Jalon Moore

Mark Sears, Michael Ajayi Headline Latest NBA Draft Withdrawals

Alabama’s Mark Sears is withdrawing from the 2024 NBA draft and will return to play for the Crimson Tide after helping his team reach the Final Four this past season, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports (Twitter link).

Coming in at No. 80 on ESPN’s best-available board, Sears was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2023/24. The 6’1″ guard averaged 21.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 50.8% from the field, 43.6% from three and 85.7% from the free-throw line.

I got good feedback from the NBA,” Sears said, per Givony. “But I can still get better in a few areas. I want to show I am a dog on defense next season, continue to bring vocal leadership, and work on my body and get into better shape. NIL has changed basketball and NBA teams told me that age isn’t a factor in today’s game, so I was comfortable coming back to try and bring home a national championship to Alabama.

Michael Ajayi, who is transferring from Pepperdine to Gonzaga, also withdrew from the draft, according to Givony (Twitter link). The 6’7″ guard averaged 17.2 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 47.0% from beyond the arc. He made the All-WCC First Team in his first year with Pepperdine.

Ajayi is ranked No. 75 on ESPN’s big board and, according to Givony, he’ll be “closely monitored” as a senior after earning some fans during the pre-draft process.

Both Sears and Ajayi participated in the 2024 NBA Combine.

Here are more of the latest draft decisions from early entrants ahead of the tonight’s NCAA withdrawal deadline:

Withdrawing from the draft:

  • Ole Miss guard Matthew Murrell is returning to the Rebels for his super-senior season after averaging 16.2 points last season, per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein (Twitter link). Murrell is No. 77 on ESPN’s board.
  • Wooga Poplar, who is transferring from Miami, is returning to school. He’s visiting Oregon next week, according to Rothstein (Twitter link). Poplar averaged 13.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in his junior season after helping Miami reach the Final Four in 2023.
  • Princeton guard Xaivian Lee is returning to school for his junior season, per Givony (Twitter link). Lee averaged 17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game en route to a First-Team All-Ivy League nod.
  • Former Campbell guard Anthony Dell’Orso is transferring to Arizona for his junior season, according to Givony (Twitter link). He averaged 19.5 points per contest and shot 38.0% from three.
  • Malik Dia is transferring from Belmont to Ole Miss for his junior season (Twitter link via Rothstein). He averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds last season after starting his collegiate career at Vanderbilt.
  • Jalon Moore is returning to Oklahoma for his senior season (Twitter link via Rothstein). Moore began his career at Georgia Tech before joining the Sooners in his junior season.
  • In case you missed it, Arizona guard Caleb Love is withdrawing from the draft for his super-senior season with the Wildcats.

Princeton’s Xaivian Lee Among Players Entering Draft

Princeton sophomore guard Xaivian Lee is declaring for the 2024 NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Lee wasn’t highly recruited entering college — in fact he had no scholarship offers, according to Wojnarowski. But the Toronto-area native had a solid second season, averaging 17.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.7 APG and 1.0 SPG on .451/.338/.798 shooting in 29 games for the Tigers.

Butler’s Posh Alexander, a senior guard, is declaring for the draft (Twitter link) while maintaining his fifth and final year of college eligibility. Oklahoma’s Jalon Moore, a junior forward, is another draft early entrant (Twitter link), and while he didn’t say it outright, he suggested he would be maintaining the possibility of returning to Norman.

Evansville’s Yacine Toumi, a Tunisian-French forward, has also declared for the draft, he told Jon Chepkevich of DraftExpress (Twitter link). It’s unclear if Toumi will be testing the draft waters or forgoing his final season of eligibility.

South Florida’s Selton Miguel (Instagram link) is another player testing the draft waters while maintaining his eligibility, but he’s also entering the transfer portal. The 6’4″ guard has one season of eligibility left.

None of the players are listed on ESPN’s big board of the top-100 prospects in 2024, seemingly making it unlikely that any of them will hear their name called in June. They’ll be trying to impress NBA teams in pre-draft workouts and interviews to boost their stock.