Speculation ran wild amongst Auburn fans for about an hour on Monday evening. It was reported that Chuma Okeke had pulled out of the NBA Combine, an event he was attending only to do interviews with prospective NBA teams as he continues to recover from a Torn ACL.
DeAndre Hunter, Chuma Okeke and Killian Tillie have withdrawn from the NBA Combine, the league office just informed all 30 teams that they will not be available for interviews tonight. Feel free to start speculating as to why (promises, etc).— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 13, 2019
Was he staying in the draft? Was he coming back to school? We got our answer about an hour later.
Auburn's Chuma Okeke has elected to sign with an agent and keep his name in the NBA Draft, a source told ESPN. He will not be participating in the NBA Combine, as previously reported. It appears that Okeke feels comfortable with where he's positioned in this draft.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 13, 2019
And with that, Chuma Okeke’s career at Auburn is officially over.
Okeke looked prime to be a sure-fire 1st Round pick as the season went along and possibly a lottery pick before his ACL injury in the Sweet 16 against North Carolina. It sounds like enough NBA teams are confident in Okeke’s ability to recover as well as what he’s already produced on the court for him to go ahead and officially declare before the combine begins.
And to be frank, why wouldn’t they be confident? Okeke was really coming into his own with great performances against Tennessee and had one of his best games as an Auburn Tiger with 20 points and 11 rebounds in what turned out to be his final collegiate game against the Tar Heels. It’s a shame how his Auburn career came to an abrupt end but many believed before the injury that this going to be Chuma’s last year on the Plains.
This season, Okeke averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Okeke plays tremendous defense, being able to guard almost anyone on the court and shot around 39% from 3-point range this past season. He will be an outstanding pro basketball player and there’s a team out there that will be very lucky and fortunate to get him. Despite the injury, I think Chuma could easily be a Late 1st Round Pick. No Auburn player has been selected in the NBA Draft since 2001.
Here are a few of my favorite Chuma highlights from this year.
In addition to his 3-point ability, Chuma’s a darn good defender too. pic.twitter.com/Umfhha1szv— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) April 1, 2019
Ballgame. Auburn wins 78-75. Chuma Okeke hits a go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left. Auburn has now beaten Georgia back-to-back years in Athens for the first time since 1979-80. pic.twitter.com/vpWZ1EhRPk— Nathan King (@byNathanKing) February 28, 2019
This flush by Chuma Okeke in Auburn's win over Georgia today pic.twitter.com/mUcO5IHhiR— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) January 13, 2019
It has been a joy and a privilege to watch Chuma play for Auburn the last 2 years and on behalf of the College and Mag staff, we wish Chuma all of the best in the NBA. Go get that money Chuma and War Eagle! Thanks for the memories!