Tuck: College Basketball’s Missing Stars

The 2011 NBA Draft was filled with young stars, and with the lockout those stars aren’t playing basketball.  Imagine if they came back to college for one more year.

College hoops is getting more attention with no NBA playing.  It got me to thinking on how differently this years field would look if they could return all the kids that left early for the NBA.

The kids knew a lockout was a possibility.  They knew they could be leaving and not have any basketball to play.  As of now, they have to be disappointed, right?

I know am I disappointed for them.  For the kids that left for NBA riches, that they have yet to see or experience.  College stars who could have completely transformed the landscape in college hoops this year had they returned to school.

Here are the current rankings in college hoops, and next to them I’ll put the players they lost.

Associated Press Top 25
1. North Carolina
2. Kentucky– Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, DeAndre Liggins
3. Ohio State
4. Connecticut– Kemba Walker
5. Syracuse
6. Duke– Kyrie Irving
7. Louisville
8. Memphis
9. Baylor
10. Florida
11. Wisconsin
12. Xavier
13. Alabama
14. Kansas– Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Josh Selby
15. Michigan– Darius Morris
16. Marquette
17. Pittsburgh
18. Vanderbilt
19. Gonzaga
20. California
21. Missouri
22. Florida State– Chris Singleton
23. Arizona– Derrick Williams
24. Mississippi State
25. Texas A&M

This current top 25 doesn’t include the following:

Butler- Shelvin Mack

San Diego State- Kawhi Leonard

Texas- Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, Corey Joseph

Maryland- Jordan Williams

UCLA- Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee

Washington- Isiah Thomas

Georgia- Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie

Tennessee- Scotty Hopson, Tobias Harris

Washington State- Klay Thompson


If these kids had a do-over, some may have still come out because they had no desire to be in or stay in school.  Just imagine though if these kids could go back to play basketball the impact it would have had on the current college season.

Re-ranking the teams, I’d say it would look something like this:

1. Kentucky- The Wildcats, assuming Kanter became eligible, would be a candidate to go unbeaten this year, let alone with a national title.

2. Texas- The Longhorns would be Big XII favorites with an incredible roster of NBA talent.

3. Duke- The Blue Devils would get back the #1 pick in Kyrie Irving and have the deepest backcourt in America.

4. Kansas- The Jayhawks are lacking size right now and be transformed into an even better team.

5. North Carolina- They got everyone back already, but would slide down the board a little bit.

6. UConn- Too low?  Getting back the heart and soul in Kemba would certainly have them in contention again.

7. Ohio State- Wouldn’t fall too far with Sullinger, Buford, Kraft, and some new freshmen talent.

8. Arizona- Derrick Williams makes this much difference?  Derrick Williams makes this much difference.

9. Michigan- The Wolverines are on the rise even without Darius Morris, but his talent makes them that much better.

10. Butler- Perhaps I should go Syracuse with their size, or Memphis with their athletes, but with Shelvin Mack back in the fold, I probably already have the Bulldogs ranked too low!