On Wednesday, Nojel Eastern made it official: He is returning for his sophomore season at Purdue.
Got the whole squad back. It’s go time!
— Purdue Men’s Basketball (@BoilerBall) May 30, 2018
The news comes a day after standout guard Carsen Edwards opted to return to the Boilermakers for his junior season. These returns will help fill the void left by the graduation of starters Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson.
After his freshman season with the Boilermakers in 2017-18, Eastern declared for the 2018 NBA Draft but did not hire an agent. This left him with the opportunity of returning to school.
— Purdue Men’s Basketball (@BoilerBall) April 16, 2018
Invitations went out for the 2018 NBA Draft Combine and Eastern did not receive one — a signal he would be better off staying in school.
Certain prospects will declare for the draft and not hire an agent just to talk to NBA personnel and figure out where — and if — they would get drafted. Prospects can also find out what they need to work on to not only improve their game, but also their draft stock.
Why Nojel Eastern made the right call by going back to school
Eastern was a freshman last season. While he played in 37 games, he averaged 12.6 minutes per game. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as well.
While stats aren’t everything, he still has time to develop his game and showcase more of his skills. After all, 12.6 minutes per game can only show so much.
One part of his game he can work on is his 3-point shooting. Eastern made 33 percent of his shots from behind the arc, which is OK, but he attempted nine the entire season. Developing arguably the most valuable shot in today’s NBA would help boost his stock.
Why Nojel Eastern should have stayed in the draft anyway
The case can always be made that a prospect should go into the draft. Heck, even if that player doesn’t get drafted, he has the opportunity to make money professionally.
Over the course of a five-month season, G League players will make $7,000 per month — or $35,000 per year — as reported in April. While $35,000 a year may not seem like a ton, it’s $35,000 more than the NCAA athletes are making annually now. That is, of course, if they make a G League roster.
Eastern is also going to be a year older once the 2019 NBA Draft rolls around. Being older is never a good thing when it comes to being drafted. Sure, more experience is nice for a playoff team looking to add another player who isn’t seen as a project, but teams are always looking for the next great young player.
If you’re an NBA team that is only one piece away from winning a title, a player who was in college a year ago likely isn’t going to put you over the top. In the end, Eastern needs to showcase more of his game if he wants to get drafted.