A bevy of highly regarded players have decided the NBA can wait, opting to return for the 2011-12 college basketball season. These are the most notable names. Harrison Barnes came on strong late in his freshman season, averaging 21.5 points in the last 10 games, including a career-high 40 against Clemson in the ACC tournament. The Tar Heels forward led UNC to the Elite Eight as a freshman, and his return makes the club the likely preseason No. 1 team in the nation.
2 of 16Fred Vuich/SI
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The National Freshman of the Year averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in leading Ohio State to the Big Ten title. But after the nation's No.1 team lost to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, Sullinger vowed to return, making the Buckeyes a true contender again next year.
3 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Perry Jones, Baylor
Expected to be the Bears' first one-and-done player, Jones surprised many when he bypassed a likely top-10 selection to return to school. After averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds during the season, Jones was suspended for the Big 12 Tournament opener (which his team lost) and the first five games of next season for accepting improper benefits before enrolling at Baylor.
4 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
The North Carolina big man's productivity has increased each season, and his play during the NCAA tournament gives UNC reason to expect another jump. Zeller scored more than 20 points in each of the Tar Heels' tournament games to help the team reach the Elite Eight.
5 of 16Bob Rosato/SI
John Henson, North Carolina
The athletic forward averaged a double-double (11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds) and emerged as the team's top interior defender. The Tar Heels led the nation with 42.5 rebounds per game in 2010-11 and should be high on the leaderboard again with the return of one of the nation's top frontcourts.
6 of 16Lou Capozzola/SI
Will Barton, Memphis
The dynamic guard didn't always live up to the hype that accompanied his arrival, and after leading the Tigers with 12.3 points per game, he announced on Twitter that he'd be back. Memphis lost a first-round heartbreaker to Arizona this season but could make a deeper run if Barton grows into his role as leading man.
7 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
JaMychal Green, Alabama
The Crimson Tide started 4-5 and Green missed three games after a run-in with coach Anthony Grant. After Green's return, the team ripped off 20 wins in its final 26 games and reached the NIT final. With Green's 15.5 points per game back, Alabama will be dreaming of an NCAA tournament run next spring.
8 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The Jayhawks reserve had a late first-round grade from many draft experts, but it was based mostly on potential. Playing 15 minutes per game, Robinson averaged 7.6 points (on 60 percent shooting) and 6.4 rebounds per game during a trying year in which his mother, grandmother and grandfather died. He should take on a key role for Kansas next season, giving him the opportunity to further improve his draft stock.
9 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
The Jayhawks' starting point guard also returns after averaging 9.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. Taylor was suspended for two games in February for violating team rules but played some of his best basketball after returning in March -- including a 20-point game in the Big 12 championship against Texas.
10 of 16Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI
Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State
The former top recruit showed flashes of brilliance in scoring 14.2 points per game, but his biggest problem has been staying on the court. He missed all of his freshman season and the first nine games of his sophomore year for receiving impermissible benefits while in high school. He also was suspended twice for incidents at the Maui Invitational, including two games for fighting with a teammate in the stands.
11 of 16Al Tielemans/SI
Maalik Wayns, Villanova
More consistent play from the Wildcats' floor general will help his draft stock and could help Villanova avoid a late-season swoon. This year, the Wildcats dropped their last six games, including a 61-57 loss to George Mason in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in which Wayans finished with only seven points and three assists.
12 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
The return of the SEC's leading scorer (at 19.5 points per game) gives the Commodores room to build on this season's 23-11 record. Jenkins came up big in Vanderbilt's most important games, including a 32-point outing in an 81-77 win over Kentucky. With center Festus Ezeli and forward Jeffery Taylor also staying in school, Vanderbilt brings back all five starters next season.
13 of 16Porter Binks/SI
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Kemba Walker's running mate will now become the Huskies' leading man. Lamb showed flashes of greatness in the NCAA tournament, scoring 24 points against San Diego State, 19 against Arizona and hitting clutch shots for the national champions. For UConn to remain a top-tier team in the Big East, Lamb will need to improve his season average of 11.1 points per game.
14 of 16Fred Vuich/SI
William Buford, Ohio State
Ohio State's title hopes got a boost from the return of its top perimeter player. The team's second-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, Buford provided timely offense throughout the year, but he struggled in the Buckeyes' season-ending loss to Kentucky, shooting 2-for-16 from the field and finishing with only nine points.
15 of 16Fred Vuich/SI
Ashton Gibbs, Pitt
Brad Wanamaker may be gone, but Pitt does get one member of its starting backcourt back. Gibbs led the Panthers with 16.8 points per game and hit 102 3-pointers as Jamie Dixon's team won the Big East regular-season title. Gibbs will want to make up for his NCAA tournament exit, a second-round loss to eighth-seeded Butler.
16 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
With fellow freshman Brandon Knight staying in the draft, Jones is Kentucky's top returning scorer. Jones averaged 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season and set a school freshman record by pouring in 35 points in a victory over Auburn in January.
You May Like
More College Basketball
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!