After concluding a week of practice and workouts in Las Vegas, Weber State junior guard Jerrick Harding announced Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that he is withdrawing from the NBA Draft and returning to WSU for his senior season.
Harding declared for the draft on April 10 and is withdrawing before the May 29 deadline, which allows him to retain college eligibility and return to school.
“I’ve learned a lot this past month and a half,” Harding told the Standard-Examiner. “The biggest thing for next year is just my leadership, helping all my teammates out with talking and working hard, I feel like that will have an impact. On the court, skill development has been a big thing. I’m just working hard and ready to go for next year.”
In his tweet, Harding said playing in the NBA has been a dream of his since he was 5 years old and he will “continue to work endlessly” toward that dream as he returns to Weber State. “I can’t wait to go to war with my teammates this upcoming season! Let’s get to work,” his message concluded.
Harding said a hyperfocus on his skill development, working out every day as if he was entering the draft, was the main benefit of the process. His agent had interest from the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers for team workouts but they couldn’t come together on the right dates to bring Harding in before the May 29 deadline.
Still, Harding had a week-long set of practices and workouts in Las Vegas which culminated in a pro day Monday. Harding competed with and against the likes of Nassir Little, the freshman from North Carolina who may be a top-10 draft pick, Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite and Michigan State’s Matt McQuaid.
“It was fun to compete against those guys. I played pick-up with them for a couple days. It was cool to see how other guys work,” Harding said. “It helps me because we don’t really see those guys during our season. Being able to compete against them helped my confidence because I feel like I can compete with anybody.”
The players took the floor Monday in front of scouts for what Harding said seemed like every NBA franchise, running through workouts similar to any NBA team’s pre-draft process — shooting and ball-handling drills, three-on-three and one-on-one work, and more.
“The biggest thing I learned was how to keep my energy up during workouts. It was an eye-opener for next year ... it’s been a cool experience just going through the process so, when I go through it next year, I feel like I have a head start,” he said.
He said his agent was collecting feedback from NBA scouts and will send it along in the next few days.
Looking forward, Harding is fifth all-time in career points at Weber State with 1,621, well within striking distance to overtake Jeremy Senglin (2,078) for the school’s scoring crown this season. He says his 3-point shot wasn’t as good as he wanted this past season, so he’s working on that and trying to take one more step in size and explosiveness.
He’s focusing on making his teammates better, too, by increasing his assist rate.
“I’m a scorer, so I feel like I can make a play every time down,” Harding admitted. “But it’s about making the right play and trusting my teammates.”
He said those players have already displayed the right appetite for work in their first days on campus, while established players like he and Cody John are ready to lead.
“I feel good about this upcoming season,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of dogs coming in.”
QUETA RETURNS TO
Utah State also got good news Tuesday when freshman center Neemias Queta announced he would return to USU for his sophomore season. The reigning Mountain West Conference freshman of the year and defensive player of the year garnered a few NBA team workouts and may have been able to work into the first round of the draft, but may have a higher ceiling with one more season under his belt.
Yoeli Childs, a BYU junior and all-West Coast Conference first-team player, has not withdrawn and has said he will not return to school.