Once again Jaylen Nowell said goodbye to the Washington Huskies and reaffirmed that he’s committed to staying in the NBA draft and turning pro.
“Having decided to keep my name in the NBA Draft, I want to make sure Husky Nation knows how much I’ve appreciated their support and encouragement during my career at UW,” Nowell said in a statement released by the school. “From the Dawg Pack to the entire UW staff and coaches that have helped me along the way, I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you guys.
“You have all helped me achieve my dreams and best believe, I’m a Husky for Life, there’s no changing that. I can’t wait to see what this program continues to do.”
On March 31, Nowell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, initially announced he was entering the NBA draft and forgoing the final two years of college eligibility.
His most recent announcement closes the door on his UW career.
There had been some confusion regarding the deadline for when underclassmen can return to their college teams. The NCAA stated that players need to withdraw from the draft before its 11:59 p.m. ET deadline on Wednesday to retain eligibility.
However, a recent NCAA rule also stated: “College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.”
The NBA draft is June 20.
However, a NCAA spokesperson confirmed that the post-draft rule change is not yet effective.
Which brings us back to the original May 29 deadline and explains why Nowell felt the need to make it clear that he’s staying in the draft.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Jaylen for what he accomplished at UW,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins wrote on his Twitter account. “Starting this journey as a 17-year-old freshman, believing in our staff and seeing his development on and off the court while he was here, it has truly been a privilege to coach him.
“Excited to see @JaylenNowell enter his name into NBA draft and watch his career continue. As I keep saying, ‘He is gonna make his new coach very happy.’ Jay knows though, once a DAWG, always a DAWG and his family is behind him 100 percent!”
Nowell averaged 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals this season while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 44.0 percent on three-pointers.
The former Garfield High star won the Pac-12 player of the year award and joined Brandon Roy (2006) and Chris Welp (1986) as the only UW players to receive the award.
Nowell led the Huskies in scoring the past two seasons and became the quickest player in UW history to reach 600, 700, 800 and 1,000 points. He ranks 31st on the school’s all-time scoring list and was on pace to break the record of 2,073 points held by Welp.
Following his participation at last month’s NBA combine, Nowell is tabbed as second-round pick, according to several mock drafts.
NBAdraft.net projects he’ll be taken at No. 40 overall by the Sacramento Kings and NBAdraftroom.com has him going to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 44.
Meanwhile, CBS sports ranks Nowell 65th among its top 130 draft prospects and ESPN has him at No. 92 on a list of 100.
Nowell’s departure affirms Washington will lose four starters, five of its top six scorers and 81 percent of its scoring from a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season championship and finished 27-9 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore guard Nahziah Carter, who averaged 8.1 points, is the top returning scorer. Sophomore forward Hameir Wright, who averaged 2.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, is the lone returning starter.
The Huskies are expected to reload with a top-10 recruiting class led by five-star prospects Isaiah Stewart and Federal Way’s Jaden McDaniels. The 2019 recruiting class also includes four-star shooting guard RaeQuan Battle and three-star combo guard Marcus Tsohonis.
Washington also adds sophomore point guard Quade Green, a Kentucky transfer and former five-star prospect, who becomes eligible in January.
Currently, the Huskies are expected to 12 players on scholarship, which is one fewer than the NCAA limit.
Hopkins said last week that he was reserving a spot for Nowell and wasn’t sure if the team would use it if UW star remained in the NBA draft.