Kaleb Wesson

More Draft Decisions: Claxton, Bassey, Nowell, More

Draft decisions by this year’s early entrants continue to flood in as the NCAA’s May 29 withdrawal deadline nears. After relaying those decisions in a pair of posts already today, we’ve got more in the space below:

  • Georgia sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton will keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft pool, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that Claxton is a potential first-round pick.
  • According to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter), Western Kentucky freshman center Charles Bassey will stay in the 2019 draft pool, barring a last-second change of heart. Bassey is the No. 80 prospect on Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • Washington sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell is another early entrant who has decided to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility and stay in the draft, Goodman tweets. Nowell comes in at No. 92 on Givony’s big board.
  • Kentucky’s Nick Richards, a sophomore forward, will return to the Wildcats for at least one more season, he announced today in a video on Instagram.
  • South Carolina will get guard A.J. Lawson back for his sophomore year, as he announced today (via Twitter) that he’s withdrawing his name from the draft.
  • Bethune-Cookman head coach Ryan Ridder has informed Goodman (Twitter link) that both of his early entrants, Malik Maitland and Cletrell Pope, are heading back to school for another year.
  • Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson is pulling out of the draft to return to the Buckeyes for his junior season, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.
  • Bowling Green guard Justin Turner is heading back to school for his junior season, per Rothstein (via Twitter).
  • Weber State guard Jerrick Harding will withdraw from the draft and return to school for his senior season, he announced today (via Twitter).
  • Hampton junior guard Jermaine Marrow is withdrawing from the draft and retaining his NCAA eligibility, coach Buck Joyner tells Goodman (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Kemba, Beal, Heat, Hawks

Kemba Walker‘s free agency will be a fascinating situation to watch this offseason, since it’s hard to determine what the best-case scenario is for the Hornets, writes Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Re-signing Walker to a maximum salary contract would limit Charlotte’s ability to acquire help around him, but one scout thinks the Hornets would “be like an expansion team” without him, per Weitzman.

Complicating matters further? Walker will become eligible for a super-max contract, worth an extra $30MM+ over five years, if he earns a spot on this year’s All-NBA teams, which is a distinct possibility. Only the Hornets could offer him that super-max, but doing so would mean paying the point guard an average of $44MM annually through 2023/24.

“It’d be like the John Wall deal,” one front office source told Weitzman. “They should have traded him last year, when his value was high. They could have just reset.”

With lucrative deals for Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all set to come off the Hornets’ books in 2020, the team wouldn’t necessarily be mired in salary-cap hell for years if it re-signs Walker. Still, there’d be no obvious way to add a capable No. 2 option behind the point guard anytime soon.

“The surrounding pieces aren’t so bad,” another front office source said to Weitzman. “They just need another guy in there so they can all slide down a role.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Jaxson Hayes Declares For 2019 NBA Draft

Texas freshman forward/center Jaxson Hayes has entered the 2019 NBA draft and is hiring an agent, the school announced on Thursday morning in a press release.

While Hayes could technically withdraw from the draft by May 29 even after signing with an agent, he appears ready to go pro. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year currently projects as a lottery pick, with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony ranking him as 2019’s No. 9 prospect.

In his first – and likely only – season as a Longhorn, Hayes averaged 10.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and an impressive 2.2 BPG in 32 games (23.3 MPG). He wasn’t a huge factor for Texas’ offense, but didn’t miss often when he did shoot, recording a .728 FG%.

In his scouting report on Hayes, Givony notes that the big man is still “fairly raw in a lot of areas” and isn’t a great defensive rebounder. However, Givony adds that Hayes has major upside and an “excellent physical profile.” Because the youngster began playing basketball late, his trajectory gives him plenty of potential for long-term growth, Givony writes.

Hayes joins an ever-growing list of early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft. Here are a few more prospects who have recently declared for the draft: