How gutted will Big Ten hoops be next year?

League lost a lot to NBA last year and didn't skip a beat

Published: April 3 2014 | 3:20 pm - Updated: 7 April 2014 | 3:09 pm in

It happens every year and the sky doesn't fall, but the Big Ten is about to lose a pretty fair amount of talent to early entries for the NBA draft.

As almost always is the case, this doesn't apply to Iowa.

First, it was Ohio State junior foward LaQuinton Ross giving up his senior season to go pro. He must have just wanted to be done with college, because he's a second-rounder at best.

Then, to no surprise, Indiana freshman center Noah Vonleh bade college ball farewell. He is a projected lottery pick.

Next, probably, will be Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris. He'll also be a likely lottery pick.

So, how many more? Will Michigan sophomore guard Nik Stauskas check out? He also could be a lottery selection.

And what about Wisconsin junior 7-footer Frank Kaminsky and sophomore foward Sam Dekker? Kaminsky has come from nowhere to look like an NBA prospect. Dekker may not be first-round material this season.

If you're talking Vonleh, Stauskas, Harris, Ross and Kaminsky, that's a haul. But last year the Big Ten lost early-entries Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., of Michigan, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller of Indiana and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State. They formed the coaches' first-team All-Big Ten squad. All but Thomas were first-rounders.

The Big Ten, to many, was the best league in the nation this year despite losing those five players. The talents come and go, and replacements are usually waiting.

What this year's Final Four once again emphasizes is you need future NBA players to win national-titles. All four teams that remain have at least someone like that. When I watched UConn beat Michigan State Sunday in New York and saw Shabazz Napier duel with Harris, you got a pretty clear idea of why those teams were still playing while almost everyone else was done.


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