Photo Credit: MSN
It’s that time of year for fans all across the country. With all but 4 teams knocked out of the NCAA Tournament teams start to turn their attention to who will stay and who will leave the team and go to the NBA Draft. For the next months, some teams will be on the edge of their seats praying their star decides to return for one more year. For some, the decisions will be easy (RJ, Cam, Zion, Romeo, Little), but for others, the decision will be tough and have HUGE consequences for college basketball.
Here is a look at some of the most impactful players with a decision to make:
Carsen Edwards (Purdue): Let’s start with the player coming off the best run of his career, and one of the best the sport has seen in a decade. For a majority of the season, Edwards was projected to be a mid to late 2nd round pick and while many Purdue fans never understood this, it meant he was probably going to return. Things have changed. Edwards had the best NCAA Tournament since at least Kemba Walker, possibly longer. He made a record 28 from beyond the arc and only played in 4 games. Now some mock drafts project Edwards to go in the 1st Round and teams are on notice. He will definitely be testing, the question is will he leave. His stock is higher than ever, but if he came back Purdue would be a top 5 team. He is a junior so he only has one more year and some still project him as a 2nd round pick. With mock drafts so split on Edwards, the combine could be very interesting. His stock is unlikely to get lower next year, but can it raise? Edwards decision is the difference between the Boilers starting next year in the top 10 or being a fringe bubble team.
Nazreon Reid (LSU): Reid is another big name player, but his journey to this list was far different than Edwards. Reid is a freshman who was a highly touted recruit, and despite playing some great basketball, he never really grabbed the attention of many of the other freshmen. Much like Bruno Fernando at Maryland (another freshman who could be on this list) he was a man inside, but the edge that gives him in college won’t exist as much in the NBA as more players will be able to match up with that strength. ESPN has both Fernando and Reid projected early 2nd round. Can they raise their stock at the combine? LSU will need Reid back if they want to continue to contend next year and not take a step back. This will be a huge decision for Reid and the program over the next few months.
Tre Jones (Duke): Most people have assumed Jones will be gone with all of the other Duke freshmen, but it isn’t that clear cut. Jones is projected late first and even early second by some. Tre Jones brother Tyus went 24th overall after one of the best final four performances this decade and has never gotten a fair shot in the NBA despite being part of the best lineup in the NBA and ranking 9th in RPM last season. Tre Jones is being projected similar to Tyus. So the question is does he feel the same as his brother did four years ago. At that time, I thought Tyus should have stayed and been THE GUY after Okafor left. Even with Ingram the next year, Tyus would’ve been the leader and the go-to guy much like Luke Kennard was his sophomore year. Tre Jones could consider that route, or he can move to the next level with his friends. Many might ask why should we care? It’s Duke they just reload. Well, this year they don’t have a top 2 recruiting class for the first time in 6 years. While many of you are like whatever its 4th, the difference is huge. Fourth is an average great class, with 1 superstar Vernon Carey, and a few other 30-40th ranked recruits. Ask Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Romeo Langford how it goes as a freshmen star with limited help and no reliable upperclassman. Duke never has reliable upperclassman making having a BUNCH of AMAZING freshmen and overwhelming teams with talent their only chance. Tre Jones might be the difference between the Duke everyone knows (and hates) or a Duke team that looks more like a 7 seed (or worse).