It’s June and that means all eyes in the men’s college basketball world are on the players who have declared for the 2021 NBA draft. Some players have left the door open for a potential return to college and those players could be the difference between making the NCAA tournament or not, or even a potential Final Four run.
On the latest March Madness 365 podcast , March Madness correspondent Andy Katz ranked the 10 most important players who have entered their names into the NBA draft who have important stay-or-go decisions to make.
You can listen to the latest #MM365 podcast below. The rankings begin around the 20:50 mark. Here are the players who have filed as early entry candidates for the draft.
Here are the 10 most important men’s basketball players who have to decide between staying in the NBA draft or returning to college, according to Katz.
10. Tyson Etienne, Wichita State
Etienne was named American Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year last season after helping Wichita State win the regular-season conference title and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. He was a unanimous First Team All-AAC selection.
As a sophomore, Etienne averaged 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 39.2 percent from three.
9. Armando Bacot, North Carolina
Bacot, a 6-10, 240-pound forward, averaged a career-best 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while starting all but one game he played. His field goal percentage took a huge jump from his freshman year, improving from 46.9 percent to 62.8 percent.
He had seven double-doubles last season, including three in the span of four games at the conclusion of the regular season and the start of the ACC tournament.
8. Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
Abmas, the dynamo of a lead guard for Oral Roberts who led the 15th-seeded Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16, and on the verge of the Elite Eight, could return to college after he averaged 24.6 points per game last season, while putting up uber-efficient shooting splits of 52.1 percent from two, 43.3 percent from three and 89.0 percent from the free throw line.
He scored in double figures in 27 of 28 games last season, including two 40-point games in a two-week stretch. In three NCAA tournament games, Abmas scored 29 points against Ohio State, 26 points against Florida and 25 points against Arkansas, while making 10 3-pointers in those three games.
7. Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers
Harper led Rutgers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991 after averaging a career-high 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He also posted the best free-throw shooting percentage of his career — 73.6 percent on a career-best 3.2 attempts per game.
Harper scored at least 20 points seven times last season, including a season-high 30 points against Fairleigh Dickinson.
6. Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
As a junior, the 6-6 guard averaged a career-best 14.8 points per game alongside national player of the year Luka Garza. Wieskamp had the best 3-point shooting season of his career as he made 46.2 percent of his 5.1 3-point attempts per game. He also grabbed a career-high 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
He scored in double figures in Iowa’s last 14 games of the season, including a season-high 26 points against Rutgers.
5. E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
Liddell improved his scoring average by nearly 10 points per game from his freshman year (6.7 ppg) to his sophomore campaign (16.2 ppg), while also pulling down a career-high 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.
His 3-point shooting took an important leap from 19.2 percent on 26 total attempts as a freshman to 33.8 percent on 80 attempts as a sophomore.
4. Miles McBride, West Virginia
As a sophomore, McBride led West Virginia in scoring at 15.9 points per game — an increase of 6.4 points per game from his freshman season. McBride’s 3-point shooting climbed from 30.4 percent to 41.4 percent and he was an 81-percent free-throw shooter, making him an efficient scorer for the Mountaineers.
3. Remy Martin, Kansas
Former Arizona State guard Remy Martin both entered his name into the NBA draft and announced he is transferring to Kansas, which means if he withdraws his name, then the Jayhawks will have a fifth-year senior who averaged 19.1 points per game in each of the last two seasons. He shot 49 percent from the field in each of the last two seasons and he made 34.6 percent of his attempts from three last season, which was his best mark since his freshman season.
He scored at least 20 points in eight consecutive games last season, including three games during that span with at least 30 points.
2. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
Michigan’s 7-footer averaged 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season, helping the Wolverines go 23-5, win the Big Ten and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. He was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, while shooting 60 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line.
Dickinson was named a consensus Second Team All-American and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
1. Johnny Juzang, UCLA
Juzang was integral in UCLA’s unlikely run from the First Four to the Final Four, as he finished the 2021 NCAA tournament with a tournament-high 137 points — 15 more than anyone else in the tournament. In succession, he scored 23, 27, 17, 13, 28 and 29 points, saving his two highest NCAA tournament point totals for a win over No. 1 seed Michigan in the Elite Eight and in a heart-breaking defeat against No. 1 seed Gonzaga.
For the season, Juzang, a 6-6 guard, averaged 16 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 50 percent from 2-point range, 35.3 percent from three and 87.7 percent at the free-throw line.