After the Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin, we all expected that Stanley Johnson would declare for the NBA Draft. Thus far, that hasn't happened. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson declared. Brandon Ashley declared. Kaleb Tarczewksi seems to be staying, though he has not announced anything yet. And yet nothing from Stanley.
Rumors have swirled around Stanley. He apparently met with Jay-Z to discuss representation. He wants assurances that he's a top ten pick. He's leaning towards staying. He doesn't want to leave after losing in the Elite Eight. His high school coach has been telling him to stay. Despite all of this information circling around, there hasn't been any word of a decision.
Stanley hasn't exactly helped things. He retweeted this:
Stanley Johnson made a great decision......he ate at Guadalajara. Also taking pics with fans too. Chimichangas > NBA early entry.
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) April 18, 2015
He's acknowledging how badly fans want him to return -- that's not something I'd expect from someone who is planning to leave.
Do you want cryptic tweets? Stanley has cryptic tweets, too:
Thinking out loud..
— Stanley Johnson (@_5Gauge) April 17, 2015
Finally, Stanley has been retweeting/shouting out Allonzo Trier, Arizona's top-rated recruit for 2016. Obviously the only way for Stanley to ever play with Trier would be if Stanley stayed, so this means he's staying, right?
Well, probably not. If I had to guess (and this is all pure speculation), I would guess that Stanley leaves for the NBA. He's a sure-fire lottery pick, and returning to school would just give scouts another year to pick him apart or, worse, a year to potentially get injured. Some players have returned to school under similar circumstances (Marcus Smart, for example), but that's the exception, not the rule.
Even if Stanley leaves, Arizona will be fine. Damion Lee is not a possibility after having picked Louisville, but it's also not bad for Arizona to successfully shepherd one-and-done players like Stanley from high school to the lottery -- it makes it more likely that Arizona lands similar one-and-dones in the future (that's basically Kentucky's whole schtick).
But man, if Stanley comes back, he's a national player of the year candidate. He was the best player on Arizona in stretches last season and, with an extra year of experience and maturity, he could have a Mike Bibby-esque sophomore season. If Stanley returns, Arizona is one of the top national championship contenders next year.
The deadline for early entry players to declare for the NBA Draft is April 26. Within a week, we'll know what Stanley is doing. Until then, though, I will continue to obsess over every tweet, speculate wildly, and dream of Stanley returning to lead Arizona to a national championship in 2016.