- NBA draft entrants who are underclassmen have until May 29 to announce whether or not they'll return to school. We break down the most intriguing remaining decisions.
With the NBA combine and G League Elite Camp having wrapped up and the NCAA’s May 29 decision deadline approaching, where do the top undecided underclassmen stand? Here’s a quick look at their individual situations, and what their teams stand to gain or lose next season as a result.
Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, Kansas
As Kansas continues its pursuit of uncommitted R.J. Hampton and Michigan decommit Jalen Wilson, the fate of last year’s backcourt remains up in the air. Dotson and Grimes each had positive moments at the combine, but it’s unclear if either moved the needle enough to solidify anything. Both are more likely looking at second-round selections, and will benefit from some G League time if they turn pro now. It's still possible Dotson returns to Kansas, although he’s thought to be undecided at this point. Some think transferring could be on the table for Grimes, although his situation also remains up in the air.
Nic Claxton, Georgia
Claxton’s decision is especially intriguing within the context of Tom Crean’s rebuild at Georgia, with a strong incoming class headlined by Anthony Edwards igniting hopes of an NCAA tournament-caliber team. The 6’11” rising junior is a big part of that, but after a strong performance at the combine, a first-round selection is firmly in play as he continues team workouts going into the deadline. Claxton hasn’t made up his mind yet, but it may be hard for him to pass up the draft if his stock continues holding strong.
Jordan Nwora, Louisville
Nwora skipped five-on-five at the combine due to an injury, missing the opportunity to leave a strong impression. Teams are well aware of his capabilities, and his shooting stroke and offensive skill level at his size give him a chance to be a very useful role player at some point. He’s probably looking at the early second round if he turns pro, with a selection in the 20s not out of the question. It seems likely some type of guarantee would keep him in the draft. If he returns, Louisville’s ceiling for next season will be pretty promising.
Killian Tillie, Gonzaga
Word among teams at the combine was that Tillie withdrew from the event because of an injury he suffered during a workout in early May. That’s certainly poor timing, and given his history of health issues and a stunted junior season in which he played in just 15 games, he might be best situated to return for his senior year and try again. Gonzaga would certainly love to have him back given what it's already losing, and a complete season can re-establish Tillie as a potential NBA specialist.
Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
Roby’s combine showing was uneven but positive overall, with a higher-energy, aggressive showing on the second day that showcased his tools. He’s thought to be on the fence as far as returning to Nebraska is concerned, and there’s a school of thought that he’d be better off developing in a better on-court situation next season, be it in the G League or on an NBA bench. Fred Hoiberg would certainly like him back as he begins his tenure in Lincoln, but at some point, Roby needs to start putting it all together. No matter where he plays next season, it’ll be a big year for his development.
Neemias Queta, Utah State
(Update: Queta has announced he will return to Utah State)
There’s a school of thought that Queta could really benefit from turning pro, getting into an NBA strength program and gaining experience in the G League. He’s had a unique trajectory coming from Portugal to Utah State, and if he decides to return to a strong Aggies team, they should be the clear Mountain West favorites. With his tools and improving skill level, Queta could break out as a sophomore.
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
If Powell is back, Seton Hall has a good case as a Top 25 team to start the season. Based on his showing at the G League Elite Camp, he might be better off returning, hoping to put together the type of season teams can’t ignore. Powell is a talented scorer, but because of his size and athletic limitations it’s unlikely he’s drafted at the moment. He could compete with Markus Howard for Big East Player of the Year honors out of the gate if he stays.
Mamadi Diakite, Virginia
Objectively, Diakite needs to come back, unless he wants to spend next season in the G League or overseas. He was somewhat underwhelming at G League Elite Camp, and is the type of player who’s much more valuable to a college system like Virginia’s than to an NBA team, noting that he’s already 22 years old and still rather raw offensively.
Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams and Marlon Taylor, LSU
Javonte Smart’s return should be meaningful for LSU, which is losing Naz Reid and Tremont Waters but adding five-star forward Trendon Watford. None of the remaining trio stands to be drafted; all should theoretically be back on campus. The Tigers could challenge in the SEC again.
Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
It’s unclear whether Bassey will be back, but he’s probably looking at a second-round selection if he turns pro. If he stays, Western Kentucky has a chance to be a tournament team.
Andrew Nembhard, Florida
Nembhard will likely need to return to Florida, where he’d be part of a strong Gators team next season. NBA scouts haven’t seen enough from him in terms of scoring the ball, although his playmaking skills and size are appealing. He’s someone who can actually help his stock by going back and polishing up his game, and has a good chance to play in the league at some point.
Reggie Perry, Mississippi State
Although Perry piqued the interest of teams and played his way into the combine, he’s far from NBA-ready and doesn’t have a ton of security as far as the draft goes right now. If he stays for his sophomore year, he could be in for a big leap in production. His decision might be a swing factor for the Bulldogs’ eventual fate.
E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards, Kentucky
Neither Montgomery nor Richards earned an invitation to the G League Elite camp, and NBA teams need to see more from them. Staying in college seems prudent.
A.J. Lawson, South Carolina
Lawson turned down an invite to G League Elite Camp, an event that would have been an important platform if he wanted to turn pro this year. It would make sense that he’d be back for his sophomore year.
Simi Shittu, Vanderbilt
(Update: Shittu announced Friday that he will stay in the draft)
Most scouts agreed that Shittu had one of the roughest weeks of anyone at the combine, and that he’d be better off returning to develop under Jerry Stackhouse. Right now, it would be a surprise if he’s drafted.
Payton Pritchard, Oregon
Pritchard seemed to be testing the waters out of diligence, and should probably be back on campus to lead the Ducks again.