The season ended Monday night, but college basketball is never far from the headlines. Since the senior college basketball star is such a rare breed these days, all the attention has turned to the standout underclassmen across the country and the decisions they have to make about the NBA draft.
Many have already been made, and several more will be made by the NCAA's Tuesday deadline. That deadline, however, isn't the only one. If an underclassman declares for the draft by Tuesday and turns his paperwork in, he can't change his mind and head back to college.
But a player can just say nothing and have until the NBA's deadline of April 28 to decide whether to come back to school or go pro. So that's the real date you should be watching.
As for the decisions, here's a look at the players who are either in the draft already or are considering it:
Steven Adams (Pitt): Here's the good news for Adams. He's really tall. And a 7-footer with his potential will certainly earn a slot in the first round. The bad news is that Adams (7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG) is also extremely raw and could have used another year under Jamie Dixon at Pitt.
C.J. Aiken (Saint Joseph's): Aiken's stock could skyrocket in a few weeks. Why? Because he's the perfect next-level inside-outside defender (10.4 PPG, 2.6 BPG). The 6-9 forward has to be more deliberate about crashing the boards in the NBA. But he's so athletic that he could really impress NBA decision-makers in the coming weeks.
Anthony Bennett (UNLV): He's a 6-8 monster who can score in various ways -- a 240-pound athletic marvel who's been physically prepared to compete in the NBA since he was in high school. Plus, Bennett put up video-game numbers in his only season with the Runnin' Rebels: 16.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 53.3 percent from the field and 38 percent from the 3-point line. He's not going to the NBA to warm the bench. He's going to play.
Lorenzo Brown (NC State): The 6-6 point guard probably made the right choice, but he was a better prospect at this time last year. He averaged 12.4 PPG and 7.2 APG this season, but hit just 26.3 percent of his 3s (35.1 percent last year) and committed 3.5 turnovers per game (3.2 per contest last season). But his size and versatility, especially on defense, will be valuable tools for a pro squad.
Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse): No surprise here. Sure, he struggled in a Final Four loss to Michigan in Atlanta and was somewhat shaky in a Round of 32 win over Cal. But his overall performance (4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio in his team's other three NCAA tournament games) showcased the tools that he displayed almost all season long -- and the ones that will transfer to the next level for the 6-6 point guard.
Allen Crabbe (California): The 6-6 shooting guard (18.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 34.8 percent from beyond the arc) simply gets buckets. It's really that simple. He's a capable scorer with the offensive talent to change a game. He can create his own shot, and once he gets into a zone, he's dangerous. Not sure he'll ever be a great individual defender. But it's the NBA. So he'll fit right in.
Archie Goodwin (Kentucky): I really don't have a problem with Goodwin going pro. I don't think he's ready, but he would've been swallowed whole by the talent in Kentucky's incoming recruiting class. He's flawed now (3.1 turnovers per game, 26.6 percent from the 3-point line), but Goodwin (14.1 PPG) is a fast, athletic 6-4 guard who could be a productive player in the NBA in the right system, one that lets him run a lot. He's a streaky jump shooter who commits far too many turnovers, though. That could be a problem for a player without a position.
Myck Kabongo (Texas): An NCAA suspension limited the sophomore to just 11 games this season, but he was pretty solid upon his long-awaited return. Kabongo averaged 14.6 PPG and 5.5 APG. Between his shortened season and his team's struggles, it would've made some sense to come back. But he's also a likely late first-round pick and next year's class is loaded, so you can't really blame him.
Ricky Ledo: Well, this is interesting. Ledo was a partial qualifier in 2012-13 so he never competed for Providence. He was a top prospect in high school (No. 21 in the class of 2012 per ESPN Recruiting), but that's the only tape NBA scouts will have. He'll have to prove a lot in workouts.
C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State): The 6-9 forward (15.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG) has freakish athleticism and an elite skill set. But the motor of the former McDonald's All American was often questioned at NC State. He has gifts, but will he use them consistently at the next level? That's the question NBA execs will deliberate in the coming months.
Ben McLemore (Kansas): The redshirt freshman was special in his one season with the Jayhawks. Yes, he was criticized occasionally because there were times when he didn't appear to realize how dominant he could be. When he wanted to be, however, he was unstoppable. McLemore (15.9 PPG, 42 percent from beyond the arc) could be the No. 1 pick.
