In a somewhat surprising turn, the Washington State Cougars men’s basketball team will be without their leading scorer and best player for the upcoming season. Sophomore guard CJ Elleby announced today he’d be keeping his name in the NBA Draft and would not return to Wazzu for his junior year.
I will always be a Coug! And I have so much love for the Pullman Community. The last two years have been my best! But I have made my decision. I’m going ALL IN THANK YOU PULLMAN pic.twitter.com/iM4lwcILCE— CJ (@EllebyCj) July 31, 2020
Elleby led the Cougs last year with 18.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, both tops on the squad. The sophomore from Seattle had until Monday to decide whether he’d remain eligible for the NBA Draft and just days ago received an invite to the draft combine.
Although another year of seasoning may have helped Elleby’s draft prospects, not knowing the status of college basketball’s upcoming season may have provided the needed push for Elleby to make his jump to the pros. With the invitation to the combine as well, Elleby will have a chance to showcase his skills for each team and, pending a good performance, increase his chances of being drafted.
So where does this leave WSU for the (hopefully) upcoming season? Elleby’s absence will no doubt leave a big void on both ends of the floor but the Cougs have one heck of a recruiting class coming in, their best in more than a decade. No Elleby likely means this team goes from a fringe NCAA Tournament team to an NIT team at best but the damage is mitigated by the exceptional skill of the players coming in. It likely means more up and down performances reminiscent of last season, but no doubt the situation is much better thanks to the incoming freshman.
Best of luck to CJ as he pursues his professional career! And we’ll always have this: