Washington State guard Que Johnson is planning on declaring for the NBA Draft, according to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein:
Washington State's Que Johnson will declare for the 2016 NBA Draft without an agent, source told @CBSSports. Could return to school.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 22, 2016
The final four words of Rothstein's tweet are important because Johnson has a fifth season of eligibility left on his scholarship for Washington State and with the way the new NBA Draft rule works, players have until May 25 to get feedback on their potential draft stock before making a final decision. There's really no downside here for a player such as Johnson, who already is 23 years old.
In fact, WSU coach Ernie Kent said that he'd encourage his potentially draftable players to employ this very strategy:
Here's that Ernie Kent quote: pic.twitter.com/G22YDrjB3u— Jacob Thorpe (@JacobThorpeSR) March 22, 2016
That said, Johnson hasn't showed up on any major mock drafts or draft boards, so it seems far-fetched to believe that he will be one of the 60 picks in this June's draft. He does have a potentially marketable skill -- his jump shot, with which he shot 40 percent from 3-point range last season -- but as a guy whose other limitations caused him to only average 11 points and wasn't on the radar of any all-conference teams, it's hard to imagine an NBA team becoming enamored with him.
However, there is that little matter of Johnson's age. He attended prep school and then redshirted at WSU when he was only a partial academic qualifier, which means he would be turning 24 just before conference play next season. It wouldn't be a shock if Johnson -- degree in hand after four years in Pullman -- is simply ready to move on and try and start his professional career.
If he stays in the draft and isn't selected, there is a possibility an NBA team would pick him up as another player to compete on a Summer League roster, allowing scouts to see what Johnson could potentially do against 2016 draft picks and other undrafted players. If that doesn't land him a roster spot, Johnson could then pursue overseas options, a popular route for former WSU players such as DaVonte Lacy, Jordan Railey, Brock Motum, Abe Lodwick, Taylor Rochestie, Derrick Low, and others.
With the departure of Lacy from the 2014-2015 team, Johnson was thought to be one who could step up and have a breakout season after playing in Lacy's shadow the first two seasons. He had career highs in points (11.3), rebounds (2.5), and assists (1.2) per game for Washington State this past season. Unfortunately, Johnson's improved play didn't result in team wins as Washington State still struggled competing in a much more competitive Pac-12 conference.
The downside here is actually for WSU, because if Johnson takes all that time only to leave in the end, Kent is going to be left with many (any?) options to fill the vacant roster spot. None of that matters if Johnson does return, but if Johnson knew for a fact that he was done with college basketball, Kent could go after somebody with that scholarship now instead of June or July.