Washington sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to remain in the NBA Draft.
Nowell initially announced his intention to enter the draft at the end of March. But despite the declaration, he still had until May 29 to officially make a choice between pursuing a professional career and returning to the Huskies for his junior season.
On the eve of that deadline, Nowell released a statement on Twitter through UW to confirm that he would be staying in the draft.
“Having decided to keep my name in the NBA Draft,” Nowell said in part, “I want to make sure Husky nation knows how much I’ve appreciated their support and encouragement during my career at UW.”
Nowell is projected as an early second-round pick by NBADraft.net, which has him going 40th overall to the Sacramento Kings. ESPN ranks Nowell as its No. 92 overall player.
Last week, head coach Mike Hopkins said the Huskies were keeping a scholarship open for Nowell but also supported his goal of playing in the NBA.
“We’re 1000 percent supportive of his dreams,” Hopkins said, “and we’re getting a lot of incredible feedback from the NBA.”
The Pac-12 Player of the Year, Nowell averaged 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a sophomore last season. He shot 50.2 percent from the field and 44.0 percent from the 3-point line. He was also named to the All-Pac-12 first team and was a three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week.
The quickest player in UW history to reach 600, 700, 800, 900 and 1,000 points, Nowell led the Huskies in scoring the past two seasons.
“He just gets in the mode of like, we can’t lose, we got to get a bucket right now,” teammate David Crisp said of Nowell before UW’s NCAA Tournament win over Utah State. “He’s so good at getting to his spots. He knows the spots he’s successful in. He gets to them. He’s done it so many times, it’s just routine now. It’s just extreme focus from him, extreme confidence. It’s taken us a long way.”
With Nowell’s departure, the Huskies will lose four starers and 80 percent of their scoring from a team that went 27-9, won the Pac-12 regular season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
UW will bring a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by two top-10, five-star recruits in forward Jaden McDaniels and center Isaiah Stewart. The Huskies will also add four-star point guard RaeQuan Battle and three-star shooting guard Marcus Tsohonis. Former five-star point guard Quade Green, a transfer from Kentucky, will be eligible at the start of the winter quarter.