The Big Ten appears to be stacked after a wave of players exited the 2023 NBA Draft on Wednesday and opted to return to college.
The decisions mean the league likely has two preseason top-10 teams.
The headline announcement came from Purdue’s Zach Edey. The 7-foot-4 national player of the year is coming back to West Lafayette to defend Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles and avenge an embarrassing NCAA Tournament loss. The Boilermakers will try to run it back with mostly the same team from last season. They lost Brandon Newman and David Jenkins from their 2022-23 squad, but appear to have players coming in who can fill those roles.
Michigan State’s Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard also both announced they were returning next season. Those two decisions, with minimal losses and the Big Ten’s top recruiting class should mean the Spartans are right there with Purdue as a league favorite next seasons.
Illinois was another big winner on Wednesday after both Terrence Shannon and Coleman Hawkins decided to return to Champaign. The Fighting Illini are an elite primary ball handler away from becoming a third Big Ten team with top-10 or at least top-20 potential, and they are waiting for a decision by Toledo transfer point guard RayJ Dennis. UPDATE: Dennis committed to Baylor on Wednesday.
Also deciding to stay on Wednesday were Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga and Rutgers’ Cliff Omoruyi. It isn’t clear that either squad can be a league contender next year, but obviously both teams just got much more formidable. Rutgers’ Paul Mulcahy still had not made an announcement after the midnight deadline. UPDATE: Mulcahy withdrew his name from the draft as well.
Northwestern was the rare team who got some bad news. Guard Chase Audige has chosen to stay in the draft, a move that will likely result in the Wildcats taking a meaningful step down in the conference standings next season after a surprising second place finish. Audige was the league’s co-defensive player of the year.
Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing also both announced they were staying in the draft, although their decisions were widely expected.
Of course rosters are still not complete across the conference. Indiana and just about every other team with a roster opening is evaluating their options. The Hoosiers still have a chance to be in that top-tier of the league and a top-10 / top-20 type of team, especially if they can secure an efficient scorer at shooting guard.
But the options are dwindling fast.
For all of the roster updates across the Big Ten during the offseason, GO HERE: