There are more than 100 college basketball players who have officially submitted their names for NBA draft consideration without hiring agents. These players have until May 30 to withdraw from the draft and return to school, if they wish.
Here are the college teams facing the highest degrees of uncertainty with relation to these draft decisions. These teams will see their 2018-19 potential determined, in part, by what takes place this month.
With both Omari Spellman and 2018 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Donte DiVincenzo testing the waters, the defending national champions have a huge stake in decisions made in the next few weeks. Moreover, a glance at projected draft boards suggests both players fall in "could go either way" territory.
If either Spellman or DiVincenzo were sure-thing first-round picks, one might reasonably expect them to stay in the draft. Alternately, if either player was showing up as outside the top 60 entirely, that would usually signal a likely return to school.
Instead, both are currently being projected as potential early- to mid-second-round picks. If they're still in that vicinity at the end of the month, it will make their decisions all the more difficult. Coach Jay Wright will have to wait and see whether he has one, two or zero proven veterans to insert into his starting lineup for 2018-19.
This is actually a fairly unusual situation for John Calipari. The more common sequence this time of year is that Kentucky's contentedly and definitively saying goodbye to multiple early-entry candidates -- and making room for a fresh crop of amazing recruits.
Coach Cal again has the "fresh crop of amazing recruits" part teed up for 2018-19, but he's also in the happy position of waiting to see what three of his veterans will do. Kevin Knox is definitely gone, but Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington and Wenyen Gabriel are all still weighing their options.
Needless to say, a decision by all three to return would be huge for Kentucky. At the risk of drawing reckless parallels to the storied 2014-15 team, it's true that the Wildcats' best seasons have resulted from the usual great freshman class being combined with a fair degree of returning experience.
You can make a case that few players nationally present as large a contrast between current draft stock and likely 2018-19 college impact as Udoka Azubuike.
In terms of his draft profile, Azubuike appears to be a work in progress. Bill Self's big man is a proven 2-point-making machine and promising rim defender, but, ideally, he'd post higher rebound percentages at his size and on a team that gave him little if any competition for those boards. Indeed, whether it's rebounding or low-foul shot-blocking (or, in the best of all worlds, both), Azubuike will likely have to show the NBA something more to offset a lack of 3-point ability to date.
When it comes to what he can do for his college team, however, Azubuike's decision might loom larger than that of any other single player. A return to the Jayhawks would give KU a big lift in preseason polls. Self will have the talent to contend for still another Big 12 title either way, surely, but an early exit by Azubuike would mean KU's replacing all five starters from 2017-18.
When Jacob Evans declared for the draft at the beginning of April, he sounded pretty set on leaving. "I didn't sign an agent yet," he said at the time, "but I'm entering my name with plans on getting picked in the first round. I'm not just testing to come back to school."
Then again, Mick Cronin has been less definitive in the weeks since, saying that Evans' decision is a "daily process." Maybe that's just wishful thinking from the head coach, but if by some miracle Evans does return, UC will likely have the unanimous pick as preseason American Athletic Conference player of the year. Such a turn of events would be a surprise -- Evans is projected as a late first-round pick -- but you never know.
See "Cincinnati." Jim Boeheim's plight is similar to Cronin's, in that both coaches are waiting on a decision from one player who could turn out to be a first-round pick. Meaning don't necessarily count on that player coming back.
In Syracuse's case, that player is, of course, 6-foot-6 wing Tyus Battle. After a sophomore season in which he functioned as the featured scorer for the Orange (while leading Division I in the percentage of team minutes played), Battle is showing up on the mocks as a late first-round pick. He made just 32 percent of his 3s last season, but his sheer number of attempts and excellent shooting at the line suggest there's potential for significant improvement on the perimeter.
It was somewhat obscured by a late-season fade and blowout NCAA tournament loss to Clemson, but consider this your reminder that Auburn won a share of the 2018 SEC regular-season title. If Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Austin Wiley all return next season, the Tigers could be in a strong position to defend that crown.
True, there's a good deal of uncertainty built into that "if." Wiley was suspended for all of 2017-18 as part of the school's internal investigation of activities related to former assistant Chuck Person. We don't yet know what the Auburn roster will look like in 2018-19, but, depending on draft decisions, there's a chance the Tigers will again be a power in the SEC.
It seems unlikely that a potential first-rounder like Khyri Thomas will return to Omaha, but if he does, it will have repercussions not only for Creighton but for the entire Big East.
Thomas is an elite defender who shot 41 percent on his 3s last season. That's a good "3 and D" profile for the next level, and Thomas, who's about to turn 22, might choose to take the leap now rather than waiting until after his senior season.
The uncertainty faced by Mark Turgeon perhaps exemplifies the overlapping yet distinct worlds of NBA and college talent valuation. Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter aren't exactly lighting up the mock draft boards (yet), but they would be highly significant factors in the Big Ten race for 2018-19 if either or both were to return to school.
Fernando's an intriguing rim defender and rebounder who, at 6-foot-10, shot 74 percent at the line as a freshman. Huerter's a proven 3-point threat who's been asked to contribute with everything from assists to rebounds in College Park. While Justin Jackson already has made plain his intention to sign with an agent, Fernando and Huerter would give the Terrapins a big lift if they stay for another season.
Honorable mention: The rest of the Big Ten
Maryland's not the only Big Ten team sweating out May. Whether it's Nebraska (James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr.), Wisconsin (Ethan Happ) or Purdue (Carsen Edwards), the league is not lacking for draft-decision intrigue. Take any and all projected Big Ten standings for 2018-19 with a grain of salt until June 1.