KU basketball forward Jalen Wilson to test NBA Draft waters

Matt Galloway
Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas basketball redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson has entered the NBA Draft but will retain his NCAA eligibility throughout the process, the forward announced in a social media post Friday. Wilson averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds last season.

LAWRENCE — Another Kansas men’s basketball player will seek professional feedback.

Jalen Wilson, who just completed his redshirt freshman season with the Jayhawks, has declared for the NBA Draft but will retain his NCAA eligibility throughout the process, Wilson announced Friday in a social media post. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward averaged 11.8 points on 41.4% shooting with a 33.3% clip from 3-point range in 2020-21.

Wilson wrote that he reached his decision to test the NBA waters after “prayer and discussion with Coach (Bill) Self” and his family.

“I am excited for the opportunity to learn, workout and receive valuable feedback on my game that will allow me to make a solid decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to (KU) for my sophomore year,” Wilson wrote. “I am ready to get to work and have put all things in God’s hands!”

Wilson is not among ESPN's list of the top 100 players expected to be available in this year’s NBA Draft. Ochai Agbaji, a Jayhawk junior guard who declared on Thursday, is slotted 66th in those projections.

“Jalen had a terrific freshman year and played a critical role in our success,” Self said in a news release. “We knew as the season progressed there would be interest in exploring the NBA process. I fully support his decision and know that he will handle this experience properly.”

Playing almost exclusively out of the four-spot, Wilson led KU with 7.9 rebounds per game. The Denton, Texas, native and former four-star recruit nabbed eight double-doubles across his redshirt freshman campaign en route to being named to the Big 12’s All-Newcomer and All-Freshman squads.

Wilson reached double-figure scoring 19 times in 2020-21 but failed to reach that mark in any of his final four appearances. The forward’s positive COVID-19 test on March 12 knocked KU out of the Big 12 Tournament ahead of a scheduled semifinal matchup against eventual champion Texas, and after missing his team's NCAA Tournament opener, Wilson returned to score two points on 0-for-3 shooting with no rebounds in nine minutes in the Jayhawks' season-ending 85-51 defeat to USC on March 22.

Wilson, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle two games into the 2019-20 campaign, can return to KU provided he withdraws from the NBA Draft by July 19.

“Like Ochai, Jalen will keep his remaining eligibility so he has the option to return based on what he learns throughout this process,” Self said. “This will be great for him to learn what people say about him and ways in which he can improve.”

Although unlikely, a Wilson departure would continue an offseason of change for KU, which has already seen reserves Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna, Gethro Muscadin and Latrell Jossell enter the transfer portal, Agbaji enter the NBA Draft and assistant coach Jerrance Howard leave for the same position at Texas. Senior guard Marcus Garrett hasn’t declared whether he will utilize his bonus year of eligibility, though odds are he’s also played his final game as a Jayhawk.