Thanks to the new draft rules, the world gets more times to think about the decisions of all of the guys that aren’t locks for the NBA draft. While the change was fantastic for the players, it can certainly make coaches sweat a little. For all of us non-coaches, it is one of the most exciting conversations leading up to the draft. Some of the decisions do a lot to help predict how a team will be in the upcoming season, and this season is no different. These are the main guys that are still in the deciding phase of their basketball futures that will really impact how their college squad’s season will go.

TJ Leaf, UCLA

Class for 2017-2018: Sophomore

Stats for 2016-2017: 16.3 pts, 8.2 rebs, 1.1 blks .617/.466/.697

Current Draft Projection: 22

This is easily the most important guy on the list. This season, UCLA returned to the classic dominant form that they have enjoyed throughout history. They were the first power conference team to lead the nation in scoring since 07-08, and Leaf was their leading scorer. He is athletic enough to score above the rim and a good enough shooter to step behind the arc. Defensively, he could be bullied at times due to his thin (ish) frame, but is still an adequate rim protector. He was a lottery pick for much of the year, but slipped into the early twenties when the season ended, which could bode well for UCLA. He is definitely a lottery-level talent, and if he sees himself as that also, he might stay to prove that. Without him next year, the Bruins will struggle to be anywhere close to their powerhouse form of this season. But, with him, along with their somewhat-bonkers recruiting class, this is another team that is capable of top-five in the country.

Dillon Brooks, Oregon

Class for 2017-2018: Senior

Stats for 2016-2017: 16.1 pts, 3.7 rebs, 1.1 stls .488/.401/.754

Current Draft Projection: 38

Dillon Brooks was probably on this list last season, too. He is one of those guys that you can basically pencil in stats before the game starts. His consistency and passion on both ends of the floor is something that every coach in the country would love to have on their roster. Oregon does have a good recruiting class coming in and would probably be able to fill the hole Brooks would leave, but with him, this is a top-ten team again. If he stays, then every player from this season’s Final Four run will still be there other than Dillon Ennis. (Chris Boucher is also graduating, but he wasn’t in the Final Four run). That is longevity that is far from ordinary in college hoops.

Johnathan Motley, Baylor

Class for 2017-2018: Senior

Stats for 2016-2017: 17.3 pts, 9.9 rebs, 1.1 blks .521/.273/.699

Current Draft Projection: 35

Motley is really kind of a freak. The fact that he is projected in the second round is one of those draft things that baffles me. He is so energetic, capable of playing a small-ball four or even five, and really, really good on both ends of the floor. I’ll admit, I do not like Baylor. I thought they were ok this year at best, mostly because of the 2-3 zone and their tendency to keep every single game close in the last minute no matter who they are playing. Still, Motley had an insane season. Staying would mean Baylor would again be Kansas’ main threat to lose their Big 12 reign. Leaving would mean a good, but not great year. They don’t have the scoring power without him, or nearly the same lane presence they have with him. He is the difference for a national top-15 season for the Bears and a seven seed in the tournament.

Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Class for 2017-2018: Sophomore

Stats for 2016-2017: 16.9 pts, 8.3 rebs, 1.5 blks .486/.389/.685

Current Draft Projection: 11

So supposedly, stud freshman wing Miles Bridges is legitimately weighing his options about next season. This definitely seems a little insane considering his status as a lottery pick, but for the Spartan faithful, it is certainly exciting. At times this season, it seemed as if Bridges was the only offensive force they had. He can score from virtually everywhere on the floor, whether it be bullying people in the post or stepping out for three, and he pulled off a number of highlight dunks. On the defensive end, he is capable of covering almost every position, and for his age, he is extremely mature on the court. Other than an occasional errant shot, he plays the game like a savvy veteran. Although Izzo has another great recruiting class inbound, potentially including a five-star wing in Brian Bowen, Bridges would be the difference between a good season and a top-8 team.

Note: all draft projections based on DraftExpress

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