by John FantaFollow @John_Fanta
Creighton junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander confirmed on Friday evening what has been reported, that he is “leaning” towards staying in the NBA Draft after officially declaring for the draft earlier that same morning.
With Creighton receiving massive hype heading into the 2020-21 season, the thought was that Alexander, who averaged 16.9 points per game this season and was a top-level defender, would be at the forefront of a Final Four caliber roster that could take the Bluejays to heights that they have neve achieved before. But, Alexander explained on Friday what his thought process is in potentially staying in the draft and turning pro.
“Playing (professionally), that would just be my main focus. That’s going to be my job,” he said. “I have to put everything, my mindset, everything into playing the game of basketball. Day and night, I always got to be thinking of being in the gym and putting up extra shots, making sure my body is healthy, doing rehab sessions, getting stronger, doing the little things, where I know that two to three years of being in the league, where I know that I’ll be ready for the spotlight. I know that if I had a chance to play in the NBA right now, that I will work my hardest every single day because I want to get better no matter what.”
Essentially, Alexander sees the value in putting 100 percent of his focus on his game as opposed to everything that comes with being a student-athlete.
That doesn’t mean that Alexander is ignoring the fact that Creighton could be in for a special season if he returns.
“Being a part of that would be the best thing ever,” said Alexander when asked about returning to a Creighton team that is a consensus top five squad in early preseason polls for next season. “This past year, we stood out and it was the best that I’ve been in college basketball. Those guys helped put me in a position that I’m in right now. If I have the opportunity to go back, it’s going to be amazing.”
Alexander said Creighton head coach Greg McDermott “felt this year that I could possibly be ready,” and has given the Bluejays star guard until some point in May to make a final decision. That brings up the unprecedented part of this process, that the NBA Draft could be pushed back to “no sooner than August 1,” as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday.
As of now, the official date for Alexander and other NCAA underclassmen to withdraw from the draft in order to retain remaining eligibility is June 3. That likely will be pushed back, but the way Alexander sounded, it did not seem like it would impact him.
The one interesting scenario that Alexander alluded to, that could lead him to return to Creighton, is if he signs with an NCAA-certified agent but goes undrafted. There are only 23 agents certified by the NCAA, for what it’s worth, but Alexander would be able to return to Creighton if that were the case. If the agent were not certified by the NCAA, Alexander could not stay in the draft. For what it’s worth, there are no major cases of this happening more. Alexander said if he went undrafted and had an NCAA-certified agent that there would be a 70 percent chance that he returns, and a 30 percent chance that he stays in the NBA.
Alexander said NBA Draft personnel have told him thus far that he could be a mid-to-late second round pick, or that he could go undrafted.
“Being drafted in the second round, that’s not a really big deal to me,” said Alexander, indicating that he’s fine if he is just drafted. He added that he would not be opposed to a potential two-way contract, meaning he can see time in the NBA G-League and NBA.
If Alexander is drafted, he would be the fourth Bluejay since 2014 to be selected (Doug McDermott – 2014, Justin Patton – 2017, Khyri Thomas – 2018).
“We have a great system at Creighton,” said Alexander. “We play hard. We have great conditioning. We have probably the best weightlifting coaches probably in basketball in my opinion. We call ourselves a family, and we push ourselves every single day on and off the court, and no matter what we always find a way to get things done.”
While Alexander choked up a little bit during his media availability thinking about leaving the Creighton family, he talked about what he feels is best for himself, and at this moment, that means heading to the NBA in hopes of fulfilling a dream.