Warith Alatishe

And-Ones: In-Season Tournament, Cole, Alatishe, 2023 FAs

More details have emerged about a possible in-season tournament. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the proposed tournament would run through November, with eight teams advancing to a single-elimination round in December. All of the games would be part of the regular season schedule, with one extra game for the two finalists.

The tournament has yet to be finalized, but it could be implemented as soon as the 2023/24 season if the NBA and the Players Association agree to it, per Charania. The eight teams that advance would receive to-be-determined prizes, Charania adds.

Charania previously reported that the “Final Four” of the tournament would be held at a neutral site; it’s unclear if that’s still part of the framework. Commissioner Adam Silver has long been a proponent of an in-season tournament.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA veteran Norris Cole hit a game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds left to lift Team USA past Puerto Rico at the AmeriCup on Thursday, according to an Associated Press report. “I just wanted to make a play for the team,” said Cole, who had the final eight points for the U.S. “The team trusted me, drew up a play for me to catch it and I was able to make a play. Moments like that, everybody dreams about, but I work hard at my individual game along with the team game, I was able to show my individual talent within the team concept, and it worked out.” The Americans won the quarterfinal by a score of 85-84, with Cole recording a game-high 20 points. Team USA will face Argentina in the semifinal on Saturday, with the medal-round games on Sunday, per the AP. The other semifinal features Brazil vs. Canada.
  • Oregon State forward Warith Alatishe won’t return for a “super-senior” year in 2022/23 and plans to pursue a professional career instead, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Alatishe spent his first two seasons at Nicholls State prior to transferring to Oregon State. He averaged 9.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG and 1.1 BPG over the past two seasons with the Beavers.
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac recently released his list of the top 50 potential 2023 free agents. No. 1 on his list? Sixers guard James Harden, followed by Nets guard Kyrie Irving. Rounding out Smith’s top 50 is Spurs wing Josh Richardson.

Draft Decisions: Agbaji, Cockburn, Dickinson, Wong, More

Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji has decided to withdraw from the 2021 NBA draft and will return to school for his senior year, a source tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Agbaji, who was the No. 67 prospect on ESPN’s big board, averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game for the Jayhawks last year, knocking down 37.7% of his three-point attempts in 30 games (33.7 MPG). Agbaji projected as a potential second-round pick, according to Givony, who refers to him as one of the best defenders at the NCAA level.

The NCAA’s withdrawal deadline for early entrants in this year’s draft is on Wednesday, so there are plenty of other prospects making decisions on their future today. Here are a few of the other early entrants who are pulling out of the draft and returning to school:

While a number of prospects are removing their names from the 2021 draft pool, some early entrants have made the decision to go pro. UCLA’s Chris Smith is one, posting a farewell message to Bruins fans on Instagram. Sources tell Rothstein (Twitter link) that Saint Louis forward Hasahn French is also going pro rather than returning to college.

Draft Notes: Edwards, Alatishe, Cunningham, Mobley, More

Pepperdine junior forward Kessler Edwards has decided to enter his name into the 2021 NBA draft pool, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. While Edwards is maintaining his college eligibility for now, he expects to ultimately keep his name in the draft.

“I don’t think there’s a number in particular that I need to stay in the draft,” he told ESPN. “I’m hoping to receive interest from multiple teams and assurances that I would getting a solid deal and not end up being a free agent that no one picks up. I’m planning on going pro, going through this thing. I feel like most of these teams haven’t seen me in person and the work I’m doing getting ready in terms of my body, measurements and how I play on the court.”

Edwards, who is the No. 48 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, has an intriguing combination of size, defensive versatility, and outside shooting that appeals to NBA teams, says Givony. In 27 games (33.9 MPG) in 2020/21, Edwards averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .491/.378/.876 shooting.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Oregon State junior forward Warith Alatishe has decided to test the draft waters, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). The MVP of this year’s Pac-12 tournament, Alatishe averaged 9.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 33 games (27.4 MPG) for the Beavers in 2020/21.
  • Even though Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs had more memorable runs in the NCAA tournament, scouts and evaluators still widely view Cade Cunningham as this year’s probable No. 1 pick, writes Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Mobley, Suggs, and Jalen Green are very likely to be the next three players off the board, though there’s still no consensus on the order, according to Wasserman, who says Mobley may have the slight edge at No. 2.
  • Within the same story, Wasserman examines the mixed opinions that evaluators have about a handful of draft prospects, including Davion Mitchell, Josh Christopher, and Cameron Thomas. He also suggests that Florida State forward RaiQuan Gray is a potential riser to watch during the pre-draft process, adding that Gray looks like a top-40 pick.