Tony Mitchell (North Texas): The buzz surrounding Mitchell was much larger last year, when he was considered a possible lottery pick. His numbers were down this season and his team was awful. He's still a 6-8, 235-pound athlete with high-level athleticism and explosiveness. But he was a better scorer, 3-pointer shooter, rebounder, passer and free throw shooter last year.
Victor Oladipo (Indiana): The Dwyane Wade comparisons were unfair. The Michael Jordan comparisons were just ridiculous. But Oladipo (13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.2 SPG) was arguably the most versatile player in college basketball in 2012-13. And he has the skill and athleticism to compete at a high level in the NBA for a long time. He made the right decision to leave.
Marshawn Powell (Arkansas): He returned from an ACL injury that ruined his 2011-12 season, and the 6-7 forward bounced back with an impressive return that included 14.5 PPG and a 48.7 percent clip from the field. This is a great example of a guy who might elevate his draft stock once workouts begin.
Phil Pressey (Missouri): I don't really get this one. Pressey was inconsistent throughout the season, as he averaged 3.5 turnovers per game and shot 37.6 percent from the field. He's a speedy guard who's a fluid playmaker when he's on. When he's off, he's way off -- especially at the end of tight games. I think another season in college, even with next year's strong draft class, would have allowed Pressey to elevate his stock with a more thorough and consistent campaign in 2013-14.
Tony Snell (New Mexico): The Lobos wing had plenty of highs and lows throughout 2012-13. He certainly operated in extremes. But the 6-7 guard has the size and stroke (39 percent from beyond the arc) to play at the next level. Snell (12.5 PPG) is the kind of player who could steal a first-round contract this summer.
Adonis Thomas (Memphis): Another guy who could have used another year in college. He's going to play on the wing in the NBA, but his 29.2 percent clip from beyond the arc and inconsistent jump shot could deter some execs at the next level. He's such a gifted prospect (11.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG), though.
Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State): Thomas averaged 22.3 points per game as he led the Buckeyes to the Elite Eight. The 6-7 forward is definitely a tweener at the next level. He's not a power forward and he's not really a true wing. But he'll score wherever a pro team puts him. His draft position has fluctuated for years. He's not a great defender, but his offensive versatility alone will help him earn a spot in this summer's draft -- although it might not be in the first round.
B.J. Young (Arkansas): The sophomore was amazing in spurts. Young (15.2 PPG) scored 23 points or more in eight different games. But he had just as many single-digit efforts. That wouldn't matter for most point guards, but he's not a real point guard. He's a shooter trapped in the body of an NBA point guard -- a shooter who shot just 22.7 percent from the 3-point line last season. Yikes. That could be a problem for him in the NBA.
Cody Zeller (Indiana): Some folks call him soft. I think he's just Euro. Zeller (16.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG) could be a young Pau Gasol without the consistent jump shot. In the right NBA system, he'll be a key contributor in a few years. Even though he didn't win a national title, another season would have been another season for critics to focus on what he can't do instead of what he can.
WHO'S PROBABLY GONE?
Trey Burke (Michigan): The Wooden Award winner grabbed every notable individual honor and nearly led Michigan to the national championship on Monday night. There's just no reason for Burke (18.6 PPG, 6.7 APG) to come back, especially since he's clearly a lottery pick after such an incredible season.
Gorgui Dieng (Louisville): The 6-11 junior led the Big East in rebounding (9.4 RPG) and was one of the top shot-blockers in America (2.5 BPG). Although it's not official yet, Rick Pitino announced Dieng would pursue the pros (he's currently projected as a first-rounder) the day before his team defeated Wichita State in the Final Four. And that's definitely the right call.
Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State): The San Diego State guard put up impressive numbers for the Aztecs in 2012-13: 17.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG. Conflicting reports make it difficult to say if he'll actually leave or not. But the 6-5 athlete clearly has an NBA, above-the-rim game that will be attractive to multiple pro squads. (Editor's Note: A few hours after this story was published, Franklin made it official: He's NBA-bound.)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan): Something crazy could happen. Michigan's four NBA prospects could decide that they have unfinished business and return for another season. But it's not likely. Hardaway's family refuted a report that stated he'd made up his mind about turning pro last week. Hardaway, however, will probably go. Why stay? A bunch of bigger, quicker and more skilled wings will enter the mix in 2014. It's hard to imagine Hardaway (14.5 PPG, 37.4 percent from beyond the arc) boosting his stock any higher than he did during his team's run to the national title game. Now is the right time for him.
