Auburn sophomore forward Chuma Okeke has entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft, he announced on his Instagram on Saturday afternoon. ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported the news earlier in the day.
"Auburn Family, after talking with my family, Coach Pearl, and the entire staff at Auburn, I have decided to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft," Okeke wrote.
Okeke is the second Tiger to declare for the 2019 draft this offseason after three-year starting point guard Jared Harper announced his decision earlier this month.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and Chuma is one of the most versatile players I’ve ever coached and impacts the game on both ends of the court,” head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I’m so proud of how hard he’s worked and how much fun he is to coach. When he recovers from this injury he will be better than ever.”
A product of Westlake in Atlanta, Okeke started at power forward this season after succeeding as a role player in 2017-18. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Okeke was considered the Tigers' best player this past season due to his NBA skillset and versatility.
"I want to thank God, my family, my coaches and teammates, and the entire Auburn family for their continued support these past two seasons," Okeke wrote. "I'm grateful for all that we have accomplished the past two seasons. Together, we've won championships and made history at Auburn."
Through 38 games this past season — all starts — Okeke averaged 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from deep.
He recorded 69 steals last season, good for the third-best single-season mark in Auburn history. Okeke also led the team in double-doubles with seven.
Okeke averaged 15 points and seven boards during the NCAA Tournament before he tore his ACL on a gruesome knee injury in the second half of the Tigers' Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina.
As Auburn upset Kentucky in the Elite Eight and advanced to its first Final Four ever, players, coaches and fans rallied around the humble star Okeke with the mantra, "Do it for Chuma."
Okeke underwent successful surgery April 2 by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.
Even though he's reportedly hired an agent, new NCAA rules allow Okeke to return to school if he so chooses. The deadline for that decision is May 29.
Okeke is currently the No. 41 overall prospect for the draft according to ESPN.
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