Utah State fans received news Sunday that would have seemed impossible one year ago.
Star center Neemias Queta announced on Twitter that he will return to Utah State for his junior season of college basketball.
“My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but now is not the right time to declare for the Draft,” his tweet said. “We have continued to build a great program here at Utah State and it is one that I am very proud of representing.”
Queta rocketed himself from a virtual unknown to a virtual NBA lock as a freshman in the 2018-19 season. The 7-footer averaged 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while garnering both freshman of the year and defensive player of the year honors for the Mountain West Conference.
Queta entered the draft and was invited to the NBA Draft combine before withdrawing from draft consideration, set to return to Logan for one more season of experience before likely becoming a first-round draft pick.
He then suffered a knee injury during play with Portugal’s national team. That resulted in him missing a chunk of college games to start the 2019-20 season. Queta averaged 13 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 22 games, helping the Aggies to a 26-8 record and a MWC tournament title.
In less than two full seasons, Queta became the fifth USU player to record 100 career blocks and ranks fourth all-time at the school with 122.
Early entrants to the NBA Draft face a tougher choice this offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic, which brings into question the status of the combine or draft workouts with individual teams.
Queta’s return boosts USU’s outlook for the 2020-21 season after the Aggies lost Diogo Brito and MWC player of the year Sam Merrill to graduation, and guard Abel Porter in a graduate transfer to Ohio State.
Queta’s dominant inside presence has been key in Utah State’s two-year run under head coach Craig Smith in which the Aggies have gone 54-15, broke a seven-year drought of appearances in the NCAA Tournament and AP Top 25, and twice qualified for the Big Dance.