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April 15, 2011

Who has been hurt most by early entries?

Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger's decision to stay in school for his sophomore year represented a shock on two levels.

For one thing, it's always a surprise when a likely lottery pick opts against entering the NBA draft. Sullinger, a rugged 6-foot-9 forward, almost certainly would have been selected among the top five or so picks.

But Sullinger's move was particularly noteworthy because he plays for Ohio State, a team that has been hurt by early entries to the draft as much as just about any program in the country over the past five years.

Rivals.com decided to measure which schools have been hit hardest by early entries since 2006, the first year student-athletes weren't allowed to enter the draft directly out of high school. We looked at all the early-entry lists from 2006-10 to see which schools lost the most underclassmen to the draft.

By the numbers
A quick look at the leagues most affected by early entrants since 2006, when the NBA outlawed players going directly from high school to the pros.
LeagueEarly entrantsLost seasons
Big 122851
Pac-10 2447
Big East 2437
SEC22 39
ACC21 39
C-USA 1527
Big Ten921
We did not include underclassmen who have entered the draft this year because the ones who haven't signed with an agent still might return to school.

We also wanted to see which programs had lost the most individual seasons to early entries. For instance, if a player left for the draft after his junior year, we counted it as one potential season lost. But if a player departed after his freshman year, we measured it as three seasons lost for the school.

Kentucky, Memphis and USC have had the most early entries with seven each, but Kentucky and Ohio State had the most seasons lost with 16. Ohio State has lost six underclassmen to the draft, and five of them were "one-and-done" players who turned pro after their freshman seasons.

Our research uncovered the following notable items:

While Ohio State has been hammered by early entries over the last five seasons, the Buckeyes' Big Ten rivals have been relatively unscathed. The rest of the Big Ten has produced just three early entries: Michigan State junior Shannon Brown in 2006, Indiana freshman Eric Gordon in 2008 and Michigan junior Manny Harris in 2010.

The Big 12 leads all conferences with 28 early entries totaling 51 lost seasons. It's followed by the Pac-10 (24 early entries, 47 seasons), the Big East (24-37), the SEC (22-39), the ACC (21-39), Conference USA (15-27) and the Big Ten (9-21).

Memphis had the most early entries of any program from outside the six major conferences, but UAB and Nevada aren't too far behind. UAB and Nevada each had four early entries over the past five drafts. Walter Sharpe was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft, but the other three UAB underclassmen to leave early (Reggie Huffman in 2008, Terrence Roderick in 2009 and Elijah Millsap in 2010) went undrafted. Nevada's early entries were first-round picks Luke Babbitt (2010) and JaVale McGee (2008) and second-round selections Armon Johnson (2010) and Ramon Sessions (2007).

None of the past three national champions appear on our list of teams hit hardest by early entries. North Carolina lost four underclassmen to the draft from 2006-10, but 2007 lottery pick Brandan Wright is the only one-and-done player from that group. The Tar Heels won the 2009 national title largely because Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green chose to stay in school rather than entering the draft after reaching the Final Four in 2008. Duke's only two early entries over the past five drafts are sophomore Josh McRoberts in 2007 and junior Gerald Henderson in 2009, though freshman Kyrie Irving will join that group this year. Connecticut has produced four early entries over the past five years, a group that featured four juniors and one sophomore. The Huskies would not have won the national title this season had Kemba Walker not stayed for his junior season. Walker has indicated he will turn pro rather than returning for his final year of eligibility.

Below is a list of 11 schools that have lost at least five players or 10 potential seasons because of early entries to the draft.

