Wednesday marked the deadline for players to pull their names from the NBA draft pool, and a few last-minute decisions added new layers of intrigue to a Pac-12 Conference that already was going to look vastly different once the 2018-19 season tips off.
Most prominently was the decision by Stanford star forward Reid Travis to not only pull his name from the NBA draft, but that he also is leaving the Cardinal as a graduate transfer. Travis will be eligible immediately, and he is widely reported to be drawing interest from such college basketball heavyweights as Kentucky and Villanova.
Travis played four seasons with Stanford but was granted a medical hardship after missing the final 22 games of the 2015-16 season due to injury. Stanford finished in a three-way tie for third in the Pac-12 last season at 11-7, losing out to UCLA and Utah in the tiebreakers for the final two first-round byes at the Pac-12 tournament.
With Travis, Stanford was expected to compete for a top-four finish once again in 2018-19. Without him, the Pac-12 loses a talent who would have been one of the preseason favorites for the league's player of the year, while teams like the up-and-coming Colorado Buffaloes have one less headache to deal with. CU held Travis to just 10 points and six rebounds in a 64-56 home win against the Cardinal on Feb. 11.
In league games, Travis ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring (18.3 points per game) and third in rebounding (9.0) while landing first team all-league honors. CU and Stanford meet just once next season in northern California, and the matchup will likely take on a much different complexion for the Buffs without having to tackle Travis.
Another first team all-league selection, forward Noah Dickerson, announced he will be returning to Washington, significantly bolstering the Huskies chances of being an NCAA contender in their second season under coach Mike Hopkins. Dickerson, who will be a senior next season, ranked second on the team in scoring (15.3) and led the Huskies with 8.3 rebounds per game.
UCLA also received a boost when 2017-18 freshman Kris Wilkes also opted to forgo the draft to return to school. Wilkes will be the Bruins' top returning scorer (13.7) and, like the Buffs' McKinley Wright, Wilkes earned a spot on the Pac-12 all-freshman team.
Though he wasn't expected to remain in the draft pool, UCLA guard Jaylen Hands also decided to return to the Bruins. Hands averaged 9.9 points as a part-time starter last season. Also opting to return to school was Washington State's Robert Franks, who earned the league's Most Improved Player award after improving his scoring average by 11 points to 17.4 per game last year.