IU basketball: Several NBA Draft stay-or-go decisions will shape 2023-24 Big Ten race

In recent years IU fans had to sweat it out when it came to NBA Draft stay-or-go decisions by team stars.

There was the decision by Juwan Morgan prior to the 2018-19 season, and multiple springs when it wasn’t clear what Trayce Jackson-Davis would do.

This spring Indiana fans are still nervous about the roster of course, but it isn’t because of NBA Draft decisions.  Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino both have their names in, and both are locks to keep them in.  Hood-Schifino should hear his name called in the first round of the June draft, and Jackson-Davis seems certain to be selected, probably either in the late first round or early second round.

But the Big Ten race will still be shaped by multiple decisions that ostensibly have yet to be made.

The NBA Draft Combine begins next week, and players have received invites at this point.  For those left out of that event, and some perhaps not receiving the NBA team workouts they hoped for, the return to school announcements will start rolling in.

On Monday, Northwestern guard Boo Buie announced he is coming back to Evanston for a fifth season of college basketball.  The Wildcats are still waiting for a decision by his backcourt mate Chase Audige.  If both return Northwestern will be difficult to contend with once again.

Illinois has a pair of players evaluating their NBA prospects.  Both Terrence Shannon and Coleman Hawkins seem to be right on the stay-or-go line.  If they both came back and the Illini were able to land a point guard like Toledo’s RayJ Dennis, they’d easily catapult to the top-tier of the conference projections.

Michigan State point guard A.J. Hoggard is widely expected to return next year.  Things are less clear with Jaden Akins, who some thought could get drafted but he wasn’t invited to the NBA or G-League combines.  Akins shot above 40 percent from three and with him MSU looks like a league title contender.  He’ll be one to watch in the coming days.

Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga is the breakout player in the Big Ten no one is talking about.  Over his final 15 games, he averaged 17.2 points in league play and shot above 40 percent from three.  Nebraska improved along with him, and the Huskers will be a challenge to contend with once again if the Japanese sharpshooter returns to Lincoln.

Rutgers could be a contender again next year depending on a couple open decisions.  Paul Mulcahy is widely expected to return to college, but Cliff Omoruyi has a more interesting decision.  The Rutgers big man has had NBA team workouts and was invited to the G-League combine.

The decision by Purdue big man Zach Edey hovers over the entire league much like the Canadian center literally does on the court.  If you believe in riding momentum to the draft, no one has more than Edey, who went from 19 minutes a game to national player of the year.  Edey is no doubt evaluating his NBA potential, overseas potential, and college NIL earnings potential, among other factors.  The Boilermakers will be the favorite if he comes back, but they’d look very different without him.

It’s worth noting that all of these players could also still enter the transfer portal this week.  The portal stays open through Thursday, May 11.

Here are several more Big Ten players who are in the draft and widely expected to stay there and be selected in June, or otherwise are just not expected to return:

  • Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
  • Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
  • Jett Howard, Michigan
  • Seth Lundy, Penn State
  • Justice Sueing, Ohio State
  • Kris Murray, Iowa
  • Joey Hauser, Michigan State
  • Hakim Hart, Maryland (transferred to Villanova)

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