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Which Big Ten players will opt out of the 2017 NBA Draft?

Predicting which Big Ten early entrants will return to school

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

College underclassmen who have declared for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent have until May 24th to finalize their decision. Until that time, they can still decide to maintain their NCAA eligibility and withdraw their name from the draft. For the Big Ten, that means nine players must decide in the next 27 days whether to return to school or become professional basketball players.

Certainly, a lot of pressure.

Here is a closer look at which Big Ten underclassmen are likely to stay in the draft and which are likely to return to school.

Big Ten Early 2017 NBA Draft Entrants:

-James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana):

The 22 year old junior ranks as the 15th best Big Ten prospect, according to DraftExpress. He led the Hoosiers last season with 17.1 points per game, and was one of the best all around scorers in the conference.

Blackmon missed time during the season with leg and knee injuries, and is not projected as a first or second round draft pick in any mock drafts. While Blackmon will try to improve his standing at the NBA Draft Combine on May 9th, the only way he will receive a first round guaranteed contract is by returning to Indiana for his senior season.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Thomas Bryant (Indiana):

The good news is DraftExpress has Thomas Bryant listed as the fourth best Big Ten draft prospect. The bad news? He is a second round projection in all mock drafts. Bryant has the size at 6’10” 241 lbs, but failed to improve his offensive repertoire from his freshman season.

Bryant’s field goal percentage dropped from 68 percent as a freshman to 51 percent last season. With a high motor and strong work competitive nature, Bryant could absolutely be an early first round pick with one more year of development in college.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Vincent Edwards (Purdue):

As a late declaration in April, the overwhelming thought was that Edwards will return for his senior season. Purdue is coming off a Big Ten regular season championship, and head coach Matt Painter would get a huge boost if all three of his NBA draft declarations returned.

Edwards averaged 12.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season for the Boilermakers. Barring an incredible Combine, Edwards will be back at Purdue in the fall.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Isaac Haas (Purdue):

You can’t coach size, and Isaac Haas has a ton of it. Towering over the competition at 7’2” and 290 lbs, Haas has the most NBA ready frame of anyone on this list. The issue is that his skills don’t match that frame. Haas improved his scoring to this season to 12.6 ppg and shot 58.7 percent from the field.

He struggled mightily, however, with foul trouble and is not projected to be drafted in either round. Haas may generate some interest as a late second round pick for a team that needs size, but he could absolutely be a first round pick in 2018 if he returned to Purdue.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Robert Johnson (Indiana):

A good but not great Big Ten player. The 6’3” 190 lb junior guard averaged 12.8 ppg as a solid starter for Indiana. DraftExpress ranks Johnson as only the 47th best junior in the country, which does not bode well for his draft prospects.

Without a doubt, he should return for a year of growth with head coach Archie Miller, and thus improve his positioning for the 2018 draft.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Corey Sanders (Rutgers):

For the second straight year, Rutgers sophomore Corey Sanders has declared for the NBA Draft. There was a concern of Sanders going straight to Europe to play professionally, but now, that seems less likely.

Not projected to be selected on any mock drafts, Sanders is almost a lock to return to Rutgers. As an honorable mention Big Ten selection, all bets are for Sanders to return and have a big junior season in 2018.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-Caleb Swanigan (Purdue):

The Big Ten Player of the Year returned to Purdue last year after a poor showing at the 2016 NBA combine. That proved to be a spectacular decision as Swanigan improved his draft stock across the board. His scoring rose from 10.2 to 18.5 points per game, and his rebounding from 8.3 to 12.5 rpg. Swanigan’s free throw shooting rose to almost 80 percent, and he made a remarkable 44.7 percent from three point range.

This is tough call, but after a much improved combine, it will be impossible to keep Caleb Swanigan out of the first round. With the temptation of a guaranteed NBA contract, he won’t return to Purdue.

  • Projection: Will stay in draft

-Moritz Wagner (Michigan):

This is a tricky one. Wagner is a 6’11’ 240 lb sophomore forward from Germany that can make shots from long range. He shot 40 percent from three point range while scoring at a 56 percent rate overall. Wagner is a true 21st century NBA big man that can make jump shots and run the floor.

While Wagner is not currently projected to be drafted, he could move up the draft board quickly after the NBA combine. Head coach John Beilein is praying he returns, and unless he moves into the early second round those prayers should be answered.

  • Projection: Will return to school

-DJ Wilson (Michigan):

One of the most versatile big men in the draft, Wilson is projected as an early second round pick by DraftExpress. The Michigan sophomore improved throughout the year, and is a well-rounded scorer that could flourish at the NBA level.

As an 83 percent free throw shooter, Wilson hit clutch free throws throughout the NCAA tournament and led the Wolverines to an Elite Eight appearance. His length, perimeter skills, and defensive versatility have made him an attractive candidate for many NBA teams.

DJ Wilson could return to Michigan and be a first round pick in 2018, but the feeling here is that he will not be a Wolverine come September.

  • Projection: Will stay in draft