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2021 NBA Draft: Five prospects still facing stay-or-go decisions as withdrawal deadline looms ahead

The NCAA withdrawal deadline for underclassmen going through the NBA’s pre-draft process is set for July 7. And with the NBA Draft Combine wrapping up last week, stay-or-go announcements are slowly trickling in as players stare down their final decisions at the end of the process.

While many have already sprung into action in the aftermath of the college basketball season and in the months since by either going two toes in with the draft or returning to college, some on-the-fencers are still holding out until the final hour, leaving us with last-minute drama that will affect the complexion of both the 2021 draft and the 2021-22 college hoops season.

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at those players and make a few predictions on their status.

1. Miles McBride | West Virginia 

Prediction: Stays in the draft

Coming off a second-year star turn at West Virginia, Miles “Deuce” McBride left a big impression at the NBA Draft Combine. It wasn’t just his offensive creation that popped at the event like it did last season, either. He was impactful defensively as an on-ball pressure point. He was also helped significantly with a measured 6’8.75″ wingspan that should — and likely will — ease some concerns about measuring in at 6-foot-1 without shoes. McBride has steadily risen throughout the process, and if he keeps his name in the draft, he could find himself in the mid-to-late first-round discussion.

2. Marcus Bagley | Arizona State

Prediction: Stays in the draft

Teams have been itching to see more from Bagley after an injury allowed him to play in only one game after the calendar turned to February this year. And not participating in the combine certainly didn’t do himself any favors. But, ultimately, he measured 6-foot-6 without shoes, had a wingspan an inch shy of 7 feet and shot nearly 35% from 3 as a freshman. That combination of length and shooting from the wing position is invaluable in the NBA, so much so that all those factors working against him might still land him in range to get a guaranteed deal if he stays in the draft. 

3. Johnny Juzang | UCLA 

Prediction: Returns to school

The shot-making precision and ability to master the mid-range helped Juzang lead UCLA to the Final Four as an 11 seed while he emerged as a potential first-rounder to end the season. But some of the air is out of that balloon now, as he came back to earth at the combine after going 5-of-21 shooting in two scrimmages. Now, we obviously can’t totally erase the March Madness magic from his dossier — he has NBA potential. But he looked uncomfortable at the combine and never quite found a groove. For a player already considered on the fence, it might be best to go back to college for another season and try to spearhead a resurgent Bruins team. 

4. EJ Liddell | Ohio State

Prediction: Returns to school

Duane Washington Jr. was a G League Elite Camp standout whose performance allowed him to break through to the combine, eventually leading him to decide this week that he’s keeping his name in the draft. That’s one Buckeye down. Liddell is the looming Buckeye left standing. If he returns to college, he’s the clear No. 1 next season and one of the best players in the Big Ten. Stay in the draft, and he’s likely in late second/undrafted territory. 

5. Max Abmas | Oral Roberts

Prediction: Stays in the draft

There’s nowhere to go but up for Abmas. He led the country in scoring as a sophomore last season and had a breakout performance in the NCAA Tournament for 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. That’s likely reason enough he’ll stay in the draft. But he measured just 5’10.5″ without shoes, the shortest player at the combine. Exacerbating matters, he did not do well at the combine in scrimmages, and his shooting — his big selling point — was just-OK as he capped the final scrimmage with a 2-of-10 shooting performance. He can’t prove much more at the college level, though, so unless he wants to transfer to a bigger program to do it on a bigger stage, staying in and potentially going in the second round might be the more reasonable path.




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