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Six NBA Draft Decisions That Will Affect the Big 12 Race in 2018



The face of what the Big 12 may look like in 2018 has shifted over the last few months with players, some surprising and some not, opting to forego eligibility to try their hand in the NBA (or overseas.)

Players like Yankuba Sima and Tavarius Shine were surprise departures, as neither project to be drafted. The decision of Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith to sign with an agent was a bit of a surprise too, though he now finds himself in the middle of the lottery conversation as a bonafide first-rounder.

With May the 30 deadline for early entrants to withdraw their name from the NBA Draft, who else may leave the league and shoot for the pros? Here is a look at the six major decisions that will affect the Big 12 race in 2018.

1. Sagaba Konate

West Virginia’s volleyball-spiking shot-blocker, Sagaba Konate, announced Thursday that he will return to school. Konate made a strong showing in pre-draft workouts for teams, but will instead buoy a nasty WVU frontline again in 2018 as West Virginia looks (again) to end Kansas’ Big 12 title streak.

That’s big news for the Mountaineers, who are also getting Esa Ahmad back for another season after he briefly declared.

2. Udoka Azubuike

Azubuike performed well at the NBA Draft Combine, but his measurables leave something to be desired — as does his lack of mobility. I’d be surprised if he kept his name in the draft, though he could probably be a second-rounder if he chose to sign with an agent and keep his name in the draft.

If he returns to KU, he’ll again be the starter to anchor Bill Self’s Kansas team that could very well open the season as the favorite to win it all.

3. Barry Brown

After taking down Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State suddenly has the look and feel of a darkhorse Big 12 contender in 2018 with Dean Wade returning. If Brown does the same (and I suspect he does), then the Cats will return their top nine (!!) scorers from last season. K-State is loaded. Brown coming back would make them even more so.

4. Eric Davis Jr.

Eric Davis Jr. has already ended his Texas career and signed with an agent, which he did shortly after a Yahoo Sports report detailed his involvement in accepting an improper payment. He was mostly a bit player for the Horns, averaging 8.8 points and 2.4 rebounds last season, but could’ve been slated for bigger minutes next season for Shaka Smart’s club.

5. Kerwin Roach

Roach is maybe (who am I kidding, definitely) the Big 12’s most rude dunker. His hops and athleticism are absolutely ridiculous. He averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists last season and improved his stock, but he wasn’t invited to the combine — a suggestion that he may not have a team inside the top-60 willing to draft him. If that’s the case, a return may be imminent.

6. Lindell Wigginton

Wigginton is maybe the biggest, most intriguing name of this list. He was Iowa State’s leading scorer as a freshman out of Oak Hill, and could have an All-Big 12 season if he returns as a sophomore. He averaged 16.7 points in 2017-18.

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