NCAAB: UConn’s Alex Karaban, Alabama’s Mark Sears withdraw from NBA draft

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Two-time defending champion UConn will have one starter returning after forward Alex Karaban announced Wednesday afternoon that he is withdrawing from the NBA draft and staying with the Huskies.

Others to reverse course on Wednesday included second-team All-America guard Mark Sears, who is staying at Alabama, and Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love, a third-team All-America guard who is returning to Arizona.

Karaban, a rising junior, made the announcement on social media before the deadline of 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday for draft prospects to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school.

“While I’ve enjoyed the draft process, Storrs is home. Let’s run it back,” Karaban announced on his X account.

Karaban started 77 of 78 games in his two seasons at UConn and averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. Last season, he averaged 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds and shot 37.9 percent from 3-point range.

In the 2024 Final Four, Karaban posted 14 points and eight rebounds against Alabama to help UConn reach the national championship game against Purdue. He had five points, six boards and four assists as the Huskies topped the Boilermakers for the national title.

Selected to the 2022-23 Big East All-Freshman team, the 6-foot-9 Karaban returns to a roster without four starters from last season: senior guards Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer, who exhausted their eligibility; and Stephon Castle and Donovan Clingan, who left early for the NBA draft and are projected to be lottery picks.

Sears ran one of the nation’s most potent offenses and averaged a career-best 21.5 points along with 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. The All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection helped the Crimson Tide reach the Final Four last season.

The 6-1 Sears also was All-SEC second team in 2022-23 at Alabama after transferring from Ohio, where he was first-team All-MAC in 2021-22.

Love, who played his first three seasons at North Carolina, will have one year of eligibility remaining at Arizona, which he led to the Pac-12 regular-season title in his first season. He set career highs by averaging 18.0 points and 4.8 rebounds along with 3.4 assists. He also shot a career-best 41.3 percent from the field.

Other players withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft, according to media reports:

–Wake Forest guard Hunter Sallis, an All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honoree after averaging 18 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in his first season with the Demon Deacons. Sallis played the previous two years at Gonzaga.

–Former Florida Atlantic standout guard Johnell Davis, who will play his final college season as a transfer to Arkansas and new coach John Calipari. Davis averaged career best of 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season — his fourth at FAU.

–Iowa forward Payton Sandfort, who had career-best averages of 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season, said he is returning for a fourth season at the school.
–Forward Coleman Hawkins, who played four seasons at Illinois, withdrew and will reportedly transfer to another school. He averaged 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.

–Former Kansas State standout Arthur Kaluma, who is in the transfer portal. The forward averaged 14.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in his lone season at Kansas State after transferring from Creighton, where he played two seasons.

–Former Miami guard Wooga Poplar, who is in the transfer portal. He averaged 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season for the Hurricanes.

–Former Florida State forward Baba Miller, who is transferring to Florida Atlantic. He averaged 7.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks for the Seminoles in 2023-24.

–Northwestern guard Brooks Barnhizer, who has averaged 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists over three seasons.

–Butler guard Jahmyl Telfort, who averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season after transferring from Northeastern, where he played three seasons.

–Oklahoma forward Jalon Moore, who averaged career highs of 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds after transferring from Georgia Tech, where he played two seasons.

–Ole Miss guard Matthew Murrell, an All-SEC second-team selection last season after averaging 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

–Forward Malik Dia, who is transferring to Ole Miss after playing at Belmont (2023-24) and Vanderbilt (2022-23). He averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds for Belmont last season.

–Guard Koby Brea, who is transferring to Kentucky after four seasons at Dayton. He led the nation with a 49.8 percent from 3-point range last season and averaged 11.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

–Clemson guard Chase Hunter, who has played parts of five seasons and last campaign averaged 12.9 points, 3.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds.

–Guard Chibuzo Agbo, who is transferring to Southern California after two seasons at Boise State (2022-24) and Texas Tech (2020-22). He averaged 13.7 points and 5.1 points last season.

–Forward Achor Achor, who is transferring to Kansas State after two seasons at Samford, where he averaged 16.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.

Among those that were staying in the draft in Wednesday media reports:

–Kansas guard Johnny Furphy, a 6-9 Australian who was selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman team last season after averaging 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds.

–Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II, a consensus second-team All-America selection after averaging 20.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks last season.

–Field Level Media

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