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Kennedy Meeks, Justin Jackson into NBA Draft; Joel Berry returning

UNC is poised to take a major step back next season depending on who goes pro.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels is close to losing their entire starting lineup from last season.

In addition to seniors Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson graduating, the Heels could be losing sophomore forward Justin Jackson and junior forward Kennedy Meeks to the NBA draft. The school just announced that Jackson and Meeks are entering the draft.

The good news for UNC is that sophomore guard Joel Berry II is returning to school.

Having Berry back will ensure the Heels remain an NCAA Tournament contender, but that's about it if neither Meeks nor Jackson return. Those two with Berry would make UNC a top 5-10 team next season, not to mention Kentucky's most difficult regular-season opponent when the two face off in the CBS Sports Classic.

Underclassmen have until April 24 to enter the Draft. They have until May 25 to withdraw from the Draft to be eligible to play college basketball next season.

Interestingly enough, the school's press release says that the NBA Draft Combine will see approximately 70 players invited by the NBA to participate, will take place May 10-15 in Chicago. That could mean guys like Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe are not invited to the combine if enough players declare for the draft.

After all, there's anywhere between 40-70 guys who the NBA may view as more likely draft prospect than either Briscoe or Lee. I've been under the impression this offseason that somewhere around 80-100 prospects were going to be invited since pretty much every draft-eligible player that was even remotely decent in college has declared for the draft.

Then again, maybe the NBA is countering this by simply not inviting guys like Briscoe who are likely to come back or guys like, I hate to say it, but Lee, who don't have much of a shot at being drafted.

We shall see.