USC junior point guard Devon Downey has pulled his name out of the NBA draft and plans to return to school for his senior season. According to sources, Downey had options in both the NBA and Europe but decided it was in his best interest to return to school for his final year.
Downey worked out for three NBA teams last week and, according to a source, one of them (Milwaukee) told him they were interested in drafting him in the second round. But second round picks are not guaranteed contracts and Downey apparently did not think that prospect was worth the risk.
Downey also had at least one, if not two, lucrative offers to play in Europe. According to sources, Downey strongly considered the overseas option. In the end though he decided to turn a potential six figure contract in Europe to return to Carolina.
Why did he decide to come back? According to a person close to Downey, he thinks that by going through the NBA workouts he has helped increase his stock in next year’s draft. Despite his big season last year, most pro teams weren’t familiar with Downey. During his workouts, particularly those late last week, he put himself on the radar of more than a few NBA teams. And even though he could have gone overseas or perhaps the free agent route in the NBA, Downey believes a strong senior season could elevate him into a first round draft pick next year.
Another major factor for Downey was his belief that next year’s Gamecock basketball team will be solid. He likes the incoming class of recruits and believes the team will have a chance to make some noise in an SEC that should be a much more high profile conference next season. The coaching change at Kentucky and the return of most of the highly regarded underclassman in the conference should make the league much deeper and stronger next season. Downey thinks that if he can have another big season in a league that will get more respect and attention, it will help his draft stock. And, unlike last year, NBA teams will know who he is going into this season.
Obviously Gamecock coach Darrin Horn is ecstatic to have his first team All-SEC point guard back next season.
“Devan and I have been on the same page throughout the process,” Horn said. “The feedback he received from several NBA teams and personnel will continue to help him grow as a basketball player. Devan is a special young man and player, and we are glad to have him back for his senior season.”
Downey, who very much considered his legacy at Carolina while deciding his future plans, is glad to have the gut wrenching decision behind him and is ready for his final season at USC.
“I want to thank my coaches, teammates and fans for being so supportive throughout the process,” Downey said. “It was a great experience for me, but the best decision for me right now is to come back.”