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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization that regulates student-athletes from over 1,200 institutions and conferences. It organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III. The NCAA oversees the organization of several national championships in various sports across all three divisions, most notably the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Division I Men's and Women's Basketball tournaments. The NCAA also sets rules for student-athletes, including eligibility requirements and regulations on amateurism.
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We find ourselves in a new era of college basketball characterized by a shift towards older, more experienced players. Several factors have contributed to this transformation, including the implementation of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules, the transfer portal, the COVID-19 eligibility extension, and some adjustments to the NBA Draft early entry process.
With the NBA draft deadline set for May 31, it is notable that, for the second consecutive season, the consensus National Player of the Year winner has decided to return to college. Following the 2022-23 season, Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky opted to come back after receiving multiple player of the year accolades. Now, Zach Edey from Purdue has made the same choice for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
While their decisions were not solely influenced by their respective teams' unexpected early exits from the NCAA tournament, those losses certainly played a role. Tshiebwe and Kentucky suffered a surprising defeat against Saint Peter's as a No. 2 seed in the first round of the 2022 tournament. Similarly, Edey and Purdue became only the second team ever to lose as a No. 1 seed against a No. 16 seed when they were defeated by Fairleigh Dickinson in the opening round in March.
The combination of various factors and the impact of those tournament disappointments have led to a resurgence of experienced players in college basketball, adding a new dynamic to the landscape of the sport.