Things don’t always work as planned in college basketball and recruiting. You can plan out your scholarship chart perfectly, finding replacements for all your outgoing players, and feel comfortable about your program moving forward. Maybe you even make plans for when players transfer.
The one thing difficult to project is players leaving college earlier than expected for the NBA. It happened a couple of years ago with Tyler Ennis departing Syracuse after his freshman season; the Orange had planned for Kaleb Joseph to learn under Ennis for a year before taking the starting job, but that changed with Ennis leaving. Ohio State suffered the same fate last season with D’Angelo Russell, who starred in his first season in Columbus and ended up as the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. The Buckeyes had to go out in late January and bring in JaQuan Lyle, who has been up-and-down as a freshman.
There are several overperforming underclassmen this season, and not every team has a plan in place for a possible early-entry. We looked at non-seniors ranked in Chad Ford’s top 50 who weren’t originally expected to leave for the NBA when they first arrived on campus: