KU freshman Jalen Wilson to test NBA draft process while retaining college eligibility

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) watches his three from the wing drop before Creighton forward Christian Bishop (13) during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Freshman forward Jalen Wilson on Friday became the second key member of the Kansas men’s basketball team’s 2020-21 roster to announce his intentions to enter his name into the NBA draft pool.

Like teammate Ochai Agbaji, who declared for the draft on Thursday, Wilson plans to retain his college eligibility through the process.

“I am excited for the opportunity to learn, workout and receive valuable feedback on my game that will allow me to make a solid decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to the University of Kansas for my sophomore year,” Wilson wrote on Twitter, where he announced his plans.

Wilson officially referred to his plans as a move “to test the NBA draft process.”

After missing most of his true freshman season to injury, Wilson broke out as a redshirt freshman this season. Particularly early in the season, when he was called by many national college hoops analysts as one of the stories of November and December, Wilson helped the Jayhawks race out to an 8-1 start to the 2020-21 season.

He had his ups and downs from there, but remained a key part of KU’s lineup, often playing the 4 spot — and sometimes the 5 — as the Jayhawks transitioned into a team that used smaller, quicker lineups to create mismatches or matchup with their opponents.

Wilson finished the 2020-21 season as the Jayhawks’ leading rebounder at 8.2 boards per game. He also averaged 12.1 points per outing while appearing in 28 games, with 26 starts.

He was named to the 2021 Big 12 all-newcomer team and was a unanimous choice for the conference’s all-freshman squad after posting eight double-doubles in his first full season with the Jayhawks.

“Jalen had a terrific freshman year and played a critical role in our success,” KU coach Bill Self said in a news release Friday. “We knew as the season progressed there would be interest in exploring the NBA process. I fully support his decision and know that he will handle this experience properly. Like Ochai, Jalen will keep his remaining eligibility so he has the option to return based on what he learns throughout this process. This will be great for him to learn what people say about him and ways in which he can improve.”

Added Wilson in his Tweet: “I am ready to get to work and have put all things in God’s hands.”

Agbaji and Wilson both have until July to go through the pre-draft process before having to decide whether to return to KU.

Their potential departures, along with the recent transfer plans announced by freshman guard Latrell Jossell, leave Kansas with as many as three scholarships to hand out to players who remain unsigned out of high school or who have entered the transfer portal.

Whether Self elects to use all three remains to be seen, but the Jayhawks are still in the mix for a handful of high-level prospects, including prep guard Ty Ty Washington and Creighton transfer Christian Bishop.

Jalen Wilson NBA announcement


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