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Any BIG EAST Surprise Returns as NBA Draft Deadline Looms?

Unlikely, but then again...logic means nothing in 2020

Big East Logo Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the NCAA’s deadline for players making a final decision about whether they wish to remain eligible for the draft or return to school; the NBA’s actual deadline to declare for the draft isn’t for another two weeks. This post will be somewhat like the weather report, in that we have a good idea of what’s expected to happen but details posted herein may have been proven wholly inaccurate by the end of the day.

With the NCAA’s updated rules regarding eligibility retention for underclassmen who declare for the draft to “test the waters” with NBA scouts and later elect to return to their universities, the number of players who declare their intention to enter the draft has grown. They wisely value the opportunity to get feedback from a certified agent and a reality check from NBA scouts as they look to improve their game. With this change comes the annual will-they-or-won’t-they dance when the withdrawal deadline approaches.

This year is especially unusual (...what an understatement...), and this week has brought a flurry of announcements from big-name prospects who are sticking with their college programs and making for some formidable lineups. While we are not expecting any such surprises within the BIG EAST, the whole thing about surprises is that they cease to exist if you see them coming.

Sandro Mamukelashvili announced during a live interview with John Fanta that he would be remaining with Seton Hall, LJ Figueroa is coming back (but not to St. John’s, since he entered the transfer portal?), and a pair of Creighton players — Damien Jefferson and Denzel Mahoney — who tested the waters have chosen to return to school as well. At this point in our human existence, the phrase “return to school” should be taken to mean “continue to remain enrolled at their undergraduate institution,” because different schools will have different policies regarding students’ physical presence on campus in light of COVID-19 risk.

Which BIG EAST players who made an early declaration still have their names in the draft?

  • Butler - Jordan Tucker (Junior)
  • Creighton - Ty-Shon Alexander (Junior)
  • DePaul - Paul Reed Jr. (Junior)
  • Marquette - Brendan Bailey (Sophomore)
  • Villanova - Saddiq Bey (Sophomore)
  • Xavier - Naji Marshall (Junior)

Of this group, Tucker and Alexander have explicitly stated that they plan to remain in the draft pool and leave college hoops behind. Bey, Reed, and Marshall will do the same. Bailey’s decision was a bit more of a surprise, as Anonymous Eagle discussed, but it did not seem to be up for discussion.

Among your Georgetown Hoyas, Omer Yurtseven declared for the draft as well, and is on the list to be eligible to receive an invite to the combine if it happens.