It's been a tough 24 hours for Michigan State and offseason in general.
Entering Monday, the possibility of a 2016-17 lineup that included Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Josh Jackson and Deyonta Davis was very possible. That would easily have been a top-three or four club and Final Four contender capable of winning it all, but that's since gone by the wayside.
Jackson, the No. 1 overall high school prospect, spurned the home-star Spartans to sign with Kansas, and less than a day later, are also losing Davis, their stud freshman forward of this past season. The school announced Tuesday that Davis is declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft with plans to sign with an agent.
Despite playing just over 10 minutes per game as a freshman, Davis averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while starting 16 of the final 17 games of the season and helped Sparty win 13 of their final 15 games, including the Big Ten Tournament.
He set a Michigan State freshman record with 64 blocks, ranking second on the Spartan single-season chart. He also shot 57% over his final seven games and was poised to be one of the best big men in college hoops next season, but instead opted to enter the NBA.
This is significant for Kentucky for several reasons. For one, you could have still made a good case for MSU being a top-five team next season with Davis and someone capable of beating the Wildcats. That's still possible when the two teams meet in the Champion's Classic next season, but there's no doubt Kentucky will be the favorite in that game now with no Davis to worry about.
Speaking of, with Davis now out of the picture, Kentucky will likely be favored to win every game they play in the regular season as of now. That date with the Spartans on a neutral court was easily one of, if not the toughest game UK is set to play in, but now that honor will likely go to North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic, that is unless the Tar Heels lose Kennedy Meeks and others to the NBA draft as well.
Also, with Davis off to the NBA, he's guaranteed to get an invite to the NBA Draft Combine. That's one less spot for a guy like, say, Isaiah Briscoe to get as he ponders his future. Briscoe would at least like to get to the combine and get NBA feedback.
While Briscoe is likely coming back, all it would take is one team at the combine to tell him they'd strongly consider him late in Round 1 or early in Round 2 to sway him into turning pro this year. I like Kentucky's chances of making it to the Final Four next year, but only if Briscoe is part of it. Without him, UK really falls back to the pack of teams looking up at Duke in terms of national title favorites.
So keep rooting for the first and second-round NBA prospects who are underclassman to at least declare for the draft and get into the NBA Scouting Combine.