Already having college hoop withdrawals? A long offseason awaits, but here's a list of matters to keep an eye on before practice starts in October and Dick Vitale's voice becomes a fixture on your television again in the 2016-17 season:
What will next season look like off the court for North Carolina and Louisville? Still no word from the NCAA, but in anticipation, the Cardinals introduced a new round of self-imposed sanctions. UNC coach Roy Williams said during the Final Four that he didn't think the men's basketball program would be penalized. Both programs should receive notification from the NCAA soon, which could have an impact on next season, when both are potential preseason top-10 teams.
Thon Maker's decision
Will the NBA treat him as an international player or an American high schooler? It could make all the difference in the world for players who come to the States. To be NBA draft eligible, a player must be 19 and one year removed from his high school class. Maker played this past season in prep school but will make the case that he was in the class of 2015 and played a post-graduate year. If he is deemed eligible, it could set a precedent for others.
Testing the NBA waters
For the first time, players have the chance to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft and, should they return to school, do the same thing again for two additional seasons if they choose to do so. The rule was designed to ultimately make sure players have solid information on where they stand with pro teams. What will the result be: Pandemonium for coaches who have multiple players leave that they didn't plan on leaving? The status quo with the same amount of turnover? Or more players get feedback and actually return to school to work more on their games?
More NBA infiltration
Last season, five former NBA lifers returned to college to become head coaches to mixed results. Eric Musselman led Nevada to the CBI title. Avery Johnson led Alabama to an NIT berth. Chris Mullin (St. John's) and Mark Price (Charlotte) suffered losing seasons. This season, Terry Porter (Portland) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane) are the pros who have decided to dip into the college ranks to try their luck.
Stay, Jay, stay?
Fresh off a national championship, Villanova coach Jay Wright is already a wanted man. He reportedly is on the short list of head-coaching candidates for the Phoenix Suns' opening. Wright is Philly through and through and still has a daughter in high school, so a move to the NBA may be unlikely. But that doesn't mean the inquiries won't come from NBA franchises.
Return of the powerhouse squads
One thing about next season: There won't be any complaining about the lack of a dominant team. Duke is the early favorite to fulfill that role, but it won't be the only potential candidate. Even with Brandon Ingram leaving for the NBA, Grayson Allen announced his return, along with an outstanding freshman class. The Blue Devils signed the top two players in the ESPN 100 in power forward Harry Giles and small forward Jayson Tatum. That's not to mention Fred Jackson at No. 11. The class overall is ranked second behind Kentucky, but added to the depth Duke has coming back, it's a virtual lock to be named preseason No. 1.
Seniors ruled this season; the younger players will take it back next season. The class of 2015 represented a cyclical pause from the recent norm of freshmen dominating the headlines. The class of 2016 is stacked. Of course, Kentucky got its share of the top 10, which means the Wildcats will return to their old form next season with No. 4 Bam Adebayo, No. 7 De'Aaron Fox and No. 8 Malik Monk as the latest batch of super freshmen to suit up in Lexington.
The "done and one" crowd of graduate transfers will probably be waiting out those NBA decisions by other players to decide what school they best fit. As Damion Lee and Trey Lewis showed last season at Louisville, these players can have an immediate impact wherever they land. Canyon Barry, the son of NBA legend Rick Barry, is a coveted shooting guard who averaged 19.7 points at College of Charleston. He's in the right situation and could be the knock-down shooter for a lineup.
Small forward Josh Jackson, ranked No. 3 by ESPN 100, hasn't made his decision yet; it's down to Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas. No. 13 Terrance Ferguson, a shooting guard who decommitted from Alabama, and centers Jarrett Allen and Marques Bolden, who are 19 and 20, respectively, could take a team to contender status with their signings this spring.
Vanderbilt’s Bryce Drew (Valparaiso), UNLV’s Chris Beard (Arkansas-Little Rock), Oklahoma State’s Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin), Rutgers’ Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook) and Stanford’s Jerod Haase (UAB) moved up to programs with bigger budgets, expanded resources and more television exposure. All but Drew were hired because the previous coaches were forced out, so some rebuilding will be expected.