Alijah Martin

Draft Decisions: Tshiebwe, Phillips, Brown, More

In one of this year’s most anticipated decisions, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe announced that he will keep his name in the NBA draft pool, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

Tshiebwe was selected as the national player of the year in 2022 after averaging 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game as a junior, and he was an All-American again this season with 16.5 PPG and 13.7 RPG. Despite his lofty college status, Tshiebwe isn’t a sure thing to get drafted, ranking 75th on ESPN’s big board.

“What makes me decide what I’m going to do today is not about me,” Tshiebwe said in his press conference, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “Most of the time I pray and I follow the discernment of God. It’s just I am following what God has put in place, because the decision, if you feel peace and joy and happiness in your heart, that’s what you’ve got to go with.”

A few more high-profile players have decided to remain in the draft ahead of the 11:59 pm EDT deadline to withdraw and retain their NCAA eligibility. Among them are Tennessee’s Julian Phillips, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). The freshman small forward has gotten positive feedback from NBA teams during the pre-draft process, Givony adds. Phillips, 19, is listed at 34th on ESPN’s rankings, making him a potential late first-round pick.

Also staying in the draft is Kobe Brown of Missouri, tweets Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. Norlander considers the senior power forward a possible second-round pick, and ESPN has him listed at No. 46.

Baylor’s Adam Flagler, who has one year of eligibility remaining, has decided to remain in the draft as well, Goodman tweets. The shooting guard is listed as No. 80 by ESPN.

Among those deciding to withdraw from the draft, today’s most significant decisions involved Florida Atlantic guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, who helped the Owls reach the Final Four in March, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He projects that their return will make FAU a preseason top-five team for next season.

According to Woj, Martin worked out for the Mavericks, Celtics, Bulls and Clippers, while Davis had sessions with the Celtics, Kings, Bucks, Jazz, Sixers and Pacers.

Here are a few more early entrants who have decided to return to school:

Draft Notes: Strawther, Roach, Martin, Audige, More

Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther has declared for the 2023 NBA draft, he announced via Twitter. The junior wing didn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility, so we’re assuming he’s going to hire an agent and turn pro.

Strawther averaged 15.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG on .469/.408/.776 shooting in 37 games (31.2 MPG) this season for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga went 31-6, ultimately losing in the Elite Eight to UConn, the eventual champions.

Strawther, who turns 21 years old next week, is considered a potential second-round pick, as he’s ranked No. 50 on ESPN’s best available players list.

Here are some more draft related notes:

  • Duke guard Jeremy Roach (Twitter link), Florida Atlantic guard Alijah Martin (Twitter link), and Northwestern guard Chase Audige (Twitter link) are all declaring for the draft while maintaining their eligibility. Roach and Martin are juniors, while Audige is a redshirt senior who has one year of eligibility left due to COVID-19. None of the three are on ESPN’s list, so they’re considered unlikely to be drafted.
  • The Portsmouth Invitational tournament has released its rosters, as Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report relays (via Twitter). The Portsmouth tournament is often used a springboard for lesser-known prospects to try and get invites to the G League Elite Camp and then the NBA combine, Wasserman notes, with Tyrese Martin and Jared Rhoden among the players who successfully went down that path last year and played some NBA minutes in 2022/23.
  • In case you missed it, we released an update on the projected lottery standings and tentative draft order for each of the league’s 30 teams, as well as which picks will and won’t change hands.