NBA Draft Deadline: Who's in, who's out, and what it all means
NBA Draft Deadline: Who's in, who's out, and what it all means

This article is part of our NBA Draft Deadline series.

Prospects had until Wednesday night to officially retain or renounce their eligibility for the 2016 NBA Draft.

This year, for the first time, college players were granted the opportunity to more thoroughly vet their stock before making a final decision. Prospects are now permitted to attend the NBA Combine, work out for teams, and receive feedback, all while retaining NCAA eligibility, provided they have not signed with an agent.

The move is somewhat of a long-overdue no-brainer for both the NCAA and NBA, and not surprisingly it was universally praised by prospects at the Combine, as Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports reported in great detail.

With all of the decisions now finalized, let's take a look at which notable prospects are in and which are out, and analyze what the decisions mean for the players themselves, as well as their schools.

STAYING IN DRAFT

Ben Bentil, F, Providence

The high-scoring forward seemed to be firmly on the fence at the start of the pre-draft process, but he's steadily risen up draft boards and has likely established himself as an early second-rounder, at the very worst. Bentil has prototypical size and athleticism to vacillate between both forward spots at the NBA level and should be able to hold his own defensively at 6'9", 235 pounds.

With Kris Dunn also moving on, the loss of Bentil, who likely would have opened as the favorite for Big East Player of the Year, is obviously a crushing blow for a Providence team coming off of its third consecutive 20-win season and NCAA Tournament appearance. Ed Cooley has righted the ship for the Friars, but he'll have his work cut out for him next season in what could ultimately be a rebuilding year for the program. On the bright side, Providence returns nearly all of its talent outside of Dunn and Bentil, and Cooley will welcome a four-man recruiting class headlined by four-star point guard Maliek White.

DeAndre' Bembry, G/F, Saint Josephs

Bembry's mind has been made up for nearly a month, as he announced he'd signed with an agent just a week after Saint Joseph's was eliminated by Oregon in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Still, the junior took somewhat of a risk entering the draft. Even after averaging 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists and emerging as one of the nation's most versatile scorers, Bembry was viewed as a borderline-first-rounder. But after strong workouts and an excellent Combine showing, Bembry now appears to be firmly locked into the back half of the first-round.

It goes without saying that Bembry's departure is major blow for Saint Joseph's, which also loses leading scorer Isaiah Miles and third-leading scorer Aaron Brown to graduation. Despite skipping his senior year, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year will go down as one of the best players in school history. Had Bembry come back, he almost certainly would have eclipsed Jameer Nelson's career scoring record, but there's not a whole lot more he could have done to improve his draft position. Declaring was the right move.

Cheick Diallo, F/C, Kansas

Like Bentil, Diallo entered the Combine with his status still up in the air, but after a strong showing on Day 1, he began informing teams in Chicago that he intended to hire an agent and remain in the draft. All along, the expectation was that Diallo wouldn't be back in a Jayhawks uniform after a quiet freshman season that saw him stuck in a limited role following an NCAA eligiblity investigation. Perhaps another year at the college level could have vaulted Diallo into lottery consideration, but the 19-year-old showed enough at the Combine and in private workouts to warrant the decision to stay in the draft. At present, Diallo projects as a late-first-rounder.

As was the case with Cliff Alexander two seasons ago, Bill Self didn't necessarily get the production he was expecting from Diallo, a consensus five-star prospect. But the Big 12 Championship factory in Lawrence will be just fine in 2016-17. Gone are Wayne Selden and 9th-year senior Perry Ellis, but the Jayhawks return Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham, in addition to welcoming No. 1 overall recruit Josh Jackson.

Isaiah Whitehead, G, Seton Hall

All along, the prevailing belief was that the former five-star recruit was leaning toward entering the draft, but the decision came down to the wire, with Whitehead making the announcement Tuesday night via Twitter.


The sophomore was one of the best playmakers in the Big East last season, averaging 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game, but he shot a concerning 38% from the field. Still, Whitehead notched 16 games of at least 20 points, including seven straight to conclude the conference season, leading Seton Hall to the Big East Tournament title.

Whitehead has the makings of an intriguing combo guard at the next level, and he could hear his name called in the back-third of the first round. However, as a high-usage player at the college level, there will be questions about how he'll transition to a non-featured role for the first time in his career.

Had Whitehead returned to Seton Hall, the Pirates likely would have opened as a top-25 team. But coach Kevin Willard will get his other four starters back in addition to welcoming a pair of promising backcourt recruits in four-star Myles Powell and three-star Eron Gordon (Eric's younger brother), who should help mitigate the loss of Whitehead.

Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse

With his stock steadily on the rise, the freshman officially made his decision a few days after the Combine. A four-star recruit out of New Jersey, Richardson didn't enter the year as a one-and-done prospect, but he picked up considerable steam over the second half of the season, scoring in double-figures in 16 of the Orange's last 18 games en route to a surprise march to the Final Four.

With the departure of Michael Gbinije, Syracuse likely wouldn't have the firepower to match last season's run, so it's tough to fault Richardson for striking while the iron is still hot. It would be a big-time surprise if he's able to sneak into the lottery, but at 6'6" with a nice shooting touch, Richardson is an intriguing enough prospect that he'll probably hear his name called somewhere in the first round.

Cat Barber, G, North Carolina State

Despite leading the ACC in scoring at nearly 24 points per game, Barber could have benefited from another year at the college level. He's a relentless attacker and fairly strong outside shooter (36.1%, 3.6 att./gm) but is undersized and, at times, struggles to stay under control. The junior turned in an enigmatic Combine performance – not hurting hit stock, but not doing much to help it, either.

Barber, a likely second-round pick, has acknowledged that he's taking a risk, but it's conscious one. He's the father of an 18-month-old daughter, so the decision to come out isn't entirely rooted in his draft stock.

"It was a decision I had to make," Barber said at the Combine. "I've got a daughter and I need to provide for her needs. I had to think about that."

Another factor in the decision is the arrival of blue chip point guard Dennis Smith, the Wolfpack's most celebrated recruit since Barber committed as the No. 4 point guard in the nation in 2013. Of course, Smith wouldn't simply replace a would-be senior, but Barber's usage almost certainly would have declined with Smith in the backcourt.

Mamadou Ndiaye, C, UC Irvine

At 7'6", Ndiaye's size alone is reason for intrigue, but the junior is far from a lock to hear his name called on draft night. While Ndiaye has steadily improved in each of his three years at UC Irvine, he's a disaster outside the paint on both ends and isn't as dominant of a rim protector as his height would predict.

The Senegal native probably wouldn't have boosted his stock much by returning for one more year, but at this point he's probably going to have to forge his way in the D-League as an undrafted free agent.

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL

Ivan Rabb, F, California

A projected lottery pick, Rabb's decision to stay in school was easily among the most shocking. The freshman made up his mind back in April, opting to forego the workout/Combine/meeting process entirely. He'll be back in Berkley without fellow five-star classmate, and projected top-10 pick, Jaylen Brown, but that means Rabb will now be the man for a Cal team that returns two-thirds of its scoring from last season.

Rabb will be right up there with Oregon's Dillon Brooks as early Pac 12 Player of the Year favorites, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to significantly raise his stock, especially with the 2017 draft stacking up to be one of the deepest in recent memory. At the very least, he'll need to maintain last season's two-way production, and NBA teams would love to see Rabb add bulk to his 6'11", 220-pound frame.

Trevon Bluiett, G, Xavier

The sophomore made the right call withdrawing his name after going through the pre-draft process. That's going to be a common theme for most players on this list, especially those, like Bluiett, who were not invited to the Combine. Bluiett could work his way toward second-round status with another strong year at Xavier, which will open as one of the favorites to make a Tournament run with most of its key pieces from a 28-win team returning.

The Musketeers will need to replace Jalen Reynolds, a junior who should have stayed in school, but that could come in the form of highly regarded transfer RaShid Gaston, who averaged just shy of 16 points and 10 rebounds at Norfolk State two seasons ago.

Kennedy Meeks, F, North Carolina

Meeks initially tested the draft waters but opted to rescind his name after failing to receive an invite to the Combine. Considering he was a late-second-round prospect, at best, it certainly looks like Meeks made the right call, even if he's not the type of player whose stock figures to make much of a leap. He's lost considerable weight since arriving on campus and has improved each year, but Meeks remains relatively slow-footed defensively and doesn't have extended shooting range.

Regardless, he'll return to anchor what will likely be a top-10 team to begin the 2016-17 campaign. North Carolina came up just short last season but should be primed for another run with Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Nate Britt all joining Meeks back in Chapel Hill. That veteran core will be boosted by a strong recruiting class headlined by McDonald's All-American center Tony Bradley and explosive guard Seventh Woods.

Justin Jackson, G, North Carolina

When I spoke with Jackson at the Combine, he sounded like he was still very much on the fence, but the sophomore announced his return to North Carolina the following Monday. Given his combination of length, athleticism and scoring ability, Jackson likely would have been a second-round pick, but he's among only a handful of prospects who will have an opportunity to significantly improve their stock by returning to school.

