Efe Abogidi and Mouhamed Gueye have both officially withdrawn from the NBA Draft process, but there is still a lot to be decided about their futures.
There was not much draft buzz about either of them, but they both got looks and workouts with teams, which likely resulted in valuable feedback for what they should be working on and potential next steps. Abogidi seems to have his path mostly decided, but Gueye’s future is a bit more up in the air.
In the middle of my writing this, news came out that Abogidi is expected to sign a deal with the NBA G-League Ignite program.
Former Washington State big man Efe Abogidi is expected to sign a deal with G-League Ignite, source told @Stadium.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 1, 2022
Was also in the portal, and was previously considering Arizona and Maryland.
Abogidi will be a sort of trailblazer in this sense, as we have yet to see a college player go from the D1 level to Ignite while maintaining draft eligibility. There was early reporting that Abogidi would consider the G-League, but it was unclear exactly what that meant. I made the assumption that meant he would stay in the draft, go undrafted, and sign a G-League deal, but this path is not only more beneficial for Abogidi, but potentially WSU as a whole.
Kyle Smith and his staff still get to claim that they produced a pro, while keeping the possibility alive that Abogidi could get drafted and not have that attributed to another school and their development. Abogidi will be flanked by potential number one pick in Scoot Henderson and funk-master supreme Leonard Miller. Expect Abogidi to excel in the pace and space awarded to him by playing in an NBA system.
Gueye could also go down the professional route, but it would likely look different than what Abogidi is doing. Gueye — who participated in the G-League combine — could decide to go the Ignite route if the offer is there, but it feels like there is less of a guaranteed role for Gueye than there is for Abogidi.
He could also go to other G-League teams and maintain draftability, but that is a rare path and there is worry that a team would not be invested in his development if they did not have his rights. NBA teams use the G-League for specific purpose, and it tends to be focused on players they have rostered or plan to roster in the near future. The Ignite circumvents this by not being linked to a specific team and being more focused on developing draft picks.
European basketball has a similar worry, with the added baggage that European teams rarely play younger players. The NBL in Australia is a potential option, as the Next Stars program has gotten players drafted, but finding the right fit could be a challenge, and we have seen young bigs like Ariel Hukporti struggle overseas.
Gueye would face an uphill battle to go pro, but there is a chance he tries to take his chances and get paid.
The Transfer Portal
Gueye is in the transfer portal, with the option to go to any school that wants him. Gueye’s team has stayed quiet on who he has heard from, having not been publicly linked to any other colleges. Gueye has plenty of time to decide, but the market has moved fast with the portal lately and now that teams know who is returning and who isn’t, the decisions could come fast and furious yet again. Gueye plays a position that a lot of teams don’t covet the way WSU does, but he is still a player who could have multiple suitors and could even potentially have NIL deals out there.
A transfer still feels somewhat unlikely. There are plenty of teams with holes to fill, but there is likely a specific niche for Gueye. Playing the 4 for at least some minutes is likely a goal of Gueye’s, as it is for most young bigs who have burgeoning perimeter skillsets, and he would also want a guaranteed starting spot, which many bigger schools can’t offer. There have been rumblings by some in the fanbases of UCLA and Kentucky, the latter of which was in on him as a recruit, but there is no concrete reporting that they are interested.
Returning to the Palouse
Obviously, the answer everyone wants to hear is that the two bigs would also withdraw from the transfer portal, forego all professional options, and stay at WSU. It was a bit of a whirlwind when both of these players entered the portal in the first place after declaring for the draft, there was a “sky is falling” reaction, and everyone sat with a worried feeling about the next steps for WSU basketball. That feeling of Armageddon seems to have subsided, but the prospect of both returning to Pullman seems slim. However, Gueye could be leaning particularly strongly towards staying with the program.
Gueye returning to WSU feels almost likely at this point. There is a strong relationship here and a belief in his growth going forward. Gueye would likely get to continue playing the 4, which is something most young big prospects relish, as well as furthering his work as a perimeter player. He would get to show off his defense on the perimeter, which is impressive for his size, as well as hopefully get the jumper to a point where it intrigues the NBA. Gueye likely only has one more year in college ball either way, but there is a strong possibility that year is in Pullman.
Getting either of these two back would be a huge boost to the Cougs’ tourney hopes next season and getting both back would once again pile on the expectations. Gueye feels like he is bound to return, though it is far from certain. He has not been linked to other options and the fit and opportunity is too good to pass up unless another team can offer something similar. Abogidi seems to be headed to the pros, which is good for both him and WSU. Overall, the expectations continue to mount for WSU next year as the roster seems to be rounding out.