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The biggest winners of the 2023 NBA Draft deadline - and what it means for college hoops

The NBA Draft deadline was late Wednesday night, and for those who missed it - it was a huge night for college hoops.

So, who's coming back and what does it mean for the sport?

Lets take a look at Wednesday's winners and losers.

Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton: It was a busy week for Bluejay nation, starting on Monday when Kalkbrenner elected to return. He averaged 15.9 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game last season and he is the reigning two-time Big East defensive player of the year. Kalkbrenner will anchor a Creighton team that should battle for the top spot in the Big East. Creighton brought wing Baylor Scheierman back and brought in Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth. This will be Greg McDermont’s most talented team. He can get Creighton over the hump.

Trey Alexander Creighton: We talked about his teammate Ryan Kalkbrenner now let’s discuss Trey Alexander. To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for Alexander to come back. Alexander was a borderline top 30 pick and was surefire to be taken in the second round. Creighton lost point guard Ryan Nembhard and wing Arthur Kaluma, but with Alexander back - and the addition of Ashworth - this backourt is again stabilized. Creighton now has three elite shooters on the outside. Alexander is a guy who can create his own shot. Losing Alexander would have been a tremendous blow. The core of Ashworth, Scheierman, Kalkbrenner, and Alexander is worthy of being a top 10 roster. Creighton went from being a Big East conference contender to National Championship caliber.

Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, Florida Atlantic: The two combo guards were the catalyst that propelled the Owls on a magical Final Four run last season. The pair both averaged 13 points per game. The return of the guard duo makes FAU the favorite in the American conference next year. They are certainly a top 15 roster. They will be one of the most intriguing teams to watch next season. We haven’t seen a mid-major team with lofty expectations since the 2018-2019 Nevada roster coached by Eric Musselman that debuted in the top 10 in the preseason polls. FAU is going to get a similar type of love. Based on last season’s NCAA tournament performance, FAU has the character to back the hype.

Zach Edey, Purdue: The 7-4 center from Purdue will come back to college basketball and will be the face of the sport next year. He dominated the sport winning National Player of the Year honors last season. Edey averaged over 22 points and 13 rebounds per game. Purdue embarrassed themselves in the NCAA Tournament becoming the second No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the first round. The last team that suffered the same embarrassing loss, the 2019 Virginia Cavaliers, ran it back and won the title in 2019. Edey has a chance to lead Purdue to that same redemption story. Edey will have to work on his weakness of defending smaller athletic players in space. He will still be a dominant force on the offensive end. The growth of Purdue’s young guards will get him more opportunities in the post and help spread the floor out to him. Purdue is the Big Ten favorite with Edey back and a true national title contender.

Tyler Burton, Richmond (will transfer to Villanova): We have double breaking news here, as the 6'7 Burton will return to college basketball - but transfer to Villanova. Burton averaged 19 points per game and averaged 7.4 rebounds at Richmond last year. He is a big wing that can create mismatches. He didn’t have a lot of help at Richmond the last two seasons. He is joining a talented Villanova squad that brings back key cogs in Eric Dixon, Justin Moore, and Mark Armstrong while adding transfers Lance Ware and TJ Bamba. The edition of the Wildcats reminds me of when Jay Wright brought in Eric Paschall. He gives the Wildcats a big body for a team that struggled with rebounding last season and a guy who can score inside. This gives Villanova enough power to be a true Big East contender and a top 25 team heading into next season.

Lamont Butler, San Diego State: There weren't many questions whether Butler was going to come back to college basketball but the fact he stayed at San Diego State is a huge statement. Butler averaged just 8.8 points per game but his impact on the game goes farther along than the box score. Butler earned Mountain West defensive player of the year honors. He was offered six figures NIL deals from other power conference schools according to San Diego State beat writer Mark Zeigler. The Aztecs are the Mountain West favorites and are a clear preseason top 25 squad.

Adem Bona, UCLA: After losing Amari Bailey and Jaylen Clark to the NBA draft, UCLA got bright news hearing Bona will be coming back for another season. Bona was projected to be a second round pick and he will be one of the best rim protectors in the sport. UCLA’s identity will be on the defensive side of the ball once again. If Bona develops a complete offensive game he can move into the first round next year. Bona gives UCLA some type of upside. They went from a team that was going to battle to make the NCAA tournament to a squad that has a second weekend upside if everything goes right.

Nigel Pack and Norchad Omier, Miami: I don’t think anyone projected these two to leave, but it's still nice for the Hurricanes to get them back. The Hurricanes lose stalwarts Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, but Pack and Omier have the talent to carry the roster to another final four appearance. Pack will be one of the most explosive scorers in the sport. Omier is one of the best offensive rebounders in the country. The addition of Florida State transfer Matthews Cleveland will help. Watching college basketball at Miami should be fun for another year.

Coleman Hawkins & Terrance Shannon, Illinois: Huge news for Illinois. Shannon coming back brings toughness and leadership and socring. He also had without a doubt the best Twitter graphic announcing his return. Shannon gets to lead Illinois to another NCAA tournament berth and show why he is one of the best two way wings in the sport.

Hawkins always seemed to have the NBA body and skill set. He is tall and long and big who can shoot. Hawkins has gradually improved every year at Illinois. He averaged 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. I think he can sort of blow up this next season. Behind Edey, he is the most talented center in the Big Ten. Illinois was a team that lacked consistency last year. Their upside matches up with just about anyone. Another year with their core together can produce a magical year in Champagne.

Judah Mintz, Syracuse: As a freshman for the Orange, Mintz averaged 33.3 minutes, 16.3 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.4 turnovers per game, connecting on 44.3 percent from the field, 75.1 percent from the free-throw line and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Orange went 17-15 and missed the NCAA tournament. Mintz returning gives new Orange coach Adrian Audry something to build around. Syracuse has a young but talented squad. Audry brought in three transfers who were all heralded recruits as freshmen in Notre Dame’s JJ Starling, Auburn’s Chance Westry and Kansas’ Kyle Cuffe Jr. The Syracuse basketball program has needed an injection of life for sometime. Mintz can have an explosive sophomore campaign that brings new excitement to Syracuse basketball.

Rayshon Harrison, Grand Canyon: Harrison led GCU to their second NCAA tournament berth in school history this past year. He had two 30-point performances in the WAC tournament last year. The Lopes also bring back last season's WAC preseason player of the year Jovan Blacksher. They add a bunch of talented transfers from power conference schools. Harrison could have easily transferred to a better program or gotten a shot in the G League. Instead, Harrison returning makes Grand Canyon one of the more intriguing mid-majors heading into next season.

Devo Davis, Arkansas: Can anyone stop the big pig invasion? I would not want to get in front of the Muss Bus this season. Bringing Davis back was the cherry on top to a productive off season for Musselman. Arkansas brings back Trevon Brazile who looked like an All-SEC first team member before his injury. Muss also brings in the most loaded transfer class in the sport with El Ellis coming from Louisville, Khalif Battle from Temple, Kenyon Menefield from Washington, and Tramon Mark from Houston. That’s a lot of mouths to feed but Muss always finds a way to make it work. Davis will be a core part of the offense, and as importantly, their defense once again. He could leave Arkansas a legend, if the Hogs can take one step further and make the school's first Final Four since 1995.

Dillon Mitchell, Texas: Rodney Terry needed some good news. He lost Ron Holland to the G-League, Arterio Morris to Kansas, and several other recruits. Getting Mitchell back is a huge win. Mitchell signed with Texas as a five-star prospect in the class of 2023. His high-end athletic ability showed up at various times throughout the Longhorns’ run to the Elite Eight. Mitchell averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in limited minutes in just 16 contests. He will be relied on heavily for the Longhorns this season. Mitchell and senior Dylan Disu will make a formidable front court duo. Mitchell’s return makes Texas a player in the Big 12. Essentially ensures the Longhorns will not collapse in Terry’s first full season as the head coach.

Daron Holmes, Dayton: Anthony Grant needed a break. In 2020, Dayton had its best player in school history in Obi Toppin. Because of Covid, we never got to see him play in the tournament. Dayton fell short in the A-10 championship game last season despite having a double digit lead in the second half. Holmes averaged 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds on nearly 60 percent shooting last season. He would have been picked near the back end of the second round. Holmes has a chance to make a statement and get Dayton back in the NCAA tournament in his third season. The Flyers should be the A-10 favorites with his return.

Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive


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