentucky
- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
- Patty Mills, Saint Mary's
- Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
- Austin Daye, Gonzaga
- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
- Taj Gibson, USC
- Chinemelu Elonu, Texas A&M

Stay tuned to March Madness All Season throughout the day for all the latest on draft decisions.

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