Top prospects who may withdraw from 2020 NBA Draft, return to NCAA

Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza

Top prospects who may withdraw from 2020 NBA Draft, return to NCAA

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Top prospects who may withdraw from 2020 NBA Draft, return to NCAA

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College basketball players will officially have until August 3 to decide whether or not they want to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft.

There are several prospects in the NCAA “testing the waters” who now have less than two weeks to withdraw and remove their name from the draft. Those who do not will then forego their remaining college basketball eligibility, beginning their professional careers for draft consideration.

Jeff Goodman recently reported on those who are making such deliberation (via Stadium):

“They are all worried that if they withdraw from the draft, and then the season is canceled, they won’t have many options. They can go to Europe, but who knows what opportunities will exist overseas, not to mention the safety risks that go along with those jobs. Would pushing the Aug. 3 deadline back a few weeks allow them to make the best decision? Maybe not, but it certainly can’t hurt. By then, they’ll know whether there were any hiccups with the pro sports leagues, and more importantly, they’ll be able to see whether college football is able to get off the ground. And for those coaches saying that they need to know sooner rather than later, the bottom line is they aren’t getting any players — whether it’s in early August or early September — that will be able to help, anyway.”

We examined those who will have the hardest decisions to make in this regard. Their choices will change not only the scope of the 2020 NBA draft but also the identity of college basketball in 2020-21.

There are some players who classified as testing the waters when they declared for the draft but were not included on this list because we can confidently predict they are remaining. Chris Smith (UCLA) and Saben Lee (Vanderbilt) both fit those qualifications.

Note that Tyrell Terry (Stanford) has signed with an agent who is NCAA certified. While this means that he’s eligible to return to college, our latest intel suggests that there is enough interest from NBA teams to stay in this class as well.

Xavier Tillman Sr., Michigan St.

Feb 25, 2020; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Xavier Tillman (23) brings the ball up court during the second half a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Breslin Center.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-8

STATS: 13.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.1 bpg, 55.0 FG%

Tillman recently made headlines when ESPN’s Dick Vitale said that the frontcourt star will withdraw from the 2020 NBA draft. Tillman, in a post that has since been deleted, tweeted a response that should make fans a bit skeptical of the report. While he is an advanced playmaker for his position, he is a bit of a throwback big considering he does not have much prowess to stretch the floor. If he returns, consider him a candidate to be the best senior in the nation.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine. This means that there is legitimate interest from teams to learn more about him before the draft.

Jared Butler, Baylor

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - JANUARY 07: Guard Jared Butler #12 of the Baylor Bears handles the ball against guard Terrence Shannon #1 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the first half of the college basketball game on January 07, 2020 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Sophomore, 6-foot-3

STATS: 16.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.6 spg, 42.1 FG%, 38.1 3P%

The Baylor guard is an underrated 3-and-D prospect with great handles who helped Baylor become one of the nation’s top teams in 2019-20. The Louisiana native made 2.6 shots per game from beyond the arc and was prolific when shooting off the catch, off the dribble, off screens and on dribble handoffs. Butler recently told Stadium: “The fact is we don’t know if we’re going to have a college season … It’s scary to have to make such a huge decision like this.”

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine. For a full interview with Butler on HoopsHype, click here.

Isaiah Joe, Arkansas

Dec 29, 2019; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Isaiah Joe (1) shoots the ball in the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit:

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-5

STATS: 16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 36.7 FG%, 34.2 3P%

Joe had an incredibly promising freshman campaign, breaking the program record for most 3-pointers in a season while also shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. That dropped to 34.2 percent as a sophomore but he was still one of the most versatile shot creators in the NCAA. While he is still taking interviews with NBA teams, he is currently in Arkansas and participating in voluntary team workouts.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Feb 27, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) goes to the basket against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-5

STATS: 16.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 48.4 FG%, 29.6 3P%

Dosunmu is a promising prospect who can play on-ball or off-ball as a combo guard. But after shooting 35.2 percent from long distance in his freshman campaign, his numbers dropped to 29.6 percent as a sophomore. Still, last month, he told reporters that he was “pretty much” focused on turning pro, saying that it was his “expectation” to be on an NBA roster in 2020-21. But considering he has not yet hired an agent, it is still possible that he returns to Illinois.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine. For a full interview with Dosunmu on HoopsHype, click here.

Aaron Henry, Michigan State

Michigan State forward Aaron Henry celebrates during the 80-69 win against Ohio State on Sunday, March 8, 2020 at the Breslin Center. Michigan State

© Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Sophomore, 6-foot-6

STATS: 10.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 44.1 FG%, 34.4 3P%

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo recently told reporters last month that both Tillman and Aaron Henry are with the team in East Lansing. Henry has hired an agent that has NCAA certification. So even though he does have representation, thanks to the new legislation, he maintains eligibility to return to college and continue to develop his game. According to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke to HoopsHype on the condition of anonymity, he has not yet made up his mind on where he will play next season and the decision may come down to the final stretch.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga

Feb 29, 2020; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi (11) celebrates a three-pointer against the St. Mary's Gaels in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs won 86-76.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-5

STATS: 10.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 48.3 FG%, 34.5 3P%

This lengthy guard has a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has been a Swiss army knife for Gonzaga. Ayayi was a stat-sheet stuffer with 13.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes. While there are some serious concerns about his shooting form, he has been fairly effective. He has the playmaking skills to lead his team in assists next season as a veteran on his squad. When asked for an update about his decision, Ayayi declined to comment.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

John Petty, Alabama

Feb 22, 2020; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard John Petty Jr. (23) dunks during the first half against the Mississippi Rebels at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Mandatory Credit:

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-5

STATS: 14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 46.2 FG%, 44.0 3P%  

Most scouts were focused on potential lottery pick Kira Lewis Jr. when they watched Alabama in 2019-20. But many were delighted the shooting prowess from Petty. The junior averaged 1.48 points per possession off the catch in a set offense, per Synergy, which ranked 98th percentile in the NCAA. Petty is reportedly interested in staying in the draft is he gets a “guarantee” with the first 40-45 picks. Regardless, he will be a coveted shooter whether he enters the draft this year or next.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Trendon Watford, Louisiana State

Feb 26, 2020; Gainesville, Florida, USA;LSU Tigers forward Trendon Watford (2) reacts after being fouled against the Florida Gators during the first half at Exactech Arena.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman, 6-foot-9

STATS: 13.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg, 48.9 FG%

LSU head coach Will Wade has more notable players testing the waters than he would like. Ideally, the program would have more certainty about the state of what its roster will look like next season. Watford, a top-20 recruit heading into his freshman campaign, is the youngest of this group. His first collegiate season was a bit disappointing, but now that senior Skylar Mays elapsed his NCAA eligibility, the forward would likely take over as the leading scorer if he decides to return as a sophomore. Watford would be wise to try to increase his draft stock closer to the first-round talent that he was projected as before the season.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Yves Pons, Tennessee

Mar 7, 2020; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Yves Pons (35) brings the ball up court against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-6

STATS: 10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 2.4 bpg, 48.9 FG%, 34.9 3P%   

While a defensive-minded prospect, he is a bit undersized for his position. His block percentage (7.7 percent) ranked as the best in the NCAA among players 6-foot-6 or shorter. He would be an incredibly valuable veteran for a team that is otherwise filled with young talents in the backcourt like Josiah Jordan-James, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. If he can improve his shooting during a final year of college basketball, he will have a much higher ceiling. Pons is another prospect who is working with an NCAA-certified agent, which means he can still return to college basketball.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

Jan 30, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (53) during the first half against the Santa Clara Broncos at Leavey Center. Mandatory Credit:

Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-7

STATS: 13.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 47.4 FG%, 43.8 3P%  

Among all players included on this list, Kispert has the skill set that is arguably most translatable to the modern NBA. He has a stellar jumper, capable of connecting both off the catch and off the bounce. He has been fantastic on dribble handoffs and moderately successful off screens as well. Kispert also has a decent amount of experience as a secondary ballhandler in pick-and-roll sets, which is unique for someone who is 6-foot-7. Kispert has a tough choice because there is little left for him to prove. It will be up to if he wants to start his professional career or be a star at Gonzaga and contend for a title playing under Mark Few.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

CJ Elleby, Washington State

Feb 28, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars forward CJ Elleby (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Washington Huskies during the second half at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-6

STATS: 18.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 39.6 FG%, 33.9 3P%  

Elleby was remarkably productive as someone who constantly filled it up for Washington State. He recorded the most field goal attempts, three-point attempts and steals among all players in the Pac-12. But this was also a product of the sophomore recording the second-highest usage rate (27.9 percent) among all underclassmen in the conference. Without an identifiable elite skill, it is hard to see his fit at the next level considering he will have the ball in his hands far less often.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine. 

Luka Garza, Iowa

Iowa center Luka Garza (55) dunks during a NCAA Big Ten Conference mens basketball game against Penn State, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. 200227 Penn St Iowa Mbb 046 Jpg

© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Junior, 6-foot-11

STATS: 23.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.8 bpg, 54.2 FG%, 35.8 3P%

Iowa had one of the best college basketball players in the nation in Garza. Next season, the program will see rising junior Joe Wieskamp return to the team. If they also get Garza back in the mix, they can have one of the most exciting offenses in the nation. Garza led college basketball in offensive box plus-minus in 2019-20. While his style of play may not be what many teams in the NBA are looking for, he has come to a fork in the road. He can strike while the iron is hot after a sensation junior campaign. Or he can return as one of the leading options in the NCAA. His upside as a pro will likely not change much either way.

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Darius Days, Lousiana State

Feb 11, 2020; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers forward Darius Days (0) dribbles against Missouri Tigers forward Tray Jackson (2) during the first half at Maravich Assembly Center.

