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Isaac Likekele Officially Returning for Junior Season at OSU

Likekele would have garnered up a ton of NBA interest in a normal draft process.



Sophomore Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele would have garnered a ton of NBA interest from teams in a normal NBA Draft process with his 6-foot-4 frame, bulldog defensive mentality and scoring upside.

But the NBA Draft process right now is anything but normal, with in-person workouts and interviews banned indefinitely due to the pandemic. And so Monday it was made official what many long expected inside OSU, as Jon Rothstein reported Likekele was returning in 2020-21 for a junior season.

Likekele is on the NBA radar already, so the draft process for underclassmen — where they can declare, workout and interview with NBA teams, get feedback on their stock and make a decision about staying or going — would have benefited him greatly, if for no other reason but to prep himself for 2021. And again, in a normal year, it’d have made sense for him to declare and weigh his options. But with the draft process completely in limbo, going back to college is the logical option considering the lack of clarity about what the process this year will even look like.

I talked to NBA agent Ethan Rosenberg, who works for Jeezy’s sports agency called Sports99, last month about the coronavirus halting the draft process and throwing a wrench of uncertainty into things. He made the point that fringe players — potential second-rounders or even players who were on the fringe of being drafted — would ultimately choose to go back to college more often than normal if they still had eligibility.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more players returning next year to college just because there is that uncertainty with the draft,” Rosenberg said. “I think the people who have the biggest disadvantage right now are seniors, because if you’re a sophomore or a junior or a freshman and you’re kind of on the fringe of being drafted, at least you can fall back on going back to school another year. For seniors, if Portsmouth isn’t rescheduled, then they’re just kind of stuck at whatever their stock is going into draft workouts.”

With Likekele in tow, OSU has the goods of a preseason top 25 team — minus the hype. Cade Cunningham coming, Likekele, Yor Anei, Boone twins all returning, and it has the ingredients of a defensive juggernaut primed to make noise in 2020.

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