When Ernie Kent was fired, there was one refrain: The new coach of the Washington State Cougars has to figure out a way to keep CJ Elleby, perhaps the most accomplished freshman in program history.
There’s now a chance — however small — that Kyle Smith could lose Elleby to the pros, as he declared his intention to explore the NBA Draft. He will not be hiring an agent and could return to school if he withdraws his name before June 1.
Here’s Elleby’s full statement:
More from Elleby in a statement he sent to ESPN pic.twitter.com/0MRjlKeDg0— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 29, 2019
Most players will remain the draft if they are believed to be a first round lock; it’s hard to imagine Elleby receiving that kind of evaluation, but weird things happen, I guess. Regardless, this is a no-risk move for Elleby — you might remember that Robert Franks did the same thing a year go, and Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu and Connor Clifford also did it before their senior seasons. There’s no harm in testing the waters and seeing what teams think of you, and if he can get invited to some workouts, he’ll get some feedback on his game that he can use to improve his future prospects.
Then again, that’s a pretty long and detailed statement for a guy who seems likely to come back. Maybe he just really likes to explain himself? Anyway, here’s to hoping that if he doesn’t hear what he wants to hear, he ends up back in Pullman. There’s little doubt in my mind that he’ll thrive under Smith, who values so many of the things that Elleby is good at.