Yesterday was one of the biggest days in the college basketball world because it was the deadline to stay in the Draft or come back to school. It's usually a day that just sort of goes by and we don't get any surprises or real news. I mean, shit, we went like 13 years between NPOY's deciding to come back to school and now we have it happening in consecutive years. Guys aren't leaving just to chase a 2nd round pick or potential 2-way contract anymore. Sure, some guys don't want to be in college anymore and just be a pro. Some guys are fine with a guarantee 2-way contract and just stay in the Draft, I'll never blame a kid for making their own decision.
But college basketball is in a great spot. Because everyone who lost their shit about NIL and how it would only benefit the bluest of blue bloods forgot something. They forgot that you don't know how NIL really works and how much schools really have to offer or what people care about. Proof:
FAU is bringing back every single player (outside of Michael Forrest, who ran out of eligibility) from last year's 35-win and Final Four team. Florida Atlantic! They didn't lose their coach to a bigger job. They didn't have one player hit the transfer portal. They had two guys test out the NBA waters and decide to come back and not transfer. That's fucking awesome for the sport. I don't think they are top-5 in the preseason, a little crazy overreaction to the run, but top-15? Absolutely can talk me into that. They are one of the most fun teams to watch with the 4-out, 1-in offense around Goldin and having all these shooters.
I know people are still scared of NIL (mostly the olds), but it's helping the sport out. It's keeping players in college longer than they typically would have been. Look around the country - FAU, Edey, Bacot, Hunter Dickinson, Dillon Mitchell, Jaden Akins, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma, Terrence Shannon, Tristan da Silva, TJ Bamba, Anton Watson, Tristen Newton - those are all names that decided to skip the draft and stay in the sport. I know most of these names aren't first round picks, but they are what college basketball fans want in the game. Guys who are staying around for 3+ years.
Then there's the transfer portal. I know people still complain about this, but it's keeping the sport in the news which is a good thing. We also are going to get past the absurd numbers of people in the portal once the free COVID year runs out. There are more players than ever in the sport because of that free extra year and spots are still limited. That's the bigger reason for the 1,500+ people in the portal more than NIL.
All I know is college basketball is in a good spot. The ratings were up last year. Players are sticking around more. You don't know who is going to be great and the separation of blue bloods to low-majors never happened.