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Josh Hawkinson, two other Cougs, withdraw from NBA Draft

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Ike Iroegbu, Conor Clifford also return.

NCAA Basketball: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

In news that surprised absolutely nobody, a trio of WSU players -- Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu and Conor Clifford -- have withdrawn their names from consideration for the NBA Draft and will return for their senior seasons, the school announced.

“I’m happy that Josh, Ike and Conor all had the opportunity to explore the NBA and the draft process,” WSU head coach Ernie Kent said. “I think it’s going to not only give them, but also their teammate, Charles Callison, an excellent feel for what they need to do during the off-season and this upcoming basketball season, that’ll put them in the best position to play at the next level.”

There was never really a concern that any of them were going to actually stay in the draft; rather, each was taking advantage of a new rule that allows underclassmen to return to school after declaring for the draft as long as they don't hire and agent and then announce their intentions to withdraw by May 25. None was invited to the NBA's draft combine.

Still, it's welcome news for a basketball team that has already lost two key members of its rotation to transfer in Que Johnson and Valentine Izundu. All three are going to need to take a big step forward if the Cougs are going to improve on their 9-win season.