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Boise State hit with good news, bad news

In one day, the Broncos got one key player back and lost another.

NCAA Basketball: Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of players will ultimately withdraw from the NBA Draft this offseason. None may be more significant than Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison, who announced on Thursday that he’d be returning to the Broncos for his senior season.

Or, none would’ve seemed to have been more significant.

You may ask yourself, why should I spend time thinking about Hutchison instead of blue-blood dwellers like Tony Bradley and Hamidou Diallo?

Because Hutchison is really good.

He took a big step forward last season as a junior, and was a versatile force for a Boise State team that had a surprising 20-win season. Hutchison averaged 17.4 points per game, which included a career-high 34 points in the Broncos’ opening round NIT win at Utah.

And he produced from all over the floor.

Hutchison was in the top five in the MWC in conference-only assist rate (22.2%) and defensive rebounding rate (oddly, also 22.2%). He was also among the best in the league at getting to the free throw line, and had no shortage of signature moments, like a buzzer-beater to sink Colorado State or a big performance in a win over SMU.

It doesn’t seem like he’s reached his ceiling, either.

As he likely heard during the evaluation process, he’ll need to prove himself as a three-point threat to increase his value as an NBA prospect. He showed potential there last season, making 41.0 percent on 39 attempts. A slight improvement at the free throw line, where he shot 67.1 percent, would also go a long way given all the attempts he creates.

So Hutchison’s return should’ve locked down Boise State as the early 2017-18 MWC favorite. But with the good, came the not so good.

News also broke Thursday that sophomore point guard Paris Austin would transfer out of the program. Austin made his own leap forward last season, putting together a strong enough campaign that he was an All-MWC honorable mention.

The Idaho Press-Tribune talked to Austin about a decision that “surprised” Leon Rice when he asked for his release earlier this week.

"My family and I talked about it and we just decided that a transfer was best for us,” Austin told the Idaho Press-Tribune in a phone interview. “My family thought about it after the season and mentioned it to me. I was set on coming back to Boise State, but my family continued to talk to me and gave me different reasons and basically said we think this would be the best idea for us, transferring.

With Austin gone, Boise State loses a key piece of its roster. But with Hutchison in the fold, the Broncos should be able to challenge at the top of a league that has no dominant power at the moment. Athletic wing Justinian Jessup had a promising freshman season, and Fordham graduate transfer Christian Sengfelder (12.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) should be able to replace some of departing senior Nick Duncan’s production.

The Broncos are also in the mix for ESPN three-star point guard Marcus Shaver, who was released from his letter intent with UC Santa Barbara. The prep prospect recently took an official visit to Boise and may have high major interest.

For Leon Rice, Shaver may have suddenly flipped from a luxury to a necessity.