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Big Ten Tonight: NBA Draft Early Entry Edition

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Let's take a look at which Big Ten teams were affected by early entry to the NBA Draft.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Jereme Richmond surprised some by leaving for the NBA after just one season in Champaign. He wasn't exactly a dominant force last year, averaging just 7 points and 5 rebounds per game and getting suspended for the NCAA tournament due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, but Richmond is a tremendous athlete and has a ton of the proverbial upside. Plus, this year's draft is so weak that Richmond might be able to sneak into the first round and get the guaranteed 3 year contract given to every first round pick,  so it was probably a good decision to bail from the sinking ship that is Illinois basketball under Bruce Weber.

Richmond Draft Express profile

Indiana Hoosiers

No early entry NBA prospects

Iowa Hawkeyes

No early entry NBA prospects

Michigan Wolverines

Tough off-season for Michigan as star point guard Darius Morris, who likely would have been first team All Big Ten, has hired an agent and will forgo his last two years in college. Morris is an intriguing NBA prospect; he's got the size and length to be a match-up problem even in the NBA and is an excellent slasher and passer, but his jump shot is very shaky and is the only thing preventing Morris from being a lottery pick. I'm a bit surprised Morris left rather than return to a Michigan team that could have been a dark horse Big Ten title contender, but again, this year's weak draft class means he might never get another chance to be drafted in the first round.

Morris Draft Express profile

Michigan St. Spartans

No early entry NBA prospects.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

It's been a bizarre couple of months for Minnesota, as Colton Iverson transferred to Colorado State out of nowhere, their best NBA prospect Trevor Mbakwe decided to stay in school, and now it appears junior Ralph Sampson III has decided to enter the draft, although there are some conflicting reports. This move by Sampson makes about as much sense as when T.J. Parker turned pro after his junior year; like Parker, Sampson doesn't have a chance in hell of getting drafted; in fact Draft Express doesn't even have a profile on him. In Parker's case though, he just wanted to go play in Europe, and it sort of made sense since he'd grown up there. This decision by Sampson makes absolutely no sense unless he just hates Tubby Smith and doesn't want to play basketball anymore. Given how little effort Sampson brought to the table during the Gophers' late-season collapse, the story sort of checks out. If I'm Tubby Smith, I'd jump at the chance to get out of this mess; we'll see if Maryland comes calling.

Wing Rodney Williams is also staying in school; Draft Express had him as a lottery pick before last season based on his potential, but after an awful sophomore season, they admit they "may have jumped the gun". Right now Williams is the poor man's Gerald Green, not exactly NBA material.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

No early entry NBA prospects. Feels weird to include Nebraska in these posts.

Northwestern Wildcats

As you likely already know, John Shurna is back for his senior year despite being told by NBA executives that he'd be a second round pick. Obviously this is great news for NU, and if Shurna can stay healthy he definitely has the potential to be an All-Big Ten player. In his interviews yesterday, Shurna said he got good feedback on the things he need to work on to improve his NBA stock, and while he didn't elaborate further, I'm assuming they told him he needs to be a better slasher and better on-ball defender.

In some cases, college players who try to impress NBA scouts can hurt their teams (think a dominant big man who wants to show scouts he can hit jumpers from the outside), but in Shurna's case if he spends his off-season working on getting to the basket and becoming better defensively, it will really help Northwestern. Someone needs to fill in for Juice Thompson as the go-to guy when the shot clock is running down; hopefully Shurna can be that guy.

Ohio St. Buckeyes

Like every other college sports fan not from the state of Ohio, I can't stand Ohio State and their obnoxious fans and root for them to lose at every opportunity, but part of me was hoping Ohio State would win the national title last year so that Jared Sullinger would leave for the NBA and the rest of the Big Ten would have a chance at the conference title. Unfortunately, OSU got bounced in the Sweet Sixteen and Sullinger is putting off the NBA for at least another year and returning to Ohio State.

From a purely financial perspective, staying in school is a clear blunder by Sullinger. Had he entered this draft, he'd be a guaranteed top 5 pick and would therefore be guaranteed at least $3 million per year for the next 3 years (here's the rookie pay scale). While he's still probably a lottery pick next year, he can't really improve his draft stock, but he can definitely hurt it, due either to injury or an unexpected drop-off in his game. But ultimately it's his life, if he'd rather be the big man on campus and dominate the Big Ten again, more power to him.

Junior William Buford, also a potential first round pick, is staying at Ohio State as well. With another absurd recruiting class coming to Columbus, we might as well pencil in the Buckeyes for their third straight Big Ten title.

Penn St. Nittany Lions

No early entry NBA prospects

Purdue Boilermakers

No early entry NBA prospects

Wisconsin Badgers

Jordan Taylor probably would have been a 2nd round pick had he gone pro, but he'll be back for his senior year to crush the dreams of various Big Ten foes.