Alabama, Gonzaga stars headline the final tapings of the NBA Draft

Mark Sears from Alabama is withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft and will return to play for the Crimson Tide after helping his team to the Final Four this past season, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports.

Coming in at No. 80 on ESPN’s best available board, Sears was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2023-2024. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 21.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 50.8% from the field, 43.6% from three and 85.7% from the free-throw line.

“I got good feedback from the NBA,” Sears said, according to Givony. “But I can still improve in a few areas. I want to show next season that I am a dog on defense, continue to provide vocal leadership and work on my body and get in better shape. NIL changed basketball and NBA teams told me age is not a factor in today’s game, so I felt comfortable coming back to try to bring home a national championship to Alabama.

Michael Ajayi, who transferred from Pepperdine to Gonzaga, also withdrew from the draft, according to Givony. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 17.2 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 47.0% from beyond the arc. He made the All-WCC First Team his freshman year at Pepperdine.

Ajayi is ranked No. 75 on ESPN’s top draft picks, and according to Givony, he will be “closely watched” as a senior after earning some fans during the pre-draft process.

Both Sears and Ajayi participated in the 2024 NBA Combine.

Find more of the latest design decisions here early entrants ahead of Wednesday night’s NCAA admissions deadline:

Withdrawal from the draft:

  • Ole Miss guard Matthew Murrell returns to the Rebels for his super-senior season after averaging 16.2 points last season, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Murrell is No. 77 on ESPN’s best available.
  • Wooga Poplar, who comes from Miami, returns to school. According to Rothstein, he will visit Oregon next week. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in his junior season after helping Miami reach the Final Four the year before.

  • Princeton guard Xaivian Lee will return to school for his junior season, according to Givony. He averaged 17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists en route to a first-team All-Ivy League nod.
  • Former Campbell guard According to Givony, Anthony Dell’Orso will transfer to Arizona for his junior season. He averaged 19.5 points and shot 38.0% from three.
  • Malik Dia is transferring from Belmont to Ole Miss, via Rothstein, for his junior season. He averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds last season after starting his collegiate career at Vanderbilt.

  • Jalon Moore returns to Oklahoma for his senior season via Rothstein. Moore started his career at Georgia Tech before playing his junior season at Oklahoma.

  • In case you missed it, Arizona guard Caleb Love withdraws from the draft before his super-senior season with the Wildcats.

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