Three more WSU basketball players -- Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu and Conor Clifford -- all have decided to take advantage of the NCAA's revamped rules by declaring themselves eligible for the NBA Draft, the school announced Friday.
None have hired agents, meaning all are eligible to return to school if they withdraw their names from consideration by the May 25 deadline.
And, frankly, that's the most likely scenario.
"Declaring for the draft" doesn't mean what it used to; there's really no downside to declaring anymore, which is really just making yourself available for the NBA Draft combine and for private workouts at team facilities. Given that this likely will include hundreds of prospects around the country, there's a chance none of the three get any calls from teams whatsoever and they simply withdraw and return to school.
Or, they get some calls and get to travel and get in front of some scouts -- maybe at the combine, although that seems pretty far fetched, even for Hawkinson, who is an all-Pac-12 first teamer. He's rated as the 61st best junior by DraftExpress.com, and he'd need to be seen by the NBA as one of the top 60 or so of all domestic prospects to get a combine invite. Neither Iroegbu nor Clifford appear among the top 79 juniors.
So, unless these guys end up feeling like Que Johnson and decide they want to get away from Kent's program so bad they'll follow up their declaration with an announced intention to transfer, they'll be back next year to try and right the 9-22 ship that featured a 17-game losing streak to end the season.
Full WSU news release below.
Three Cougars Declare for NBA Draft
PULLMAN, Wash. - Juniors Conor Clifford, Josh Hawkinson and Ike Iroegbu have each declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, the trio announced Friday. None of the three will hire agents at this time, allowing them to withdraw from the draft process at any point prior to the May 25 NCAA deadline to return to school for their final seasons of collegiate eligibility.
"In today's climate, with the opportunity for players to be evaluated and have the opportunity to be invited to the NBA Draft Combine without hiring an agent, I fully support the decision that Conor, Josh and Ike have made to declare for the NBA draft," WSU head coach Ernie Kent said.
Men's basketball student-athletes are afforded the opportunity to put their name into the draft process, but maintain their collegiate eligibility as long as they don't hire an agent. The NBA Draft Combine runs May 11-15, and players who have not hired agents have 10 days following the combine's conclusion to make a final decision to return to school or remain in the draft. Declaring for the draft allows these three Cougars the chance to be invited to the combine and/or to private workouts for NBA teams and to receive feedback from NBA executives on those workouts.
Hawkinson, a 6-foot-10, forward, led the team in scoring and rebounding, while leading the Pac-12 and ranking 11th in the nation with 11.1 rebounds per game in 2015-16. His 9.5 defensive rebounds per game and 20 double-doubles each led the conference, ranking second in the league and 12th in the nation, respectively. In the middle of the season, the Shoreline, Wash.-native set a WSU record with 11-consecutive games with a double-doubles, while he ranks eighth in WSU history for career rebounds with 700 following his junior year and is on pace to finish with a school-record 1,037 rebounds. Hawkinson holds the school single-season record with 334 rebounds set as a sophomore and the third-spot on WSU's single-season list with 321 rebounds as a junior, as well as the school record for single-season double-doubles with 20 done both as a sophomore and junior.
From his freshman (2013-14) to sophomore years (2014-15), Hawkinson statistically had the second-best scoring improvement in the nation with 13.5 more points his second season than his first He also had the biggest rebounding improvement with 9.2 more rebounds as a sophomore than as a freshman. He was named Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year in 2014-15 and All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. Hawkinson is also a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic Honoree, was a 2015-16 CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honoree.
"My ultimate goal has always been to play in the NBA, so entering the NBA Draft provides me the platform to showcase my talents and continue to get better by playing against the best players in the world," Hawkinson said. "I am extremely blessed and humbled to be in this position and I'm excited to go through this process and see where I stand and where it takes me."
A native of Sacramento, Calif., Iroegbu was the only Cougar to start all 31 games in 2015-16 and has started 61 of WSU's 62 games over the last two seasons. The 6-foot-2 guard led WSU and ranked 11th in the Pac-12 and 225th in the nation with 3.6 assists per game as a junior in 2015-16. He had five 20-plus point scoring efforts that season and has seven over his career, including a career-high 28 points in WSU's overtime loss to Washington, Jan. 9, 2016. Iroegbu's had two-career double-doubles, including one as a junior with 17 points and 11 assists against New Mexico at the Diamond Head Classic, Dec. 25.
"After talking long and hard with my family and coaches, I have decided to enter my name into the NBA Draft," Iroegbu said. "My dream is to play in the NBA and I am excited to go through this process. I'll be attending workouts these upcoming weeks and will attack it with my endless drive to be the best player I can."
Iroegbu is tied for 13th in WSU's career record books for assists with 263 and is on pace to finish his Cougar career in the top-10 for total assists. He's also tied for 18th on WSU's career list for assists average at 2.83 assists per game. He had the ninth-most assists by a junior in WSU history and the sixth-most by a sophomore in Cougar history in 2014-15.
In just one season with the Cougars, Clifford averaged 6.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, while shooting at a .640 (89-for-139) Clip. Clifford's field goal percentage ranks second all-time in WSU's single-season record books. The 7-foot center also shot .825 (33-for-40) from the free throw line.
"Coach Kent has worked with me on instilling confidence and improving my game, this is the next step for that process," Clifford said. "I'm excited to see how this works for my aspirations to play professional basketball."
The last Cougar to be chosen in the NBA Draft was Klay Thompson, who went as the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft to the Golden State Warriors.