1. KENTUCKY
Number: 7 players
Seasons lost: 16
Players: Eric Bledsoe (2010, Fr.), DeMarcus Cousins (2010, Fr.), Jodie Meeks (2009, Jr.), Daniel Orton (2010, Fr.), Patrick Patterson (2010, Jr.), Rajon Rondo (2006, Soph.), John Wall (2010, Fr.)
Buzz: All five of the Kentucky players drafted in the first round last year were underclassmen. Four of those first-rounders were freshmen. Kentucky has a chance to "solidify" its No. 1 status this year if freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones follow Bledsoe, Cousins, Orton and Wall as one-and-done players. Wall was the No. 1 overall pick and Cousins also was a lottery selection last year. Bledsoe, Patterson, Orton and Rondo also were first-round picks. Meeks was selected in the second round.
2. MEMPHIS
Number: 7 players
Seasons lost: 15
Players: Chris Douglas-Roberts (2008, Jr.), Tyreke Evans (2009, Fr.), Derrick Rose (2008, Fr.), Shawn Taggart (2009, Jr.), Darius Washington (2006, Soph.), Elliot Williams (2010, Soph.), Shawne Williams (2006, Fr.)
Buzz: John Calipari insists he's not a fan of the one-and-done rule, but it's no coincidence he has coached each of the top two teams on this list. Calipari's ability to help freshman phenoms develop into NBA prospects caused Rose and Evans go the one-and-done route during his Memphis tenure. Taggart and Washington went undrafted and Douglas-Roberts was a second-round pick, but the other four Memphis early entries were first-round selections.
3. USC
Number: 7 players
Seasons lost: 13
Players: DeMar DeRozan (2009, Fr.), Taj Gibson (2009, Jr.), Daniel Hackett (2009, Jr.), Davon Jefferson (2008, Fr.), O.J. Mayo (2008, Fr.), Gabe Pruitt (2007, Jr.), Nick Young (2007, Jr.)
Buzz: Pruitt and Young left school early after helping USC advance to a regional final in 2007. DeRozan, Gibson and Hackett left amid an NCAA investigation that prevented the Trojans from being eligible for the postseason in 2010. DeRozan and Mayo were lottery picks, and Gibson and Young also were taken in the first round. Pruitt was a second-round selection, while Hackett and Jefferson were undrafted.
4. OHIO STATE
Number: 6 players
Seasons lost: 16
Players: Mike Conley (2007, Fr.), Daequan Cook (2007, Fr.), Kosta Koufos (2008, Fr.), B.J. Mullens (2009, Fr.), Greg Oden (2007, Fr.), Evan Turner (2010, Jr.)
Buzz: Because so many of Ohio State's players left after their freshman seasons, the Buckeyes have lost as many total seasons to the NBA draft as any program in the country. Conley, Cook and Oden left after leading Ohio State to an NCAA final in their lone season on campus. All six of Ohio State's early entries were first-round picks. Oden went first and Conley fourth overall in the 2007 NBA draft, while Turner was the No. 2 overall pick last year.
5. TEXAS
Number: 6 players
Seasons lost: 13
Players: LaMarcus Aldridge (2006, Soph.), D.J. Augustin (2008, Soph.), Avery Bradley (2010, Fr.), Kevin Durant (2007, Fr.), Daniel Gibson (2006, Soph.), P.J. Tucker (2006, Jr.)
Buzz: Aldridge, Augustin and Gibson left school after leading Texas to a regional final in 2006. Texas still got back to the tournament the following season with a freshman class that included Durant and Augustin, who also had abbreviated college careers. Durant, Aldridge and Augustin were lottery picks. Bradley also went in the first round, while Gibson and Tucker were taken in the second round.
6. UCLA
Number: 6 players
Seasons lost: 12
Players: Arron Afflalo (2007, Jr.), Jordan Farmar (2006, Soph.), Jrue Holiday (2009, Fr.), Kevin Love (2008, Fr.), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (2008, Jr.), Russell Westbrook (2008, Soph.)
Buzz: Early entries have caused UCLA's program to fall back to the pack after making three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006-08. It's tough to blame the players who decided to leave early. Holiday, Love and Westbrook were lottery picks, while Afflalo and Farmar also went in the first round. Mbah a Moute was a second-round pick who has worked his way into the Milwaukee Bucks' rotation. UCLA will lose two more early entries this year, as Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee have said they will hire agents and enter the draft.
7. KANSAS
Number: 6 players
Seasons lost: 10
Players: Cole Aldrich (2010, Jr.), Darrell Arthur (2008, Soph.), Mario Chalmers (2008, Jr.), Xavier Henry (2010, Fr.), Brandon Rush (2008, Jr.), Julian Wright (2007, Soph.)
Buzz: Although Kansas has dealt with plenty of early entries, most of them played multiple seasons before leaving. The only one-and-done on this list is Xavier Henry, though Josh Selby could join him this season. Arthur, Chalmers and Rush left early after helping Kansas win the 2008 national title. Aldrich, Henry and Wright were lottery picks. Arthur and Rush also went in the first round, while Chalmers was taken in the second round. Marcus and Markieff Morris will join the list of early entries from Kansas this year, and Selby also is expected to enter the draft.
8. FLORIDA
Number: 6 players
Seasons lost: 8
Players: Corey Brewer (2007, Jr.), Taurean Green (2007, Jr.), Al Horford (2007, Jr.), Joakim Noah (2007, Jr.), Marreese Speights (2008, Soph.), Nick Calathes (2009, Soph.).
Buzz: Florida's presence on this list is misleading, as the Gators won a second consecutive national title in 2007 largely because their top underclassmen opted against leaving early to enter the draft. Brewer, Green, Horford and Noah could have turned pro after leading Florida to the 2006 championship as sophomores. They instead chose to stay in school for one more year. Horford, Brewer and Noah were lottery picks, while Green went in the second round. Speights was a first-round pick the following year. Calathes left school after his sophomore season to sign with Panathinaikos, a Greek pro team.
9. SYRACUSE
Number: 5 players
Seasons lost: 8
Players: Donte Greene (2008, Fr.), Eric Devendorf (2009, Jr.), Jonny Flynn (2009, Soph.), Paul Harris (2009, Jr.), Wes Johnson (2010, Jr.)
Buzz: Perhaps one of the reasons the Big East has reigned as the nation's top conference for the past several years is because the league hasn't lost much of its top talent early. Syracuse is the only Big East program on this list, and its early entries have had mixed results in the draft. Flynn and Johnson were lottery picks, and Greene also was selected in the first round. But Harris and Devendorf weren't drafted at all.
10. GEORGIA TECH
Number: 4 players
Seasons lost: 10
Players: Javaris Crittenton (2007, Fr.), Derrick Favors (2010, Fr.), Gani Lawal (2010, Jr.), Thaddeus Young (2007, Fr.)
Buzz: Georgia Tech is the only team on this list that hasn't at least reached a regional semifinal in the past five years. Tech's series of one-and-done players prevented the Yellow Jackets from producing sustained success and indirectly may have contributed to the firing of former coach Paul Hewitt. Favors and Young were lottery picks after their freshman seasons, while Crittenton also went in the first round. Lawal stayed through his junior year and was drafted in the second round.
11. OKLAHOMA
Number: 4 players
Seasons lost: 10
Players: Blake Griffin (2009, Soph.), Tiny Gallon (2010, Fr.), Tommy Mason-Griffin (2010, Fr.), Willie Warren (2010, Soph.)
Buzz: Nobody can blame Griffin for choosing to turn pro after his sophomore year. Griffin was the top overall pick in the 2009 draft after winning the Naismith and Wooden awards as a sophomore. But what about the other guys on this list? Warren was a second-round pick after a so-so sophomore year, Gallon was a one-and-done who also went in the second round and Mason-Griffin went undrafted following his freshman season.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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