A former five-star recruit, Jackson's has been a two-year starter for Roy Williams but has played in the shadows of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson. While the Tar Heels return all but three key contributors from last season's National Runner-Up team, this time around it will be Jackson who's in the spotlight as the No. 1 or No. 2 option, offensively. If he's able to continue to shore up his three-point shot and translate the increased usage into better all-around numbers, Jackson could creep into the first round in 2017.

Dedric Lawson, F, Memphis

This was an obvious decision after Lawson turned in one of the worst Combine performances in recent history, recording the slowest times in the Shuttle Run and Three-Quarter Sprint, in addition to notching a Combine-low 28.0" max vert. The freshman's numbers last season – 15.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks per game – were impressive, but it's difficult to overcome a Combine disaster of that magnitude. That said, Lawson remains firmly on NBA radars with the expectation that he'll continue to work on his body over the next year.

Thomas Bryant, F, Indiana

Bryant joins Rabb as one of the more surprising returnees after helping Indiana to an outright Big Ten regular season title as a freshman. While Bryant is still relatively raw, he was viewed as a first-round pick who may have been able to boost his stock in workouts. Instead, Bryant opted to forgo the draft process entirely, announcing his return to Indiana just two weeks after the Hoosiers were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by North Carolina. The decision won't necessarily hurt Bryant's stock – he won't turn 19 until July 31 – but there's always the inherent risk of injury or performance drop-off that comes with bypassing the draft.

Indiana will struggle to replace a face-of-the-program player in Yogi Ferrell, who left as the school's all-time leader in assists, but with Bryant and James Blackmon back, the Hoosiers will join Wisconsin and Michigan State as favorites in the Big Ten. The difference between Big Ten Championship contention and National Championship contention, though, may be the development of OG Anunoby, the uber-raw-but-uber-talented sophomore who could end up making a Victor Oladipo-like ascent by the time he's done in Bloomington.

Nigel Hayes, F, Wisconsin

Coming off of a mildly disappointing junior season, capped off by a miserable NCAA Tournament shooting slump, the expectation was that Hayes would return to Madison without much consideration. While that didn't end up being the case – he went through the full draft process and waited until the final day to announce his return – Hayes ultimately made the right call. He'll return as one of the two or three favorites for Big Ten Player of the Year, with an opportunity to play his way into late-first-round consideration next June. Had he come out this year, Hayes likely would have been a mid-second-rounder, at best, following an unspectacular Combine showing.

For the Badgers, this is excellent news. Hayes was closer to bolting to the NBA than many realize, but he'll return to join a team that brings back its top 10 scorers from last year's Sweet 16 run. The starting five of Vitto Brown, Ethan Happ, Hayes, Zak Showalter and Bronson Koenig is as good as any in the Big Ten, and Wisconsin also gets Brevin Pritzl – a prized, four-star recruit in the class of 2015, who played only four minutes last season – back from injury.

Hayes may not possess the tools to drastically improve his stock next season, but a solid all-around senior year and another deep tournament run would be enough to provide the boost he's looking for.

Josh Hart, G, Villanova

One of the heroes of Villanova's title run, Hart announced (rather emphatically) Tuesday night via Twitter that he'll return for his senior season.


A likely second-rounder, Hart doesn't have much to lose by returning to school. He's already a proven scorer at the college level (15.5 points per game) and rebounds his position about as well as you could ask (6.8 per game). He's not a great playmaker, though that's something he'll have more opportunities to improve upon next season in the absence of Ryan Arcidiacono.

With Hart back in the fold, Villanova will open its title defense on the backs of three returning starters. Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson and Hart are the household names, while Phil Booth, who scored 20 points off the bench in the Championship Game, will step into a larger role. The losses of Arcidiacono and rugged forward Daniel Ochefu will hurt, but Jay Wright welcomes a pair of highly regarded freshmen big men who could contribute right away.

Malik Newman, Mississippi State

A top-10 recruit in the 2015 class, Newman spurned the likes of Kentucky and Kansas to stay home and play for Ben Howland at Mississippi State. One year later, that's looking like it may have been a mistake.

Newman announced his intent to withdraw from the draft Tuesday night, but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily be back at Mississippi State. Per ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Newman's camp is reportedly "split" as to whether Newman should return to the Bulldogs or transfer out of the program. While Newman, who Howland routinely referred to throughout the season as a "one-and-done player" averaged 11.3 points per game, he was reportedly unhappy with his role as the Bulldogs limped to a 14-17 record.

