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Purdue's season will hinge on E'Twaun Moore's NBA draft decision.
And then there were 40.
Butler sophomore Gordon Hayward became the latest underclassmen to stay in the NBA draft, which leaves roughly 20 players who may seriously consider staying in. Eighty initially declared, but two have withdrawn and at least 15-20 are good bets to do so as well. (See the complete list here.)
There's not much time left to decide, either. Saturday's deadline is approaching fast. (The choices are difficult given that most NBA teams aren't holding workouts.)
Now Butler knows its 2010-11 season will be a little bit tougher, but what other teams are also eagerly awaiting decisions from players? Glad you asked.
Here are the most notable schools that will be affected by decisions yet to come.
Still deciding: guard E'Twaun Moore, center JaJuan Johnson.
What's at stake: A national title.
The Boilermakers will be on the shortlist of contenders if Moore and Johnson return. Yes, Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant are gone, but Robbie Hummel returns from injury and Matt Painter's ready to give guys like Lewis Jackson, John Hart and Kelsey Barlow more prominent roles. But it hinges on Moore and Johnson in West Lafeyette.
Still deciding: forward Mike Davis, point guard Demetri McCamey.
What's at stake: A Top-3 Big Ten finish, the Elite Eight.
It's shaping up to be a brutal Big Ten race. Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State will garner most of the attention, but if McCamey and Davis both return (as expected) don't ignore Illinois. Bruce Weber also landed a Top 15 recruiting class, though he'll need McCamey to run the show.
Still deciding: point guard Jimmer Fredette.
What's at stake: A conference title and a Top 4 NCAA tourney seed
Fredette, a national player of the year candidate, has worked out for two NBA teams, with two more workouts remaining. Expect him back in school to help the Cougars compete in the loaded Mountain West and possibly a sweet seed in the Big Dance.
Still deciding: forward Darington Hobson.
What's at stake: A second straight MWC title
It's 50/50 if the reigning conference player of the year returns. Hobson's skills would be impossible for Steve Alford to replace, to say nothing of his leadership and knack for big plays. If he returns, the Lobos are NCAA bound again. Without him, they're headed for the NIT.
Still deciding: guard Jordan Crawford.
What's at stake: A reliable scoring presence for a Top 15 team
Crawford will probably stay in, which must torment Musketeers coach Chris Mack and their fans. Xavier would be in prime position to mimic Butler's 2010 run next season, but having someone with Crawford ability is key.
Still deciding: guard Malcolm Delaney.
What's at stake: Silencing critics and challenging Duke
A 23-8 record wasn't good enough for the NCAA tournament seeding committee. If Delaney returns to a senior-laden team, the Hokies are not only a good bet to return to the tournament, they could make a serious run at the ACC regular-season crown.
Still deciding: forward Kenneth Faried.
What's at stake: A spot in the Big Dance
Faried's an elite shot blocker and rebounder – but doesn't have NBA size. At 6-8, he's shorter than NBA teams would like, which makes him a good bet to return to school and help Morehead State compete with Murray State for the Ohio Valley crown.
Still deciding: guard Dee Bost, guard Ravern Johnson.
What's at stake: Someone to stretch the defense for Renardo Sidney
Bost and Johnson will likely be back in Starkville, but they'll be just one aspect of the Bulldogs' season. The biggest key to an NCAA berth is Sidney, who missed his entire freshman season due to eligibility issues. With him in the post, Bost has an easier time running the point and Johnson has an easier time stretching the defense.
Still deciding: guard Jeremy Hazell, forward Jeff Robinson.
What's at stake: Continuity
New coach Kevin Willard would love to have Hazell, the team's leading scorer, and Robinson, an underrated swingman, back in the fold, to say nothing of having a healthy Herb Pope. Twenty victories may actually be attainable.
UPDATE: Not long after posting this, both reportedly decided to return to school.
Still deciding: forward Alex Tyus.
What's at stake: Front court depth
The Gators would survive without Tyus, but a more reliable rebounder and interior scorer than anyone else Billy Donovan has on the bench.
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