All five Big Ten underclassmen who had declared for the NBA Draft but not hired an agent have decided to withdraw their names and return for the 2010-2011 college season:
- JaJuan Johnson and E`Twaun Moore will be back at Purdue.
- Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis will be back at Illinois.
- Talor Battle will be back at Penn State.
These decisions mean that 9 of the 15 players on the coaches' three 2010 all-Big Ten teams will return for the 2011 season (10 of 15 based on the media's picks). That includes four of the five first-team picks: McCamey, Moore, Kalin Lucas, and Robbie Hummel. The league loses only four departing seniors from the three all-league squads: DeShawn Sims, Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon, and Raymar Morgan. Digging a little deeper,
16 15 of the top 21 finishers in conference-only PORPAG will be back next season. [Edited: Forgot about Chris Babb transfer from PSU.]
Looking at Brent Yarina's very reasonable-looking power rankings, the top four teams on the list will have extremely solid starting lineups:
- Purdue will have what could very well be the top trio of stars in the country in Hummel, Johnson, and Moore--all three of them seniors--with a nice cast of younger players to fill in the other two slots (Jackson, Barlow, Byrd, Bade, three incoming freshmen).
- Lucas, Allen, Summers, Green, Roe. That's 61 games of NCAA Tournament experience. (That goes down to 58 games if you substitute Lucious for Allen.)
- Illinois will start three or four seniors (McCamey, Davis, Tisdale, Cole), with the two freshman guards from the past season (Richardson, Paul) filling in the remaining 1-2 starting pots and three four-star recruits joining the mix.
- Ohio State returns four-fifths of its iron man quintet (Buford, Diebler, Lighty, Lauderdale), with incoming five-star big men Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas adding low-post scoring punch.
(It goes without saying that Wisconsin, as always, will fully compensate for the loss of their senior leaders to infiltrate the ranks of the conference title contender. Note that two of the four graduating all-conference picks were Badgers. No matter.)
If the league's top players can stay health this time around, the chase for the 2011 Big Ten basketball crown could be even more exhilarating--and a good deal more satisfying--than the 2010 title scrum was.