At this point, his status heading into next season appears to be up in the air, but if draft stock is his biggest concern, it's difficult to conceive Newman taking a full year off before resuming his college career in 2017-18.

Dillon Brooks, G, Oregon

Coming off of a spectacular sophomore season, Brooks opted to test the draft waters but wasn't invited to the Combine. The Ducks' leading scorer may have been able to sneak into the second round, but his game is much more "great college player" than "future NBA starter." At 6'6", Brooks has prototypical size for an NBA two-guard, but he'll need to become a more consistent outside shooter off the catch.

With both Brooks and freshman Tyler Dorsey, who also announced his return Tuesday, back in Eugene, Oregon should open as a top-10 team. Four starters return for Dana Altman, as do key reserves Jordan Bell, Kendall Small and Roman Sorkin. The Ducks will have to replace versatile forward Elgin Cook, but the arrival of the nation's No. 1 JUCO prospect, 6'10" Kavell Bigby-Williams, will provide immediate help.

Marcus Lee, F, Kentucky

Lee withdrew from the draft but announced, via an official release through the University of Kentucky, that he won't return to the Wildcats for his senior season. Instead, Lee, a California native, will "transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family," per John Calipari.

While Lee will almost certainly be forced to sit out next season – the NCAA granting a waiver seems highly unlikely in this scenario – the decision isn't overly surprising. Calipari is bringing in arguably his best recruiting class ever, featuring a trio of big-time frontcourt prospects headlined by five-star center Edrice Adebayo and 6'10" forwards Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones. Lee would have a role with next year's team, but it probably wouldn't be significant enough to provide his draft stock a tangible boost.

Even with Lee losing a year, it might be the best move for both sides, long-term. Lee, a former five-star recruit himself, remains raw offensively, but he's a solid rim protector who could benefit from playing a year in a system that features him more prominently on both ends.

Isaiah Briscoe, G, Kentucky

Leading up to the draft, Briscoe, a keystone of Kentucky's 2015 recruiting class, found himself in a similar spot to that of Lee. He'll return as the incumbent starter at at shooting guard after averaging 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, but with blue-chippers Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox – both lottery-caliber prospects in next year's draft – arriving on campus, Briscoe will have to earn his minutes. Briscoe was projected as a borderline second-rounder, so returning to Lexington was the right move. However, it may be difficult for the 6'3" guard to significantly improve his stock if he remains in a secondary offensive role, as was the case last season when he was the Wildcats' third option behind Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray.

Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue

Swanigan was one of the final prospects to make his decision Wednesday. After participating in the Combine and meeting with a number of teams, he opted to return to Purdue for his sophomore season. Swanigan was firmly a second-round prospect, so returning doesn't present much risk, and he should step into a larger role as Purdue loses A.J. Hammons to graduation.

After putting up 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26 minutes per game last season, Swanigan could average a double-double with relative ease in 2016-17, but at 6'9" with fairly unimpressive athleticism, the ceiling on his stock may only be so high. The NBA continues to move away from traditional, back-to-the-basket bigs like Swanigan, whose shooting range is limited. Even with his polished footwork and physical rebounding presence, it's difficult to ever imagine Swanigan climbing past the mid-to-late first round.

For Purdue, the return of Swanigan means Matt Painter will again have multiple skilled bigs at his disposal. The loss of Hammons is significant, but the Boilermakers bring back 7'2", per-minute stat darling Isaac Haas, in addition to do-it-all wing Vince Edwards. Purdue also adds grad transfer Spike Albrecht to what should comfortably be another NCAA Tournament team

Melo Trimble, G, Maryland

In speaking with Trimble at the Combine, I got the strong impression that he wanted to enter the draft. The question was whether he could secure a guarantee in the late first round or early second round. After struggling at the Combine and failing to impress in workouts, the answer to that question appears to be "no." Trimble was the last notable player to make his decision Wednesday night, and he'll head back to College Park on mission to recoup his stock and remind teams why he was considered a near-lock for the first round after his stellar freshman season.

With Rasheed Sulaimon, Jake Layman, Diamond Stone and Robert Carter all moving on, the Terps will take a step back, but the return of Trimble should keep the program afloat in what will be a transition year. Junior Jared Nickens and senior Damonte Dodd will both step into larger roles, and a trio of four-star recruits – Kevin Huerter, Anthony Cowan, and former UNLV commit Justin Jackson – could factor into the rotation from day one.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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