Skip to content

Stars returning to school means the ’13-’14 season is shaping up to be unreal

Apr 25, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT

Louisville Cardinals NCAA Basketball Celebration Getty Images

College basketball fans have become accustomed to the month of April consistently disappointing them.

Over the course of the month, we’ve learned, player after player will announce their intentions to forgo the rest of their collegiate eligibility and enter their name into the NBA Draft. All those hopes and dreams you had about your favorite team building a contender get crushed with one star’s decision to rush off to the NBA.

This April, however, has been quite the opposite.

Instead of watching a mad dash of draft prospects head for the NBA to try and take advantage of a weak draft and a potentially guaranteed contract that comes with being a first round pick, some of the nation’s biggest stars have headed back to school.

And their return has laid the groundwork for what should end up being a thrilling season of hoops.

On Thursday afternoon, the most decorated returnee made his decision, as two-time first-team All-American Doug McDermott announced that he would be coming back to Creighton for his senior season. This sets up all kind of intrigue for Bluejay fans, as they will have arguably the greatest player in school history back to lead the program into a new era. McDermott, who will be chasing down 3,000 career points, is the favorite for the new Big East’s Preseason Player of the Year award, and will have a chance to showcase his skills against the likes of Georgetown, Marquette and Butler and in cities like NYC, DC and Philly. That’s a bit of a difference from the road trips to and from Springfield, MO, and Evansville, IN.

McDermott’s decision came a day after Russ Smith and CJ Fair announced that they will be spending their senior seasons at Louisville and Syracuse, respectively.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Smith’s return makes Louisville a legitimate contender to win back-to-back national titles, as he not only was the KenPom National Player of the Year — which should give you a sense of his value to that Louisville team — but also the most entertaining player in the country, both on and off the court. It also sets up just an ideal situation in the Commonwealth. Kentucky and Louisville could end up being the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, two bitter, intrastate rivals that have accounted for the last two national championships. Oh, and should I mention that Kentucky brought back Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress to join their loaded recruiting class?

Anyone got an extra ticket for their annual matchup?

The irony? Kentucky isn’t a lock to win the SEC, not when Florida brings in a loaded recruiting class and returns Patric Young, giving them arguably the best front line in the country.

While Smith brings the Russdiculousness, Fair may be his polar opposite. Often overlooked, Fair’s return was the single most important part of this offseason for Syracuse. A perfect fit athletically for the Orange’s 2-3 zone, Fair was also their leading scorer and rebounder a season ago, as well as a forward that was able to score on the perimeter. Syracuse will have a ton of length and athleticism once again, but Fair is the only front court player that can help spread the floor.

His return will make the Orange, in all likelihood, a top ten team and a contender in the ACC.

Yup, Syracuse is going to be in the ACC next season. Almost forgot that, didn’t you? That means that the Orange will be battling with Duke, who will be a top five team next season, and North Carolina, who will also be a top ten-ish team, for ACC bragging rights. The reason that UNC is going to be so good next season? Not only did they get James Michael McAdoo back for his junior campaign, leading scorer PJ Hairston made the decision to return to school as well.

That three-way battle for ACC supremacy is going to be quite entertaining even if you don’t like ACC hoops.

Duke-UNC and Louisville-UK won’t be the only rivalries that will continue to flourish in 2013-2014. Michigan may have lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA, but with the announcement that both Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary will be back for their sophomore seasons, the Wolverines will have enough talent to compete for the Big Ten title. The favorite in the league? Michigan State, especially after Gary Harris announced that he’ll be back for his sophomore campaign. And if Adreian Payne returns as well? We may just need to clear some space in the top three for the Spartans.

But easily the biggest surprise when it comes to players returning to school was Marcus Smart. A projected top three pick, Smart announced earlier this month that he simply wasn’t ready to give up being a kid and become a professional. “I know how much money I’m giving up,” he said, which is great news for Oklahoma State fans, as they suddenly jump into the top spot in the preseason Big 12 standings.

Above Kansas.

Who has won at least a share of the last nine Big 12 regular season title.

And that may end up being the most run league race to follow along with this season. Can Oklahoma State, a team coached by Travis Ford, end up being the one that ends the Jayhawk streak?

If that’s not enough, Joe Jackson, Jordan McRae, Sean Kilpatrick and Jahii Carson will all be back next season as well.

