Sion James

Villanova’s Dixon Among Several Players Withdrawing From Draft

The deadline is looming for early entrants to withdraw from the 2024 NBA draft and retain their NCAA eligibility. Those players have until the end of the day on Wednesday to formally remove their names from this year’s draft pool if they hope to resume their college careers.

A number of prospects are taking that route, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, who tweets that two-time All-Big East Villanova forward Eric Dixon is among those who are withdrawing from the draft to return to school. Dixon averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 rebounds with a .465/.346/.862 shooting line in 30.6 minutes per game across 34 appearances for the Wildcats in 2023/24 and will rejoin the club for his super-senior season in ’24/25.

Former Tulane guard Sion James, who is transferring to Duke (Twitter link), and former Drexel big man Amari Williams, who is transferring to Kentucky (Twitter link), are among the other seniors will who will take advantage of their year of extra eligibility due to COVID and play college ball for another season, per Rothstein. Cincinnati center Aziz Bandaogo, who will remain with the Bearcats after being named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2023/24, is also withdrawing from the draft (Twitter link).

Here are several more of the latest draft withdrawals, via Rothstein:

Draft Notes: Ighodaro, Armstrong, Kelly, Bronny, More

Marquette power forward Oso Ighodaro has opted to enter the 2024 NBA draft, he announced on Instagram. Ighodaro’s announcement doesn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility, so it sounds like he intends to go pro, forgoing the “super-senior” season granted due to COVID.

The No. 66 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Ighodaro spent four years at Marquette, increasing his role and his production in each season. As a senior in 2023/24, he averaged 13.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game across 36 starts, with a .576 FG%.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and updates, with a focus on early entrants:

  • Villanova sophomore guard Mark Armstrong will test the NBA draft waters this spring, according to an Instagram announcement. Armstrong became a full-time starter for the Wildcats in 2023/24, but put up modest numbers, including 8.4 PPG and 2.4 APG on .417/.282/.776 shooting.
  • Miles Kelly, a junior guard at Georgia Tech, is entering the 2024 draft, according to Jon Chepkevich of Draft Express (Twitter link). Kelly’s shooting numbers dipped across the board in ’23/24, though he still managed to put up 13.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 32 games (31.8 MPG).
  • Northwestern junior wing Brooks Barnhizer is testing the draft waters as well, tweets Chepkevich. Barnhizer boosted his scoring average to 14.6 PPG in 2023/24 and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive team.
  • It appears that Tulane senior guard Sion James will forgo his final year of college eligibility and go pro. He announced on Instagram that he’s entering his name in this year’s draft pool and didn’t mention anything about retaining his eligibility. James, who tested the waters a year ago, averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.4 RPG with a .381 3PT% this past season.
  • South Florida senior forward Kasean Pryor is testing the draft waters while also entering the transfer portal, a source tells Joe Tipton of On3 Sports (Twitter link). Pryor previously played at Boise State and Northwest Florida State College before spending a season with South Florida in ’23/24.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer spoke to an NBA general manager, another front office executive, and a scout – all from different teams – to get their opinions on Bronny James‘ future. The GM suggested the USC guard would be a first-rounder if he had shot the ball well as a freshman but believes he’s “nowhere near ready” based on what he showed in his first college seasons.

Draft Decisions: A. Jackson, Edey, Beekman, More

Andre Jackson Jr., who helped lead Connecticut to a national title, has opted to keep his name in the draft rather than return to the Huskies for another season, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jackson is projected to be taken late in the first round or early in the second round, Wojnarowski adds. The junior shooting guard ranks 32nd on ESPN’s big board and is projected to go to the Pacers with the 32nd pick in the latest mock draft by Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

“My time at UCONN has been filled with ups and downs but through it all I built relationships with my teammates, coaches, friends and fans that will last forever,” Jackson wrote in a Twitter post. “I’ve made so many memories playing in that jersey and I will miss it. But I’ll always be a husky. Thank you.”

Jackson averaged 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals in six tournament games and was believed to have raised his draft stock significantly, although questions remain about his outside shooting. He took part in the draft combine and went through individual workouts with several teams, including the Hawks, Celtics, Nets, Pacers and Trail Blazers, according to Wojnarowski.

Dozens of draft decisions were announced Wednesday ahead of the 11:59 pm EDT deadline to return to school without losing eligibility. Most late deciders opted to pull out of the draft, but a few prominent names will remain in the pool. They are:

National Player of the Year Zach Edey will withdraw from the draft and return to Purdue for another year, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN. The 7’4″ center averaged 22.9 points and 12.9 rebounds as a junior while shooting 60.7% from the field. Even so, his draft status wasn’t certain as he’s No. 47 in the ESPN rankings.

Another prominent player pulling out of the draft is Virginia’s Reece Beekman, the ACC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Givony reports. Beekman hopes to boost his draft stock for 2024 after coming in at 43rd in ESPN’s rankings. “I’ve decided to go back to UVA to work towards being a first-round draft pick next year and finish my degree,” he said.

Here are some more players who decided late Wednesday to take their names out of the draft:

Kansas’ Jalen Wilson Among Draft’s Latest Early Entrants

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson has declared for the 2023 NBA draft, he announced on social media (Twitter video link). Wilson didn’t say anything about maintaining his eligibility, so we’re assuming he plans to stay in the draft and hire an agent.

Wilson was a redshirt junior, so he technically had two years of college eligibility left. However, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year is a projected second-round pick, currently No. 51 on ESPN’s big board, and clearly he likes his chances of making it to the NBA.

Wilson, who helped the Jayhawks win a national championship in 2022, led the team in scoring (20.1 PPG) and rebounding (8.3 RPG) during his standout junior season, in which he was also named first-team All-American. Kansas was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but fell in the second round to Arkansas.

The 22-year-old joins teammate Gradey Dick — a potential lottery pick — as Jayhawks who have declared for the draft.

Here are a few more college players who are entering the draft:

  • Oklahoma guard Grant Sherfield, who had previous stops at Wichita State and Nevada, has declared for the draft (Instagram link). As with Wilson, Sherfield didn’t say anything about maintaining his eligibility (he had one year left due to COVID), so we’re assuming he’s going pro. As a senior for the Sooners, Sherfield averaged 15.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists on .403/.394/.863 shooting in 32 games (33.7 minutes per contest).
  • UC-Davis guard Elijah Pepper, who earned All-Big West honors each of the past three seasons, is entering his name in the draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he announced on Twitter. Pepper had a productive senior season for the Aggies, averaging 22.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals on .449/.322/.816 shooting in 31 games (35.5 minutes).
  • Tulane’s Sion James, a junior guard, is also testing the draft waters while maintaining his eligibility, he announced via Instagram. James put up 9.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals on .483/.317/.710 shooting in 31 games (37.1 minutes) for the Green Wave in 2022/23.