That number increased to 92 out of 156 (59 percent) underclassmen that declared for the draft this year. Because of the pandemic, this year’s crop did not have the luxury of an NBA combine which likely led to some of the withdrawal decisions.
Top NCAA Basketball Contenders Get Boost From NBA Draft Withdrawals
The biggest name returning is the 2020 Big Ten Player of the Year, Iowa’s Luka Garza. The 6-foot-11-inch senior will be a preseason national player of the year candidate. Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a game last season for the Hawkeyes.
He is the big reason why Iowa is listed at +1000 to win next year’s March Madness. Garza is good enough to carry Iowa to a Final Four where anything can happen.
Baylor Backcourt Remains Intact
There is a reason why Baylor is one of the favorites to win next year’s college basketball national championship. Jared Butler is one of them.
A 6-3 guard, Butler averaged 16.0 points and 3.1 assists per game for Baylor and head coach Scott Drew last season. Butler and fellow backcourt mate MaCio Teague both declared for the NBA draft after the Bears went 26-4 last season.
Teague also decided to return next season which is why Baylor is a +800 favorite along with Gonzaga to win March Madness in 2021. Teague, also 6-3, was second behind Butler in scoring for Baylor averaging 13.9 points. Teague also averaged 4.6 rebounds per game.
Gonzaga Get Boost with Kispert and Ajayi Returning
National Player of the Year Filip Petrusev (17.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is off to play professionally in Europe, but teammates Corey Kispert and Joel Ajayi decided to withdraw from the draft and return to Gonzaga.
Head coach Mark Few will have Kispert, who averaged 13.9 points and 4.0 rebounds a game, Ajayi (10.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), and five-star recruit Jalen Suggs, a 6-5 point guard who could help Few win his first-ever national championship.
Illinois surprised many last year finishing 13-7 in the Big Ten and 21-10 overall. A big part of the team’s success was due to the combination of guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn, the Illini’s top two leading scorers.
Dosunmu returns after averaging 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists last season. Cockburn, a 7- footer, shot over 53 percent from the floor, averaged 13.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.
Martin averaged 19.1 points and 4.1 assists for Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley last season. He might have been the nation’s best-kept secret before he decided to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. He opted to return to school, which makes the Sun Devils instant contenders for the Pac-12 title.
ASU went 20-11 overall last season and continued to make strides in Hurley’s fifth season with the program. Martin returns to a backcourt that has his teammate Alonzo Verge Jr. and adding Josh Christopher to the program makes the Sun Devils a conference favorite. ASU is listed at +3500 to win March Madness 2021.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.