7:58am: Projected lottery pick Jakob Poeltl has decided not to enter this year’s draft, report Kyle Goon and Matthew Piper of The Salt Lake Tribune. The freshman center from the University of Utah is the No. 11 prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, and Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him 14th. Poeltl is so far the most highly regarded prospect for this year’s draft to opt against entering, though he’ll have until Sunday to enter if he changes his mind.
The Austrian-born 19-year-old impressed defensively against top-two prospect Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA Tournament, holding the Duke big man to just six points on 3-of-6 shooting, even though Poeltl’s Utes lost to the eventual national champion Blue Devils. Poeltl didn’t put up strong numbers offensively, averaging just 9.1 points in 23.3 minutes per game and shooting just 44.4% from the free-throw line this season. The 7-footer could stand to refine his game some more in college, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors wrote in our latest Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Power Rankings, advocating for Poeltl to stay in school as he’s apparently decided to do.
This year’s draft is top-heavy with big men, so it would seem Poeltl stands a better chance of being selected more highly next year. There aren’t many centers projected to go in the back half of the first round this year, so teams that have needs on the interior and a mid first-round pick are probably disappointed.