As always, Big Ten basketball will reload after NBA draft exits

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2013 - 12:21 AM

Though standouts depart for the NBA, their former teams will reload.

hide

Michigan's Trey Burke, right, and teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. walk down the court during the second half of their NCAA Final Four semifinal game against Syracuse

 

The Big Ten Conference might be losing a handful of high-profile players to early entry in the NBA draft and dozens more to graduation, but it shouldn’t stop business as usual for the perennially strong league in 2013-14.

A few months ago, the 12-team conference was considered by most analysts to be the nation’s best, housing seven NCAA tournament teams and at least five top-25 squads through most of the season. While the Big Ten might lose that prestigious designation, it’s unlikely to fall far — after all, reloading and quickly developing stars is what the Big Ten does as proficiently as any league.

“Last year, they were clearly the best conference in the country,” CBS Sports basketball writer Jeff Borzello said. “This year, it won’t be as clear but they’ll still have multiple teams in Final Four contention.”

Elite players Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (Indiana) are all entering the draft early and will participate in the NBA combine starting Thursday in Chicago along with other pro basketball hopefuls. But there is still a plethora of talent in tow that will both keep the league competitive as a whole and most likely keep the typical league giants on top.

The Atlantic Coast Conference could end up being the consensus “best league,” NBC basketball writer Rob Dauster said, but that has more to do with the strengthening of the ACC — which adds Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh — than any weakening of the Big Ten.

While Michigan loses two of the best players in the country, the Wolverines keep rising stars Mitch McGary — who exploded to average 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game in the NCAA tournament — and Glenn Robinson III. Ohio State has cultivated the next wave with LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. while dynamic point guard Aaron Craft still has another year. Michigan State returns everyone except Derrick Nix, boasting a roster featuring Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, all of whom decided to stay.

“They were definitely the big winner, I think in terms of the people they got back,” Dauster said of the Spartans. “Gary Harris is going to have a huge season next year. … But I think the key for them was getting Payne back — because they didn’t really have anyone else in the middle.”

Many analysts agree that Michigan and Michigan State will be in the national top 10 next year — Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn has them at No. 5 and No. 2, respectively, in his post draft deadline power ranking. Ohio State and Wisconsin should sit comfortably in the top 25.

The one top-five finisher from a year ago that seems most impacted is Indiana, which gets depleted not just by superstars Oladipo and Zeller declaring for the draft but also glue guys Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford graduating and role players Remy Abell and Maurice Creek announcing they will transfer. Even so, the Hoosiers have found themselves lingering in top-25 talk because their six-man recruiting class is ranked sixth in the nation. Indiana’s incoming brawn is one of four Big Ten recruiting classes ranked in the top 30 nationally by Rivals.com, with Michigan (12), Illinois (17) and Purdue (23) rounding out the rest.

“Indiana will take the biggest fall from this past year,” Borzello said. “They lose so much — and the top of the league is still going to be pretty good. But they do return guys that can contribute — Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, guys like that — but they’re going to bank on their freshmen carrying a huge load.”

So what does this mean for the Gophers? Well, only that things won’t suddenly be easier just because some of the top players from other teams are leaving. With the usual contenders regrouping and the bottom half threatening to improve as well, the grind won’t lessen for new coach Richard Pitino’s crew.

But then, that’s the Big Ten.

  • related content

  • Chart: NBA draft combine

    Wednesday May 15, 2013

    NBA DRAFT COMBINEWhen: Thursday-FridayWhere: ChicagoWho: 60-plus top NBA draft-eligible players, including Big Ten early entries Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), Trey...

  • Indiana forward Cody Zeller is projected to be a top-five pick in this summer’s NBA draft, after a sophomore season in which the 7-footer averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

  • Indian coach Tom Crean, left, also will need to replace Victor Oladipo.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 96 4th Qtr 3:31
New York 83
Oklahoma City 1:30 PM
San Antonio
Cleveland 4:00 PM
Miami
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 29 1st Half 2:27
Loyola Marymount 27
Ohio 3:00 PM
Nebraska
Colorado 5:30 PM
Hawaii
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close