And you thought last season was fun.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Former George Mason forward Anali Okoloji headed to Eastern Michigan

    Apr 21, 2014, 12:09 AM EDT

    Anali Okoloji, Matt Thomas AP

    In need of some bodies in the front court, Eastern Michigan has reportedly added one in the form of George Mason transfer Anali Okoloji.

  2. 2015 shooting guard Camron Justice verbally commits to Vanderbilt

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:43 PM EDT

    Rob Cross, Kevin Stallings AP

    Late Sunday Vanderbilt landed its first commitment in the 2015 class, with shooting guard Camron Justice announcing his pledge via Twitter.

  3. USF loses two more as guards Javontae Hawkins, Musa Abdul-Aleem decide to transfer

    Apr 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT

    Michael Dixon, Jr., Javontae Hawkins AP

    USF lost two more players Saturday as guards Javontae Hawkins and Musa Abdul-Aleem decided to transfer.

  4. UConn guard Ryan Boatright still undecided on 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 20, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT

    Ryan Boatright AP

    UConn guard Ryan Boatright is still weighing whether or not to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  5. Marquette’s Davante Gardner named MVP of Portsmouth Invitational (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    Davante Gardner, Sandi Marcius AP

    The 62nd annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament wrapped up Saturday night, with former Marquette big man Davante Gardner winning MVP honors.

  6. Houston adds second junior college recruit in guard Eric Weary

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwexmja4zju3njzknzg5mziznzyxotuyytg3otu5yjzj AP

    Houston landed a second junior college transfer Sunday, with Howard College product Eric Weary announcing his decision to commit to the program.

  7. Syracuse graduate assistant Nick Resavy at it again with trick shots (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

    Syracuse Athletics Department Syracuse Athletics Department

    More than three years later, Nick Resavy is still making ridiculous shots.

  8. Aquille Carr has declared for the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 20, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The electrifying point guard has put his name into the NBA draft.

  9. Harrison twins awaiting feedback from NBA before deciding to return or declare

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Harrison twins are halfway through deciding on returning to Lexington or declaring for the NBA draft.

  10. Alabama lands commitment from 2014 small forward Jeff Garrett

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Garrett becomes the fourth member of the Crimson Tide’s incoming class.

  11. Former NC State commit Torian Graham signs with Houston

    Apr 20, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The Cougars landed a former top 100 recruit on Sunday morning.

  12. Report: Former Marshall guard Kareem Canty still weighing transfer options

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Kareem Canty AP

    Just over a week after his appeal to be released from his scholarship at Marshall was granted, Kareem Canty’s decided to transfer to Auburn.

  13. Jordan Brand Classic highlights (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Watch the incoming class showcase their talents in Brooklyn on Friday night.

  14. Report: Louisiana Tech’s Michael White prime candidate for Tennessee vacancy

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:58 AM EDT

    Michael White AP

    According to a report, Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is the focus of Tennessee’s search for a new head coach.

  15. Kentucky fan follows through on promise to get tattoo honoring Willie Cauley-Stein

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    A Kentucky fan promised to get a tattoo of Willie Cauley-Stein if the 7-footer returned to Lexington for his junior season. Saturday, Michael Gray followed through.

  16. 2014 shooting guard Patrick McCaw commits to UNLV

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:36 PM EDT

    Dave Rice AP

    UNLV has added another player to its 2014 recruiting class, as shooting guard Patrick McCaw verbally committed to the Mountain West program.

  17. Arizona State lands former UNLV forward Savon Goodman

    Apr 19, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Savon Goodman, Brandon Spearman AP

    Arizona State has made another addition to its roster, landing a commitment from former UNLV forward Savon Goodman.

  18. USF forward Zach LeDay announces decision to transfer

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Zach Leday, Shaquille Thomas AP

    Forward Zach LeDay has decided to leave the USF program after spending two seasons in Tampa.

  19. Florida A&M fires head coach Clemon Johnson after three seasons

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida A&M v Florida Gulf Coast Getty Images

    New Florida A&M AD Kellen Winslow Sr. has already decided that the basketball program needs a new leader, as head coach Clemon Johnson was relieved of his duties Friday.

  20. Will Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally suit up for Texas A&M?

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    CBE Hall Of Fame Classic Getty Images

    Will highly-touted Colombian center Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally be joining the Texas A&M program?

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'