Monday marks the final deadline for early entrants to withdraw their names from the draft and remain eligible for a future year. NCAA regulations required players to make their decisions by the end of May to retain their college eligibility, but international players have until 5:00 pm ET today to declare their intentions.
Several prominent prospects have opted to stay in the draft pool, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
That list includes James Nnaji, a Nigerian center projected to be taken in the latter part of the first round (Twitter link). Nnaji, who is 24th in ESPN’s latest ranking of the top 100 prospects, stands 6’11” with a 7’5″ wingspan.
He played this season for Barcelona, which is one of the best clubs in the EuroLeague. His team is still active in the Spanish ACB league playoffs, so Nnaji hasn’t been able to work out for any NBA teams yet.
Tristan Vukcevic, a 7’0″ center out of Serbia, will also stay in the draft (Twitter link). Vukcevic, who plays for Partizan Belgrade, made an impact during a scrimmage at last month’s draft combine by scoring 21 points in 17 minutes, Givony adds. He’s 35th on ESPN’s big board.
Sources have told Givony that Vukcevic hopes to come to the NBA right away, and teams that have expressed interest in drafting him have been informed that he doesn’t want to be stashed in Europe for another year (Twitter link). Vukcevic is hoping to be taken by a franchise that’s willing to pay his buyout fee and give him an immediate opportunity.
Nadir Hifi, whom Givony lists as one of the best available stash options, will also stay in the draft (Twitter link). The 6’3″ French point guard has already committed to play for Paris in the EuroCup next season and is ranked 72nd by ESPN.
Mantas Rubstavicius, who’s listed at 63rd on ESPN’s board, has elected to take his name out of the draft pool (Twitter link). The Lithuanian forward has signed with the New Zealand Breakers and hopes to improve his draft outlook for 2024.