College players declare NBA draft intentions

Although the NBA Draft is not taking place until Thursday, June 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y., college basketball players are already declaring whether they are staying, going or testing out the NBA draft waters before deciding. 

The process moves quickly as April 23 represents the deadline for athletes to apply and June 1 serves as the last day to withdraw from the draft and uphold their college eligibility. The NBA Draft Combine will be held from May 15-21 in Chicago.

Here are some of the players who have already declared: 

National champion Adama Sanogo will depart from the University of Connecticut (UConn) as he plans to enter the NBA draft. Sanogo was with the Huskies for three seasons, playing in 91 games and starting 87. The forward averaged 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

Joining his teammate will be UConn guard Jordan Hawkins. Hawkins quickly declared for the draft, five days after the Huskies won the national championship. The guard averaged 16 points per game and made First Team All-Big East in 2022-23. 

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will lose senior forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. to the draft. Credit is given to Jaquez for helping UCLA basketball get back on the national stage with a NCAA Tournament run in the 2021 Final Four and the 2022 and 2023 Sweet 16. He averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in his last season. 

UCLA guard Jaylen Clark also will declare despite suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in early March that kept him out of the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament. He was named the Pac-12 and NABC Defensive Player of the Year. The Bruins will also lose freshman guard Amari Bailey. He started 28 of 30 games last season while also being named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. 

Alabama forward Brandon Miller will enter the draft as a top-five prospect. Photo courtesy of @brandmillerr, Instagram

Miami University senior guard and ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong will be heading to the NBA. Wong finished fourth all time on Miami’s career scoring list and walked away after leading his team to a spot in the Final Four and a share of the ACC regular season title. 

Although Villanova did not make it to the postseason, freshman forward Cam Whitmore lived up to his expectations. He won Big East Freshman of the Year honors, and he averaged 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. 

Kentucky will wave goodbye to freshman guard Cason Wallace, who is a projected lottery pick.  The point guard averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 assists and two steals in 32 minutes per game this season for the Wildcats. 

Another potential lottery pick, Baylor freshman guard Keyonte George, will say his farewells after being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, averaging 15.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists during his first season.

Kansas will lose freshman forward Gradey Dick, as he averaged 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game this season, shooting 40% from three. Alabama will no longer have freshman forward Brandon Miller after he helped the Crimson Tide claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and was named the SEC Player of the Year and was a First-Team AP All-American.

Duke will have three players enter the draft including junior guard Jeremy Roach, freshman Dereck Lively II and freshman Dariq Whitehead. Roach plans to maintain his college eligibility through the process. However, both freshmen plan on going to the NBA. Lively and Whitehead showed their individual skill sets while they helped lead Duke to the ACC title. 

A shock to the basketball world is that teammate Kyle Filipowski, Duke’s leader in scoring and rebounding, announced he will be back with the Blue Devils for the 2023-24 season. Filipowski had a tremendous freshman season and was considered a potential first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft

The No. 1 draft prospect is currently Victor Wembanyama, a center who plays for the Metropolitans 92s in France. Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, who did not play in college but signed deals to play with the NBA’s G-League Ignite, are all also entering the draft and are currently in the top 10 prospects as well. 

While the NBA teams who get the top 14 picks will not be decided until the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 16, the rest of the NBA Draft order has been determined. The Pistons, Rockets and Spurs all have equal odds to win the No. 1 pick with a 14% chance.

Featured photo courtesy of @brandmillerr, Instagram