Oklahoma could become the nation’s new No. 1 team when the polls are released early next week, if the Sooners win at Texas on Saturday night. Perhaps North Carolina will be the new No. 1. Or possibly Pittsburgh. But where would today’s top teams rank if early departures had decided to remain in college since 2006? The last year high school seniors were allowed to enter the NBA Draft was 2005. Since then, players must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduating class to be eligible. OU will soon experience life without standout sophomore Blake Griffin, who is expected to leave school after this season to become the school’s first-ever No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. There has been an undeniable shift in college basketball the past few seasons. The Thunder’s Kevin Durant has chewed up the NBA his first two years, especially this season at 25.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. We can only imagine what Durant would be doing to collegiate competition alongside his Texas teammate D.J. Augustin. Other notable early departures include Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute of UCLA, Mike Conley, Greg Oden and Daequan Cook of Ohio State, Derrick Rose of Memphis, O.J. Mayo of USC, Michael Beasley of Kansas State, plus Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright and Brandon Rush of Kansas. Had all these players remained in college, suffice to say the Sooners wouldn’t be on the cusp of No. 1. They wouldn’t be in the top 5. Up next for OU would be a game against Durant, Augustin and Co. in Austin, followed by a Big Monday game at home against Rush, Wright, Arthur, Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. And everyone would be headed to Oklahoma City in three weeks for the Big 12 Tournament. Wow. Wrap your head around that.
Bedlam Nation BLOG: Are the Sooners poised to be ranked No. 1? What if?
Here is the projected Top 5 this season had NBA draftees since 2006 remained in college: →1. Kansas: F-Julian Wright, F-Brandon Rush, F-Darrell Arthur, G-Mario Chalmers, G-Sherron Collins, C-Cole Aldrich. →2. UCLA: C-Kevin Love, G-Russell Westbrook, F-Luc Mbah a Moute, G-Darren Collison, F-Josh Shipp. →3. Ohio State: C-Greg Oden, G-Mike Conley, G-Daequan Cook, C-Kosta Koufos, F-Evan Turner. →4. Texas: F-Kevin Durant, G-D.J. Augustin, F-Damion James, G-A.J. Abrams, F-Gary Johnson. →5. Memphis: G-Derrick Rose, G-Chris Douglas-Roberts, F-Shawne Williams, F-Robert Dozier, G-Antonio Anderson; G-Tyreke Evans.