There are 117 college underclassmen on the NBA’s official list of early entrants in the draft.
N.C. State has three of the first seven names, in alphabetical order, on the list and the surprise Tuesday was seeing junior forward BeeJay Anya’s name.
Anya, who was second in the ACC in blocked shots last season and holds the school record for career blocks, said Tuesday he does not plan on hiring an agent. Anya, a 6-foot-9 power forward, said he thought it was smart to make the most of the new draft rule which allows underclassmen more time to get feedback.
“I just want to take advantage of the new rule while I can,” Anya wrote in a text message Tuesday night.
Anya, who averaged 4.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 33 games last season, was clear about his intentions for next season.
“I fully expect to be returning to school for my senior year,” Anya wrote in a text message.
The NCAA changed the rule this school year to allow underclassmen more time to go through the draft process and get feedback from NBA personnel. Anya and sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu, first on the NBA’s alphabetical list, have until May 25 to get more information about their draft status and can return to school if they do not hire an agent.
The NBA combine will be May 11-15 in Chicago and only 62 players were invited last year.
None of the three N.C. State players on the early entrant list are projected to go in the first round of the draft June 23. Junior guard Cat Barber, the ACC’s leading scorer, already has hired agent Sunny Shah and will remain in the draft.
Abu, who led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring to Barber, has said he will return to N.C. State if he’s not going to be taken in the first round.
Anya’s decision is the latest in a busy offseason for the Wolfpack, which is coming off of a 16-17 finish during the 2015-16 season.
Barber and twins Caleb and Cody Martin, who decided to transfer, are not coming back and assistant coaches Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley were replaced.
So N.C. State will have a new look for coach Mark Gottfried’s sixth season. A healthy Terry Henderson and the additions of freshman guard Dennis Smith and Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn should put the Wolfpack back in NCAA tournament contention, if Abu and Anya return.
If both big men ended up staying in the draft, however unlikely, N.C. State would have senior Lennard Freeman, who potentially could redshirt next season, as the only scholarship forward on the roster.
North Carolina had forwards Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks on the list of early entrants. Duke’s Brandon Ingram, who could be the No. 1 overall pick, and Raleigh’s Rodney Purvis, who started his career at N.C. State and transferred to Connecticut, also were on the final NBA list which extends to 162 names when you include the 45 international players.