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June 21, 2006First, we asked our staff of college basketball writers to pretend that nobody would leave early for the NBA draft. Next, they pretended that everyone who entered the draft would leave school for good. Finally, we just went with the truth.
The early entry withdrawal deadline passed on Sunday night, sending a handful of players to pull their names out of the draft and leading us to put together another preseason poll, but based on reality this time. For the first time, our voters didn't have to guess what players each team would have (barring a few recruits who are still trying to get academically eligible).
The voters all faced one big question: Just how much of a difference can one player choosing to stay in school make on a team? If the player is Aaron Gray and the school is Pittsburgh the answer is a tremendous one.
Thanks to Gray's decision to pull out of the draft on deadline day the Panthers jumped from No. 16 to No. 7. Gray emerged as one of the best big men in the Big East and many felt he was the piece that could lead the Panthers on a deep postseason run.
The biggest jump belonged to NCAA runner-up UCLA, which moved up ten spots, going from No. 22 to No. 12 thanks to guard Arron Afflalo's decision to stay in school.
How was everyone else affected? Check out the complete poll below.
Others receiving votes: Michigan (12), Gonzaga (5), Florida State (4), Hofstra (4), Marquette (5), Nevada (4), South Carolina (3).