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Zach Edey declares for NBA draft with option to return to school

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — National player of the year Zach Edey of Purdue has declared for the NBA, but will keep open the option of returning to school next season.

The 7-foot-4 center, who led Purdue to a Big Ten regular-season title last season by averaging 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists per game, has one season of college eligibility remaining. The Boilermakers also became the second No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament to lose to a No. 16 seed last month.

“My basketball career has been unorthodox to say the least, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” Edey wrote on Twitter. “From ranked 437 in my recruiting class to national player of the year, I can’t put into words what Purdue University, my teammates, my coaches and our fans mean to me. Though we fell short of our ultimate goal this season, I loved every minute of it.”

He added: “I will evaluate my future after going through the process and look forward to what’s next.”

Edey became the first player from Purdue to win the national player of the year award since Glenn Robinson in 1994. Robinson was the No. 1 overall pick that season.

Edey is the first player in NCAA history to finish a season with at least 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks and 50 assists in a season — since blocks became an official stat. He finished in the top 25 nationally in all four categories, was a unanimous first team All-American, the Big Ten player of the year and swept the national player of the year awards.

But where Edey fits in the draft is unclear in an evolving league that values 3-point shots and perimeter play over post players. That was one reason Edey’s former teammate, Jaden Ivey, went No. 5 overall in last year’s draft.

Most of the current projections, though, don’t have Edey being selected in the first round. Still, his upside remains high because the Canadian has played just five seasons of high-level basketball after giving up hockey and baseball.

Purdue has had at least one player selected in each of the past seven drafts, and Edey is the best hope to keep that streak intact.

In 99 career games, Edey has 1,533 points, 847 rebounds, 148 blocks and 106 assists. In 2022-23, Edey became the second player in Big Ten history to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.