2022 NBA Draft: Seven players facing tough stay-or-go decisions before the NCAA deadline to withdraw Wednesday

Following weeks of pre-draft preparation for 2022 NBA prospects — including private workouts, G League Elite camp and the NBA Draft Combine — underclassmen in the draft are now met with the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline fast approaching on Wednesday at 11:59 pm ET. It’s expected to be busy on the decision front as on-the-fence players make their final decisions.

We’ve already seen some major names come off the board and decide to either return to school or stay in the draft and more are coming soon. Stanford wing Harrison Ingram, a projected first-rounder, is one such name that surprised some, announcing last week he was withdrawing from the draft and returning as a sophomore to Stanford in 2022-23. Louisiana Tech big man Kenny Lofton Jr. gave us another stunner in a different direction, as the 19-year-old big who was also in the transfer portal fully committed to staying in the draft after strong showings at the G League Elite Camp and then the Draft Combine.

Still, there are plenty of consequential decisions lurking out there likely to come in a matter of hours or days. The NBA has its own separate withdrawal deadline for early entrants that is slated for June 13 at 5 pm ET, but in year’s past almost every underclassmen has decided at or before the NCAA’s own deadline — which means the next few days could be especially noisy .

As we stare down the deadline, here are seven prospects who have yet to decide their stay-or-go fate facing very tough decisions.

Caleb Houston, Moussa Diabate (Michigan)

Diabate’s Decision: Remaining in NBA Draft | Houston’s decision: TBD

There’s been buzz for weeks that Houston may be leaning in one particular direction here after he declined an invite to the NBA Draft Combine, with rumors rocking around that he may have a promise late in the first round. For someone who probably needed a strong Combine to really move up boards, the rumors certainly make a lot of sense.

But Houstan has not hinted one way or another about his decision, even if his maneuvering around the Combine leads one to speculate in one direction. For Michigan, it’s probably fool’s gold to put too much stock into anything at this point, but history suggests the little things he’s been doing will lead one way or another to him remaining in the draft.

Diabate is another Michigan player with a very challenging choice here who ultimately opted to keep his name in the draft. With big man Hunter Dickinson returning, this always seemed in play, and having a strong last few weeks during the pre-draft process likely made the decision easier for him. He could be a late first or early second rounder.

Kris Murray (Iowa)

decision: Returning to school

Murray was one of two combine invites who declined to attend — along with the aforementioned Houstan — with speculation stemming from that decision swarming that he may be returning to Iowa.

That speculation ended Wednesday as he announced his plans to return to Iowa for a junior season.

“These past two months have been a tremendous learning process for me,” he said. “By going through the NBA draft process, I believe it will help me in the long run and this coming season in Iowa.”

Murray had a solid sophomore season with the Hawkeyes this past season emerging from a bit player to a rotation player and has physical tools and game to eventually be considered a first-rounder. But returning to school always seemed like the best, most obvious decision for him. One more season in college could allow him to prove to NBA teams his value in an expanded role, which he’ll likely get with brother Keegan leaving for a likely spot in this year’s lottery.

Julian Strawther, Drew Timme (Gonzaga)

Strawther’s decision: Returning to school | Timme’s decision: TBD

Gonzaga is losing Chet Holmgren but got a big retention win Wednesday when guard Julian Strawther announced on social media his plans to return to Spokane next season. Strawther was the player between he and teammate Drew Timme who had the biggest decision to make given his prospects as a potential first-round selection. After averaging nearly 12 points and shooting 36.5% from 3-point range he profiled as a potential NBA role player. Coming back to school will likely have him as a projected first-rounder for 2023.

Now we await Timme’s decision. He’s arguably the most recognizable name in college hoops should he return next season, which in itself has plenty of appeal as players cash in on NIL deals. Timme isn’t a top-60 player in our rankings, but he’s proven just about everything he can at the college level. Turning pro would make sense for him, but so, too, would running it back one more season for a contending Gonzaga team as he chases a title.

Trevor Keels (Duke)

Stay, become the potential No. 1 option for a top-10 team while developing into a potential lottery pick. Or leave and settle for being picked somewhere between 25 and 40. There lies the battle Keels is probably weighing right now. He could go from role player to star for Duke and first-year head coach Jon Scheyer but could also stay in the draft and possibly get selected late in the first round.

I’ve made the case previously that returning to school is probably best for Keels, who could in an expanded role showcase his versatile game and take his talents to the NBA in a 2023 draft where he may be a top-20 lock. But there’s not really a clear choice here between the two. With Duke enrolling four five-stars and reportedly in the mix to land star transfer AJ Green, the appeal to possibly be a first-rounder is a tough one to pass on.

Dalen Terry (Arizona)

decision: Remaining in NBA Draft

what it means: The draft range on Arizona’s Dalen Terry is increasingly one of the more tougher-to-pin than almost any prospect in this draft. He could be a top-20 pick, he could go outside the top 40 and neither would surprise me. Either way, he announced on Tuesday he is forgoing his remaining college eligibility and staying in the draft.

Terry was great in his role with the Wildcats last season as a role player who rebounded, nailed 3-pointers and carried a small burden as a playmaker. But Arizona was loaded last season. The production we saw was overall pretty limited, even if it made 37 starts in 37 games. (That’s what can happen when you play next to two potential first-rounders.) Nonetheless, teams are going to be falling over themselves hoping to take a shot on a young wing who can make shots and still have tones of untapped potential.

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