Viewed as a potential top-20 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford has decided against declaring as an early entrant, he announced on Monday. After a solid freshman season with the Razorbacks, Gafford will return to the program for his sophomore year.
“Obviously this is great news for us,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “He’s the centerpiece to what we are doing here, and this gives him the chance to build on the tremendous freshman year he had. Daniel is a special player and the sky is the limit for him.”
Gafford’s announcement came on the heels of reports from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com (Twitter links) indicating that the youngster was strongly leaning toward returning to school. Givony noted that 2018’s draft class is “loaded” with big men, suggesting that Gafford may have a better chance of standing out in a less stacked 2019 class.
In his first college season, Gafford averaged 11.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in just 22.6 minutes per contest for Arkansas. He’s viewed as an athletic center with exceptional physical tools, and was projected to be the 18th pick in Givony’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com. Instead, he’ll be a Razorback for at least one more year, perhaps eyeing a spot in the 2019 lottery.