On Tuesday evening, with one of the biggest decisions of his young life nearing, Kevin Huerter put on a tie-dye shirt and slide-on sandals and took to the basketball court in the driveway of his childhood home. There he played one-on-one with his two sisters, spending the last day of his normal life — the life of a non-NBA basketball player — like any normal 19-year-old would.
At that point, Huerter had a little more than 24 hours to decide whether he would keep his name in the NBA draft (forfeiting his final two years of college eligibility) or return to Maryland for his junior year. There was no bad choice, Huerter has said repeatedly during a months-long process to gauge his draft stock, but he still had to make one by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.
So Wednesday afternoon, Huerter announced on his Instagram account that he will leave Maryland and enter the NBA draft.
Huerter will sign with agents Andy Shiffman and Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, which was expected because Bartelstein has been advising him along with Turgeon.
The decision leaves Maryland without a clear go-to scorer going into next season, as Huerter averaged 14.8 points per game as a sophomore and was expected to make a big leap going into his junior year.
The Terrapins will return junior Anthony Cowan Jr. and sophomore Darryl Morsell to the backcourt and introduce freshmen Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins and Serrel Smith. Huerter’s departure leaves Turgeon with two open scholarships, though it is likely that he will only fill one of those slots before the season.
Maryland will also bring back center Bruno Fernando, who announced Monday that he will return to Maryland for his sophomore year after testing the NBA draft waters with Huerter.
Going into the NBA combine earlier this month in Chicago, multiple NBA scouts believed that Fernando was close to leaving Maryland and Huerter would return to school. But Huerter impressed with his jump shot, despite a torn ligament in his shooting hand, and also scrimmaged well on the combine’s first day, and his stock quickly rose.
He is widely expected to be selected in the back half of the first round of the NBA draft on June 21, which would net him a guaranteed contract.
“He was probably the most impressive shooter at the combine, which automatically makes you an intriguing prospect and potential first-round pick,” a Western Conference scout said at the combine. “He couples that with size that makes you believe he’ll be able to rebound well and defend a few positions once his frame fills out. He really helped himself in Chicago.”
Several news outlets reported late in the morning that Huerter would remain in the draft, but his father, Tom, said shortly before the announcement that no decision had yet been made.
But Huerter’s and Maryland’s future became clear soon after. Coming out of the combine, it was clear that Huerter would leave Maryland if he felt a team would select him in the draft’s first 30 picks. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard was expected to work out for the Utah Jazz on Monday, but skipped that to return home to discuss his future with his family. Those talks led to a life-changing choice, and now Huerter will see if an NBA team will in fact select him in the first round.
“This was a difficult decision for both Kevin and his family knowing how much he loved Maryland and enjoyed college,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement released by the university Wednesday. “However, Kevin took his time and gathered the necessary feedback provided by NBA teams to make the best decision. We’re excited for Kevin as he pursues this next step in his career.”
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