Like all pro sports, the pre-draft talk is agonizingly-long and the event itself seldom lives up to the hype. But, the decisions made by some soon-to-be millionaires eventually trickle down to God's country...Outside of two guys who will have their names called by Commissioner Stern, here are a few others that affected Purdue:
-Minnesota looked like it might not resemble its team from'10 at all about one month and one-half ago. Tubby was rumored to be a candidate for a few jobs, Iverson was set to transfer, Mbakwe looked to be a potential NBA prospect and Sampson was all but out the door toward the NBA.
But a few weeks went by and things started to settle. Mbakwe and Sampson both decided to stay, Tubby the same, but Iverson is heading to Colorado State. Everybody in the league also hopes Smith will be back healthy in the late fall after a bout with prostate cancer...and everything looks very good for the coach at this point.
-Michigan was a team I had near the top of the conference for next season with all their moving parts returning...But, with Morris now heading to the NBA, my perspective changes a bit. He helped Hardaway and others look very good down the stretch and was tremendous on the offensive side, especially in the first half of the season in '11.
-Illinois lost almost their entire starting five from '11 after Jereme Richmond decided to go to the NBA. My favorite part of his story is that he decided to finally pursue his lifelong dream of playing of pay...after one long season in Champagne...and clearly accomplishing all he could for the Illini while averaging 7.6/gm. Nice work, yo.
-More shocking than Richmond's decision to leave was who didn't, in my opinion. After saying he would return for another season following the Bucknuts' departure from the tourney, Sullinger has not wavered and will be back to terrorize opposing frontcourts in '12. The more I read & hear about Sullinger, the more I lean toward liking the kid...but on the court, he still comes off as a tool.
On top of #0 deciding to stay, Buford will be back...which is nuts, to me. I've been impressed with Buford since he arrived on campus and have always thought his game, length and skillset were perfect for the NBA.
Outside of the conference, a few of Purdue's early season foes were affected by who'd stay and who would go.
-When the Boilers go to Puerto Rico, two of their potential foes (Maryland and Colorado) will have a much different look, but Maryland will be without Gary Williams for the first time in 22 years, following his retirement.
-In Indianapolis, Purdue will face a Butler team that loses (arguably) the best Bulldog ever as Matt Howard graduates and attempts to defy the odds again at the next level and Shelvin Mack leaves early...After last year, I'd have told both to leave along with Heyward...after this past season, same thing. Who knows...maybe Butler will end their season in New Orleans? Regardless of how their season ends, it'll probably start off slow for them...but we've seen that before.
-On the flip side, Xavier guard, Tu Holloway and WVU forward, Kevin Jones will return for their Senior seasons...Both will be tough match-ups for Matty's squad. (Special note: Purdue will get to see Jeff Robinson who ended up at Xavier after not being able to attend Purdue due to grades...Robinson played pretty well down the stretch for X last season.)