TJ Bamba

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: Ware, Bamba, Nolley, Top Prospects, More

Oregon center Kel’el Ware has decided to transfer to a new school and does not intend to enter the 2023 NBA Draft, he tells Travis Branham of

Ware, who averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on .457/.273/.712 shooting in 35 games (15.8 MPG) as a freshman for the Ducks, is a former top high school recruit and is currently ranked No. 35 on ESPN’s big board.

While Ware was a projected second-round pick, Jonathan Givony of ESPN says (via Twitter) “there were real concerns” about the big man’s chances of getting drafted.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

  • Washington State’s TJ Bamba has decided to test the draft waters. He’s entering the draft while maintaining his college eligibility and will also enter the transfer portal, he announced on Twitter. The junior guard averaged 15.8 points and 3.7 rebounds on .426/.372/.730 shooting in 31 games for the Cougars (32.2 MPG) in 2022/23.
  • Cincinnati guard/forward Landers Nolley will declare for the draft, he tells Givony (Twitter link). According to his own announcement (via Twitter), Nolley will maintain his college eligibility, so he won’t be hiring an agent just yet. Nolley, who has one year of eligibility left after previous stops at Virginia Tech and Memphis, averaged a team-high 16.8 points along with 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steal on .447/.417/.750 shooting in 36 games (32.1 MPG) for the Bearcats this season.
  • Which top draft prospects boosted their stock in the NCAA tournament? Givony tackles that subject in a story for ESPN (Insider link). Jordan Hawkins (No. 15 on ESPN’s big board) and Andre Jackson (No. 39) may hear their names called earlier by helping UConn advance to the Final Four.
  • The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor released a new mock draft last week. One surprising pick in his mock is Tennessee forward Julian Phillips, who is ranked No. 56 by ESPN. O’Connor has the freshman going No. 29 to the Pacers.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report examines what scouts are looking to see from five potential NBA prospects in the Final Four. Miami’s Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller have a chance to help themselves once again as they face off against UConn, according to Wasserman.