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Bossi's Best: Most difficult to replace early entries

Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro (Butch Dill / AP)

The time for deciding whether or not to stay in the NBA Draft or return to college has now come and gone and the early entrants are set. Who will be the hardest to replace? Auburn's Isaac Okoro makes the list in this week's edition of Bossi's Best.

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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


Why him?: Prior to the season, most Memphis fans might have rightfully been fretting about replacing James Wiseman. But it is actually the loss of production from Achiuwa that will be much tougher to replace. His nearly 16 points and 11 rebounds per night earned him AAC Player of the Year honors.

How they'll try to replace him: Penny Hardaway and his staff got five-star Moussa Cisse to reclassify to 2020 and he'll help. But he doesn't have the inside/out game that Achiuwa did and should be more of a true center and defensive starter. D.J. Jeffries will be back and his role will certainly be expanded. The key here is the eligibility status of transfers Landers Nolley from Virginia Tech and DeAndre Williams from Evansville. If one or both is cleared to play this season, Achiuwa won't be missed nearly as much.

Why him?: Had Alexander elected to return for his final season in Omaha, Creighton would have had one of the best backcourts in all of college basketball and a trendy preseason Final Four pick. As much as his nearly 17 points per game will be tough to replace, it is his outstanding defense that will be most sorely missed.

How they'll try to replace him: Don't get me wrong, the Jays will still have plenty of firepower with Marcus Zegarowski and Mitchell Ballock. It will also clear the way for Big East Sixth Man of the Year Denzel Mahoney to play more minutes. They can still be high octane, but anybody thinking Alexander won't be tough to replace is kidding themselves.

Why him?: Dotson was a first team All-Big 12 guard, a second team All-American and the guy that the Jayhawks turned to for offense. His ability to get into the lane opened space for KU shooters and his speed was a major issue.

How they'll try to replace him: Bill Self is lucky in that he can give returning senior Marcus Garrett even more minutes and more ball-handling responsibility. But, he's not the scorer that Dotson was and while the Kansas staff is high on redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris, he's not Dotson either. Five-star Bryce Thompson should help with the scoring load and a jump from Ochai Agbaji would help.

Why him?: Really, it would have been fair to put any of Arizona's three freshmen that left -- Nico Mannion and Josh Green are the other two -- here. However, Nnaji was the most consistent of the group and his size will be tough to replace.

How they'll try to replace him: Sean Miller and the Wildcats have Jordan Brown coming off of a redshirt but who knows what to expect from the former five-star after a freshman year at Nevada filled with growing pains. Can Christian Koloko step up? Will any of the International recruits be ready to go? The problem won't be bodies to throw at the hole left by Nnaji, they've got those. It is just a matter of who steps up.

Why him?: Louisville knew that the 2019-20 season would likely be Nwora's last in a Cardinals uniform. However, the decision of junior college star Jayden Scrubb -- who they had hoped would be able to replace much of his scoring -- to also enter the NBA Draft has put them in a tough spot.

How they'll try to replace him: If Samuel Williamson steps up and plays like the five-star prospect he was coming out of high school, this could be much ado about nothing. Incoming four-star forward J.J. Traynor is going to be a nice player in time, but how much can reasonably be expected from him in his first year?

Why him?: Okoro's numbers as a freshman won't blow anybody away. He was solid, but he wasn't a great outside shooter or high-volume rebounder. But, his toughness, versatility as a defender and all of his intangibles will be missed. Especially since he wasn't necessarily expected to be a one-and-done type player.

How they'll try to replace him: If Jamal Johnson could take a big step forward, that would be helpful. Incoming freshmen J.T. Thor and Chris Moore have talent, but are they ready to do all that Okoro could do? Most likely, it's going to put even more weight on the shoulders of Okoro's former high school teammate Sharife Cooper. Cooper plays a different position, but without Okoro, the five-star point guard will depended on even more than expected.

Why him?: Sheesh, this argument could be made for many of Kentucky's departed players. Especially Nick Richards if Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr isn't granted eligibility. But, it was Quickley that was SEC Player of the Year and his maturing presence will be very much missed.

How they'll try to replace him: Look, incoming five-stars B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke should be able to help cover the loss of Quickley's scoring and deep jump shooting. However, the Wildcats could have really used him as an additional ball handler and now it will be up to freshman Devin Askew or Creighton transfer Davion Mintz to handle the bulk of the ball-handling duties.

Why him?: A double-double machine, Smith was turning into a college star and would have been a preseason All-American on many lists. Not only did he score and rebound, he was a big-time rim protector for a Maryland team that lacked many low post options.

How they'll try to replace him: Replacing Smith may be one of the toughest tasks that any program in the country is faced with. Seven-footer Chol Marial hasn't been able to stay healthy going back to his high school days and is a question mark. Alabama transfer Galin Smith gives the Terps another body, but how much can be expected from a guy who averaged a little over three points per game at his last stop?

Why him?: After a promising 10-2 start, the Huskies season spiraled out of control and saw them finish at 15-17. At the least, though, they could always rely on Stewart who led them in scoring (17.0 per game) and rebounding (8.8 per game) and competed with consistent effort.

How they'll try to replace him: This could be tough. The Huskies don't return any proven low post scorers and didn't sign any high school prospects from the class of 2020. Transfer J'Raan Brooks is going to get every opportunity to try and fill the scoring and rebounding void left by Stewart.

Why him?: This one stings pretty badly if you are Stanford. Not only was Terry a big-time performer as a freshman, there was simply no way have expected that he was going to be a one-and-done player.

How they'll try to replace him: Daejon Davis and Bryce Wills are back and they do give the Cardinal some experience. Late signee Michael O'Connell could be a sneaky good signing as well. What this does more than anything else, though, is put a lot of pressure on incoming five-star swingman Ziaire Williams to be every bit as good as advertised.

Why him?: Toppin is easily the most difficult to replace player on this list. He was a monster in every sense of the word and the National Player of the Year.

How they'll try to replace him: Look for leading returning scorer Ibi Watson to step up as the go to guy, but he doesn't make up for the loss off Toppin's presence in the low post. Chase Johnson will be back from his medical leave of absence and could really help. But, seriously, replacing a guy like Toppin is going to be an awfully big ask for anybody.