CJ Walker

Draft Notes: Juzang, Abmas, Last-Minute Decisions

After leading UCLA to the Final Four, Johnny Juzang will withdraw from the NBA draft and return for his junior season. Juzang announced his decision on Twitter about an hour before the NCAA’s Wednesday deadline of midnight Eastern Time for early entrants to pull out of the draft and retain their eligibility.

“Going through the draft process has been an amazing experience,” he wrote. “I was blessed to connect with great people, learn and grow, and get a feel for life at the next level. I want to thank everyone who has helped me in this process including my family, trainers, school and especially my dad who helped me for countless hours!”

There was talk that Juzang might be a first-round pick after an outstanding performance in the NCAA tournament, but a disappointing showing at the combine hurt his status, according to Chad Ford (Twitter link), who speculates that he could be back in first-round consideration next year.

There’s more on last-minute draft decisions:

Draft Notes: Garza, Walker, Nembhard, Mann

The uncertainty surrounding this year’s draft process may cause Wooden Award runner-up Luka Garza to return to Iowa for another season, writes Myron Medcalf of ESPN.

“I think it all depends on what teams are telling me in these interviews and what they’re seeing on film,” Garza said. “I’m not leaving for an unknown or an uncertain. That’s the one thing about this process, is I need to know for sure there will be an opportunity for me next year (in the NBA) because if I don’t, it’s too risky to leave behind what I have at Iowa. I don’t want to do anything that I’m not sure about.”

The 6’11” junior says he’s not “leaning” either way, but wants an opportunity to prove himself at NBA workouts. He averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds this season, but isn’t projected to be drafted. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Garza 80th on his list of 2020’s top 100 prospects.

“This year is obviously an interesting process with everything that’s going on,” Garza said. “I haven’t been able to work out in front of teams. I think I could prove a lot of things in workouts. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Ohio State guard CJ Walker announced today on Instagram that he will take his name out of the draft and return to school for his senior season. Walker averaged 8.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists this year. “After talking to my family and coach (Chris) Holtmann, I have officially notified the NBA that I am withdrawing from consideration for the 2020 NBA Draft,” Walker wrote. “The feedback we received was very helpful and I’m looking forward to getting back to work with my teammates. I love playing in front of Buckeye nation and I can’t wait to finish my degree and my playing career here at THE Ohio State University!”
  • Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard is also leaving the draft, but he won’t be returning to the Gators, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN. With two years of eligibility remaining, Nembhard plans to transfer and may seek a waiver allowing him to play next season. Nembhard hired agent Jaafar Choufani, who is certified by the NBA, so he is free to return to college basketball.
  • Nembhard’s spot in Florida’s starting backcourt will likely be taken by Tre Mann, who has also decided to withdraw from the draft, sources tell Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.

Early Entry Deadline For 2020 NBA Draft Has Passed

The deadline for potential early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft fell on April 26 at 11:59pm ET, which means prospects who aren’t automatically draft-eligible can no longer enter this year’s pool.

Players who have entered the draft don’t necessarily have to stay in, as long as they haven’t hired an agent — or as long as they’re working with one of 23 agents certified by the NCAA. Currently, the deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is June 3, though it’s possible that date will be adjusted if the NBA draft is postponed.

The NBA has a separate withdrawal deadline from the NCAA’s, allowing prospects to pull out as late as 10 days before the draft. With the draft scheduled for June 25, the NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 15 — that date is generally the one to watch for international prospects, who don’t have to worry about maintaining NCAA eligibility.

Our full list of early entrants can be found right here. While we did our best to make our list as accurate as possible, some players who declared in recent weeks may have slipped through the cracks, while others reported to have entered the draft may have had a change of heart.

The NBA should formally release its initial early entrant list for 2020 within the next two or three days, so we’ll update our list at that point to reflect the league’s official data.

Here are the latest additions we’ve made to our list:

And here are a couple players who had previously planned to enter the draft who ended up opting to return to school instead. They’ve been removed from our list:

It appears there are approximately 190-ish early entrants in this year’s draft pool, which would be a significant step down from the last couple years, when that total has been in the neighborhood of 235.

Of course, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), the real question will be how many of these initial early entrants end up staying in the draft. That number landed at 98 last year, and 91 in 2018. It will likely end up lower this year, not just because the early total is lower, but due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Givony observes, many prospects who entered the draft may not have much more info about where they stand by the June 3 withdrawal deadline than they have now.