Chris Smith (UCLA)

Draft Decisions: Agbaji, Cockburn, Dickinson, Wong, More

Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji has decided to withdraw from the 2021 NBA draft and will return to school for his senior year, a source tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Agbaji, who was the No. 67 prospect on ESPN’s big board, averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game for the Jayhawks last year, knocking down 37.7% of his three-point attempts in 30 games (33.7 MPG). Agbaji projected as a potential second-round pick, according to Givony, who refers to him as one of the best defenders at the NCAA level.

The NCAA’s withdrawal deadline for early entrants in this year’s draft is on Wednesday, so there are plenty of other prospects making decisions on their future today. Here are a few of the other early entrants who are pulling out of the draft and returning to school:

While a number of prospects are removing their names from the 2021 draft pool, some early entrants have made the decision to go pro. UCLA’s Chris Smith is one, posting a farewell message to Bruins fans on Instagram. Sources tell Rothstein (Twitter link) that Saint Louis forward Hasahn French is also going pro rather than returning to college.

Draft Notes: Early Entrant Decisions, Grimes, Henry, Pacers, More

Justin Bean (Utah State), Eric Ayala (Maryland), Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo), Latrell Jones (Portland), Quentin Scott (Texas State), and De’Vion Harmon (Oklahoma) are all withdrawing from the 2021 NBA draft after testing the waters as early entrants, according to a series of reports from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Jeff Goodman of Stadium (all six links go to Twitter).

Of those six players, three will transfer, with Jones heading to Nicholls State, Scott making the move to Tulane, and Harmon going to Oregon.

Meanwhile, Texas big man Jericho Sims, who boosted his stock with a strong showing at last week’s combine, will remain in the draft. Klutch Sports published a tweet today welcoming Sims to the agency. UCLA’s Chris Smith is also expected to go pro, per Goodman (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the draft:

NBA Announces Initial Early Entrant List For 2021 Draft

The NBA has officially released the initial list of early entrants for the 2021 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 353 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 296 are from colleges, while 57 are international early entrants.

That number obliterates the previous record of 236 early entrants, established in 2018. That had been expected, however, since the NCAA gave players an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in seniors having to decide between staying at college for one more season or declaring for the draft as an “early” entrant.

Since well over half of the college early entrants are seniors, there are actually fewer college underclassmen than usual in this initial group of early entrants.

This year’s total of 353 early entrants figures to shrink significantly by July 7 and again by July 19, the two deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like the pool will remain extremely crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants certain to exceed 60, the number of picks in the draft.

Our tracker of early entrants for the 2021 draft now includes seniors and is fully up to date. It can be found right here. It doesn’t include players who are automatically draft-eligible this year. As Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets, that list of auto-eligible players includes the prospects who played for the G League Ignite, such as Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga.

Here are the changes we made to our tracker today:


Newly-added players:

College players:

These players hadn’t previously been included on our unofficial list of underclassmen early entrants and weren’t on the list of senior early entrants that the NBA sent to teams last week.

International players:

These players weren’t previously mentioned on our list of international early entrants. The country listed here indicates where they last played, not necessarily where they were born.


Players removed:

Despite reports or announcements that the players below would declare for the draft, they didn’t show up on the NBA’s official list.

That could mean a number of things — they may have decided against entering the draft; they may have entered the draft, then withdrawn; they may have incorrectly filed their paperwork; or the NBA may have accidentally omitted some names.

In any case, we’ve removed the following names from our early entrant list for the time being.

John Petty, Chris Smith, Javonte Smart Withdrawing From Draft

Alabama wing John Petty has elected to return to school for his senior year after testing the draft waters, reports Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News (Twitter link).

Petty, who declared for the draft as an early entrant this spring, averaged 14.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG with an impressive .440 3PT% in 29 games (33.5 MPG) as a junior. He ranked 53rd on ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects of 2020, making him a candidate to be drafted, but he has decided to wait another year before going pro.

Another candidate to be picked in the second round has also withdrawn from the draft, with Chris Smith‘s father indicating that the UCLA forward is headed back to school, per Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

The No. 65 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Smith had a breakout junior season for the Bruins increasing his scoring average to 13.1 PPG while also contributing 5.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.0 SPG in 31 contests (28.3 MPG).

LSU guard Javonte Smart is also pulling out of the draft, Rothstein tweets. Smart, who doesn’t rank among ESPN’s top 100, recorded 12.5 PPG and 4.2 APG in 31 games (34.2 MPG) in his sophomore season in 2019/20.

Monday represents the deadline for college early entrants to withdraw from the draft and maintain their NCAA eligibility. That deadline arrives at midnight tonight, as Rothstein tweets.

Because of the draft postponement, the deadline to declare for the draft as an early entrant actually doesn’t arrive for another two weeks. So if a player like Petty, Smith, or Smart has second thoughts by August 17, he could technically re-enter the draft, as long as he’s prepared to forgo his remaining college eligibility.

UCLA’s Chris Smith, Others Declare For 2020 Draft

UCLA junior forward Chris Smith is among the latest early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft, telling Jonathan Givony of ESPN that he’s “100% committed to the process.”

Smith, who was named the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player last month, averaged 13.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 31 games (28.3 MPG), with a shooting line of .458/.341/.840.

Givony, who has Smith coming in at No. 72 on ESPN’s big board for 2020, notes that the UCLA forward is the youngest junior in ESPN’s top 100, since he enrolled in college as a 17-year-old — he just turned 20 in December.

Givony adds that Smith’s age, improving shot, and defensive versatility will make him an intriguing target for NBA teams. However, Smith is the sort of prospect who may have benefited from in-person workouts and interviews, which likely won’t be possible during this year’s pre-draft process, as we detailed on Monday.

Here are a few more of the latest early entrants for the 2020 draft:

  • Stanford guard Tyrell Terry will test the 2020 draft waters, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Terry, who is ranked by ESPN as the 20th-best freshman prospect, is considered one of the country’s best young shooters, having knocked down 40.8% of his three-pointers and 89.1% of his free throws in 2019/20.
  • North Carolina State recruit Josh Hall will test the draft waters, he announced on Twitter. Hall, a former standout forward at Moravian Prep, previously re-classified from the 2019 recruiting class to 2020, so he has the option of going pro or joining the Wolfpack for next season.
  • Utah sophomore swingman Both Gach is declaring for the draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports (Twitter link). Gach averaged 10.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 27 games (30.4 MPG) as a sophomore, but struggled with his shot, making just 39.7% of his field goals and 25.0% of his threes.