Alex Len (Maryland): The 7-1, 255-pound center really has no reason to stay. He's a skillful sophomore big man who could contribute to an NBA roster from the moment he's selected. Len struggled from the free throw line this season (68.6 percent), but at least improved from last season's mark (58.7 percent).
Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA): This week, Steve Alford told ESPNLA.com that he assumed Muhammad would enter the NBA draft. Smart assumption. The Bruins freshman was pegged as a top pick in 2013 when he was a star on the high school and AAU circuit, and he averaged 17.9 PPG this season. He can put up big numbers in the NBA.
Nerlens Noel (Kentucky): A torn ACL toward the end of the season ruined his freshman campaign. But Noel is still projected to be the No. 1 pick by ESPN.com's Chad Ford and others. He led the nation in blocks (4.4 BPG) when he was healthy and nearly averaged a double-double (10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG). Even if it takes Noel a year to recover, he'll still be a great investment for a team with a top-three pick.
Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga): Olynyk redshirted in 2011-12 because there weren't enough minutes available in the paint for the Zags. This year, he emerged as the best player on a team that earned a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament. Olynyk averaged 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.1 BPG and was a fringe national POY candidate. The 7-footer could crack the lottery if he goes pro.
Adreian Payne (Michigan State): The junior is reportedly working with Tom Izzo to attain the proper information about his stock. But the athletic, 6-10 forward was impressive in a pair of double-double efforts against Memphis and Duke in the NCAA tournament. He also demonstrated his versatility (38.1 percent from beyond the arc) throughout the season. He has a rare combo of size, athleticism and range.
Russ Smith (Louisville): Well, Smith initially confirmed a statement from his father, who told multiple outlets that his son would declare for the draft following Louisville's run to the national title. On Thursday, however, Rick Pitino told a local radio show that Smith (18.7 PPG) was "confused." The 6-1 guard will have to be a trustworthy ball handler at the next level. But he's really a combo guard who could struggle to score in the NBA even with his speed (2.7 turnovers per game). He was crucial for the Cardinals, however, in the NCAA tourney. Maybe now is the right time. Or maybe not?
WHO'S ON THE FENCE?
Kyle Anderson (UCLA): Well, his father told the Orange County Register that he's going to return. But fathers haven't been the most reliable sources lately. Let's be clear: Anderson (9.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 1.8 SPG) should return, partially because he doesn't have a position at the next level yet. He's not a point guard. And he's not really a power forward, even though he's 6-9. So what is he? Another year with the Bruins might help him figure that out.
Isaiah Austin (Baylor): Austin has pro skills. He's a 7-footer who held his own in the Big 12 as a freshman. But Austin (13.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG) has one mission this offseason, and it involves eating. A lot. Yes, his 3-point shot needs work, especially if he's going to take 3s as often as he does. But he really needs more weight on his slender frame to battle the bigs in the NBA.
Reggie Bullock (North Carolina): Oh, look. Another athletic, lengthy wing from UNC. Seemed like Roy Williams had 10 guys with the same body type in Chapel Hill. Bullock (13.9 PPG) could earn a first-round spot based on his size and ceiling. For everything he was capable of, however, he was ordinary in some games he could've dominated. Tough call here.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia): Caldwell-Pope (18.5 PPG) earned SEC Player of the Year honors and the Bulldogs were actually decent by the end of the season, thanks to KCP. A 6-5 guard, Caldwell-Pope was one of the nation's most complete players this season and he'll boost a pro team, too, if he makes the jump.
C.J. Fair (Syracuse): The 6-8 forward definitely has a tough call to make. He scored 22 points in Syracuse's Final Four loss to Michigan and was consistently good in the Orange's impressive postseason run. He could gamble now. Or he could use that performance as a springboard for next season.
P.J. Hairston (North Carolina): There's a lot to like about Hairston. He's 6-5, he can play multiple positions, and he can stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting (39.6 percent). He was ranked ninth (120.3 offensive rating) among players who'd used at least 24 percent of their respective team's possessions, per Ken Pomeroy. Can't blame him if he leaves. (Editor's Note: Alas, he's not leaving. A few hours after this story was published, Hairston announced that he would be returning for his junior season.)
