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Dribble Handoff: Trevor Keels, Drew Timme among those expected to retire from NBA draft, return to college

Dribble Handoff: Trevor Keels, Drew Timme among those expected to retire from NBA draft, return to college
Written by admin_3fxxacau

With the NBA Draft Combine behind us and the June 1 withdrawal deadline for early entrants looming, some college basketball players are pondering tough decisions about whether to stay in the draft or return to the school. A few notable names have already made their call, with Louisiana Technology big man Kenneth Lofton Jr.. stay in the draft and other college stars such as Indiana Trayce Jackson Davis back to school.

Dozens more are taking their time, processing all the information they’ve received from NBA executives, and trying to make the right decision. For players who remain in the draft but are not considered lottery picks, there is some risk, as those who slip into the second round are not guaranteed to receive guaranteed contracts. Those who aren’t drafted at all will end up having to fend for themselves in hopes of earning two-way contracts as undrafted free agents with the possibility of ending up in the G League or overseas.

Since many players now have the opportunity to earn money playing college basketball, going back to school can be more and more appealing than a life on the fringes of professional basketball. However, some are simply ready to begin the next chapter of their lives and are willing to leave some college eligibility on the table to capitalize on their youth and begin their professional careers.

So, with the June 1 withdrawal deadline approaching, who would benefit the most from opting out of the draft and returning for another college season? Our writers make their picks for this week’s dribble transfer.

Drew TimmeGonzaga

Timme is the obvious answer because I sincerely believe he can have more fun and make more money in college next season than he would or make playing professional basketball once you consider that the most likely scenario has him playing professionally somewhere other than the NBA. The G League is great for guys without better options. But Timme clearly has a better option — specifically to return to Gonzaga as a first-team All-American for a top-five team and earn big bucks via NIL opportunities. How much money could Timme earn? Not sure. But if Pack Nijel worth $400,000 to someone, Drew Timme should get at least three times as much playing every game on national television and packed arenas while trying to become a forever legend as the player who leads the Zags to their first national championship in school history. Like I always say about stuff like this, in the end it’s up to Timme to decide, and I’ll respect any decision he makes because it’s his life to live. But, that said, if I were him, I’m pretty sure it would be an easy decision for me for all the reasons stated above. – Gary Parrish

Jaylin Williams (Arkansas)

He is getting closer. I don’t think he’s a viable top-40 pick in the NBA yet, but the 6-10 Williams is growing in his game and could become a first-rounder if he decides to come back and play his junior season with the Razorbacks. Arkansas will have a case as a preseason top-five team if Williams is on the roster. That would double in impact, as it would be Hog Hoops’ most anticipated season since the 1990s. Williams closed strong, averaging 14.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in the league’s four NCAA tournament games. ‘Arkansas. He shot 24% from 3 last season; he could reasonably take that north of 30% and extract his stock in the process. Of all the players who are hesitant about what to do, Williams feels about 50/50 right now. He could have the best of it all if he came back, though: Arkansas wouldn’t need him to be THE guy every night, but there would be nights when it did. He could lead a top SEC team and a Final Four contender, and he would almost certainly increase his stats from last season’s averages of 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. An All-American campaign is possible. –Matt Norlander

Trevor Keels (Duke)

Sounds like one of the really tough stay or leave decisions this cycle and kinda reminds me of past decisions like Isaiah Joe’s in 2020, Johnny Juzang in 2021 and EJ Liddell in 2021. There is no clearly obvious and right answer here. If Keels isn’t a first-round player, he’ll be in his top 30s and likely get a guaranteed contract. It’s very attractive. It’s also right in the range where I think you should at least consider going back to school.

Liddell’s path may be one Keels can walk – he eventually went back to college, transformed his body and worked his way to becoming a top 20 pick after projecting himself as a that late first or early second round – but there’s no guarantee here he’d improve his stock with another season (although I think that’s probably the best option). Juzang’s path, for example, is a different but similar decision from a year ago that can serve as a cautionary tale. He may have been a late pick in the first or early second round a year ago and is almost certainly in the early-to-mid range of the second round this time around. His stock didn’t necessarily go down, but another year in college didn’t improve his stock. In retrospect, he might have been better served at the peak of his meteoric run to the NBA Final Four.

With Keels, I feel like he’s more likely to drop out of school than not. But my read on his project prospects is that he would benefit more from another year at college and potentially reap significant financial benefits, assuming good health. He’s still just 18, could spend one more season at Duke in a bigger role, and in doing so, could really show — consistently — what he can do at the college level while proving teams of the NBA its true value. I certainly can’t tell an 18 year old what he should do, especially with that much money on the line, but in a blueblood program like Duke he would be well positioned to supplement any income lost in postponing his NBA career. with lucrative money on NIL deals, one might think. There’s probably no right decision, but he has more to gain by going back to school than staying in the draft. -Kyle Boone

Kris Murray (Iowa)

Kris Murray doesn’t have to look far to find out how opting out of the draft and returning to Iowa for another season could benefit him in the long run. All he has to do is check out the fake drafts that have his brother, Keegan, as the lock to be selected in the lottery after his breakout second season. Identical twins aren’t identical players, but they’re similar enough that it’s easy to see parallels in how they’ll translate to the next level.

As a versatile 6-8 forward, Kris would have the opportunity next season to take a big step the same way Keegan did by leading the Big Ten in scoring last season. He’s already shown enough ability as an all-around defender and outside shooting threat to be a likely draft pick if he stays. But if he returns and gets 35 games under his belt as the primary option for the Hawkeyes, he could become a lottery pick. as well. –David Cobb


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