Auburn's humble star and Final Four rallying symbol is set to take the next step toward his possible NBA future next week.
After reportedly receiving an invite late April, forward Chuma Okeke's name appeared Wednesday on the 66-player list of prospective NBA draftees who will attend next week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Okeke will obviously be unable to perform team workouts after he tore his ACL during Auburn's Sweet Sixteen victory over North Carolina, so the combine will serve as an opportunity for Okeke to conduct formal interviews with coaches and scouts.
The combine runs from May 14-19. After declaring for the draft last month, Okeke has until May 29 to remove his name and retain eligibility at Auburn.
"A lot of it is going to be about how everybody else does," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl told 247Sports last week. "Who impresses at the combine to where people say, 'Well, I'm going to take that guy,' versus waiting on Chuma? I'm not so sure that the injury doesn't actually encourage him to stay if he can in this draft, because he's already demonstrated what he's capable of doing, and there are guys that are projected late first round that can't hold a candle to him, and those guys at the next level are smarter than me. I'm sure they'll figure it out."
After playing his best basketball of his career during Auburn's historic Final Four run, the versatile Okeke is projected to be taken in the early to mid-second round in most major mock drafts. The question for Okeke and his family is whether he could improve his stock by returning to Auburn and becoming the Tigers' No. 1 scoring option after — and if — he fully recovers from his injury.
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But Okeke may not be the only former Tiger at the NBA Draft Combine. Guards Bryce Brown and Jared Harper, who graduated and left early for the draft, respectively, were both invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp on Monday.
The camp starts Sunday and concludes a day before the combine begins. According to the league, the NBA will select a handful of standout players from the camp to participate in the combine.
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