Gary Harris (Michigan State): Harris earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, averaged 12.9 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from the 3-point line. All of that with a bad left shoulder that gave him trouble throughout the season and could require offseason surgery. Tough decision for the freshman, who could be a lottery pick.
Shane Larkin (Miami): A month ago, he told a Florida newspaper that he would return to the Hurricanes. That was then. This is now. The sophomore who averaged 14.5 PPG and led a Miami resurgence has not made an official decision yet, so stay tuned on this one.
Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit): McCallum turned down offers from some of the top schools in the country so he could play for his father. But the former McDonald's All American missed out on some of the exposure he would've received if he'd opted for a "big six" school. His numbers (18.7 PPG, 4.5 APG) suggest that he could contend with his counterparts at bigger schools, though. He'll get plenty of looks.
Doug McDermott (Creighton): Earlier this week, his father said he was still deliberating. But the junior is who he is: a big shooter who's going to latch onto an NBA roster because he's a big shooter. No one will expect McDermott to evolve into a lockdown defender or back-to-the-basket threat. His top asset -- his ability to exploit mismatches with his size -- could help him earn a first-round slot if he leaves. Next season, it will be much tougher for one-dimensional players such as McDermott to earn that guaranteed money with all the talent that will be available.
Mitch McGary (Michigan): If the freshman likes money, he should turn pro. He led Michigan to the national title game in a breakout postseason performance that changed the way NBA scouts viewed him. Now, he's a projected lottery pick on some boards after recording three double-doubles in the NCAA tournament. This could be the 6-10 prospect's best opportunity to earn a slot in the lottery. He has a lot to consider.
James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina): He struggled throughout the season because he played out of position. So McAdoo (14.4 PPG) had his game picked apart. But he was often at a disadvantage because he was matched up against legit power forwards and centers. Still, he's an elite athlete with the frame of an NBA forward. And he won't have to play center in the NBA.
Le'Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State): The good? He's a 6-7 talent with NBA skills and scoring ability (14.0 PPG). But he commits too many turnovers (2.6 per game) and needs to work on shots that aren't dunks and layups (24 percent from the 3-point line). The sophomore would be wise to return for another season.
Otto Porter (Georgetown): This guy was born to play small forward in the NBA. Porter (16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1.8 SPG) has every tool an NBA squad covets. But his 5-for-17 effort in Georgetown's loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the opening round of the Big Dance was not expected. Could that lukewarm performance be enough to convince Porter to stay? Only if he doesn't like money, because he can make a lot of it if he decides to leave right now.
Andre Roberson (Colorado): The junior averaged 10.9 PPG and 11.2 RPG this season for the Buffaloes. But coach Tad Boyle told the Denver Post that the third-year forward has received "misinformation" about his draft status. The bottom line is that Roberson hasn't cracked the first round on any reputable draft board. Another season with a more consistent jump shot would probably elevate his stock.
Glenn Robinson III (Michigan): Another guy who should turn pro if he likes expendable cash. But his father, Glenn Robinson Jr., made plenty during his time in the NBA, so he probably doesn't need it. Robinson (11.0 PPG) could take his midrange game to the pros, or he could return and enjoy BMOC status. Tough choices. Both enticing.
Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State): Smart (15.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 3.0 SPG) has a shot at the No. 1 slot in this summer's draft if he declares. He certainly didn't anticipate a first-round exit against Oregon in the Big Dance, but NBA execs know all they need to know about the freshman star. The 6-4 point guard could lead an NBA team as a rookie.
Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke): He's a talented, young future pro. The 6-4 guard could be a first-round pick right now. But that 1-for-10 performance in Duke's Elite Eight loss to Louisville left a sour taste in everyone's mouths. He shouldn't be judged on that game alone. Sulaimon, however, had similar moments throughout the season. He could come back in 2013-14 as a more polished product on a reloaded Duke squad.
C.J. Wilcox (Washington): He might be testing the waters just to get a feel for what he'll have to do to be a first-round pick next season. Because Wilcox (16.8 PPG) is not a top-30 pick on any boards. That could change with another solid season in Seattle.
WHO'S COMING BACK?