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-6

STATS: 11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 48.6 FG%, 29.5 3P% 

Days shot a dominant 75.3 percent from within five feet of the basket despite playing as an undersized center. His offensive rebound percentage (12.5 percent) ranked in the nation’s Top 5 among all players 6-foot-6 or shorter. His offensive rating (124.5) was fourth-best among high-major underclassmen. But what, exactly, can he be for an NBA team at the next level? Days has hired an agent who is NCAA certified. Despite having representation, he can still return for another year of college basketball. He currently seems more likely to return to LSU than remain in this draft class.

NOTE: He is not one of the 105 prospects who may receive an invite to the 2020 NBA Draft Combine, which suggests teams may assume he will return to school.

Matt Mitchell, San Diego St.

Feb 11, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs forward Matt Mitchell (11) dribbles during the second half against the New Mexico Lobos at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit:

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-6

STATS: 12.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.1 spg, 46.8 FG%, 39.3 3P%

San Diego State recorded 30 wins and just two losses during 2019-20, finishing No. 6 overall via ratings on KenPom. While their star was junior guard Malachi Flynn, who is a borderline first-rounder in 2020, Mitchell was another exciting prospect. He was a phenomenal shooter off the catch who occasionally produced highlights as a ballhandler pushing the break in transition. Mitchell, whose draft stock has recently been improving among analysts, has said that he is not “looking to leave” SDSU for the NBA and thinks he would need in-person workouts to get drafted. As such, expect him to return for his senior campaign.

NOTE: He is not one of the 105 prospects who may receive an invite to the 2020 NBA Draft Combine.

Colbey Ross, Pepperdine

Feb 17, 2018; Spokane, WA, USA; Pepperdine Waves guard Colbey Ross (4) passes the basketball against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Zach Norvell Jr. (23) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs won 81-76. Mandatory Credit:

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-1

STATS: 20.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 40.2 FG%, 34.9 3P% 

After a phenomenal junior campaign, Ross can be an early favorite for NCAA Player of the Year if he decides to return for his senior year. He is a rare candidate capable of leading college basketball in both points as well as assists next season. He still needs to add weight before playing against NBA defenders. But getting the experience of the draft process as a junior will help him before he has to fully declare in 2021.

NOTE: He is not one of the 105 prospects who may receive an invite to the 2020 NBA Draft Combine.

Jalen Crutcher, Dayton

Feb 25, 2020; Fairfax, Virginia, USA; Dayton Flyers guard Jalen Crutcher (10) shoots as George Mason Patriots forward AJ Wilson (12) looks on during the first half at EagleBank Arena.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-1

STATS: 15.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 46.8 FG%, 42.4 3P%

Dayton had the best player in college basketball on their roster with Obi Toppin. But the man who was setting him up was his point guard, who was named First Team All-Atlantic 10. His team had the second-best offense in college basketball, per KenPom. He was dominant in the pick-and-roll and also averaged 1.24 points per possession on jump shots in a set offense, via Synergy, which ranked 97th percentile. But multiple scouts told The Athletic that he could benefit from another year in school because he is still young at just 20 years old.

NOTE: He is not one of the 105 prospects who may receive an invite to the 2020 NBA Draft Combine.

AJ Lawson, South Carolina

Feb 5, 2020; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard AJ Lawson (00) shoots during the first half against the Mississippi Rebels at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore, 6-foot-6

STATS: 13.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 41.4 FG%, 33.9 3P%

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois 

Feb 2, 2020; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) in action against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman, 7-foot

STATS: 13.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.4 bpg, 53.2 FG%

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall

Feb 19, 2020; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Seton Hall Pirates forward Sandro Mamukelashvili (23) reacts after scoring a three point basket during the second half against the Butler Bulldogs at Prudential Center.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Junior, 6-foot-11

STATS: 11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.6 bpg, 54.0 GF%, 43.4 3P%

NOTE: He was one of the 105 players who received the most votes to be invited to the NBA Combine.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Jay Huff, Virginia 

Javonte Smart, Louisiana State

McKinley Wright, Colorado

MaCio Teague, Baylor 

Ethan Thompson, Oregon State

Keith Williams, Cincinnati

DJ Funderburk, North Carolina St.

Marcus Carr, Minnesota

OTHER NAMES TO KNOW

AJ Green, Northern Iowa

Jordan Tucker, Butler

Mitchell Smith, Missouri

Milan Acquaah, California Baptist

Dexter Dennis, Wichita State

Ryan Daly, St. Joseph’s

Matt Lewis, James Madison

Damien Jefferson, Creighton

Denzel Mahoney, Creighton

Zach Cooks, NJIT

Nate Darling, Delaware

Manny Camper, Siena

Obadiah Noel, Massachusetts-Lowell

Marcus Burk, IUPUI

Justin Thomas, Morehead State

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