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Zags’ Ayayi declares for NBA draft

by From wire and news services
| April 26, 2020 1:05 AM

Like Kispert, he doesn’t plan to hire an agent

SPOKANE — Gonzaga sophomore Joel Ayayi declared for the NBA draft on Saturday but said he will not hire an agent.

The 6-foot-5 guard from France said his top option remains returning for his junior season. Ayayi averaged 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds (which was eighth in the West Coast Conference) last season and was voted the most outstanding player of the West Coast Conference Tournament. He also averaged 3.2 assists (11th in WCC), and 1.27 steals (10th in WCC) per game. He was fourth in the conference with a 2.08 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“I am entering the NBA draft, but my number one option is still to return to Gonzaga. I love the coaches, the school and my teammates,” Ayayi said in a statement released by Gonzaga. “There is still a lot of uncertainty with what might happen to next year’s NCAA season, so entering the draft gives me a little more time to evaluate that.”

He added he will work with coach Mark Few and the staff in reaching a decision before the draft’s withdrawal date of June 3.

As in years past, players can submit paperwork to receive evaluations from the NBA, then determine whether to remain in the draft or return to school.

Ayayi is the second Gonzaga player to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, joining Corey Kispert.

Numerous reports say sophomore forward Filip Petrusev will also declare for the draft, but that has not been officially announced. Petrusev also declared for the draft after his freshman season.

Ayayi enjoyed a breakout season after averaging just 1.7 points in limited action as a freshman.

Ayayi scored a career-high 21 points, with 12 rebounds, in the Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinals versus Southern Miss on Nov. 27. He grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, with 10 points, against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bordeaux, France, native scored in double digits 20 times in 2019-20.

Ayayi helped the Bulldogs qualify for their 22nd straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2019-20. Gonzaga finished the shortened season at 31-2, going 15-1 in West Coast Conference play, winning the league regular season title for a national-best eighth straight season.