One of Georgia’s lone bright spots from the 2018 basketball season was the improvement of sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton. And Claxton made such a jump, that he declared for the 2019 NBA Draft on Friday.
As a sophomore, Claxton led the team in points(13), rebounds(8.6) and blocks(1.8). The 6-foot-11 standout announced the news on Twitter.
All Glory Be To God 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/mdvg885bi6
— Clax (@_claxton33) April 19, 2019
“First, I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity and blessing me to be in this position. I want to thank my family, coaches, and trainers for always believing in me and pushing me to be the best player and person that I can be. I want to thank Dawgnation for welcoming me with open arms. No matter what, I will always be a Georgia Bulldog for life. With that being said, I will be entering my name in the 2019 NBA Draft.”
The Georgia basketball Twitter account also put out a statement on Claxton.
“Nic has done a very good job of staying in the PRESENT while getting feedback and exploring his options for the future. The maturity of staying focused is impressive. We will continue to help, solicit feedback and be insightful and supportive through everything.”
Nic has done a very good job of staying in the PRESENT while getting feedback and exploring his options for the future. The maturity of staying focused is impressive. We will continue to help, solicit feedback and be insightful and supportive through everything. #GoDawgs
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) April 19, 2019
ESPN rates Claxton as the No. 40 overall prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft. A strong pre-draft process could vault him into the first round of the draft.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony provided an update on Claxton as to how some NBA teams feel about him.
Some NBA teams have told ESPN that they feel Claxton may be a riser during the pre-draft process and could potentially work his way into the first round,” Givony said. “Others feel he’s too raw physically and skill-wise to be considered more than a project and would benefit from another year in college.”
Claxton has until May 30 to decide if he wants to remain in this year’s draft. Should Claxton receive an NBA combine invite, that event will likely play a large role in shaping Claxton’s NBA future. The draft combine is set to take place in Chicago this year from May 15-19.
Should Claxton decide to return to Georgia, he would likely be joining a much-improved roster. The Bulldogs brought in the No. 7 signing class for the 2019 recruiting cycle. The recruiting haul is headlined by the nation’s No. 2 overall player, Anthony Edwards.
Georgia is also set to bring back a handful of contributors from the 2018-19 team, like guards Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump, as well as forward Rayshaun Hammonds. Claxton returning to school would be a huge boost to Georgia’s NCAA tournament chances. Georgia has not made the NCAA tournament since the 2014-15 season.
However, if Claxton is able to play himself into first-round pick status at the combine — like current Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter did last year — it would make a lot of sense for Claxton remain in the 2019 NBA Draft. This year’s draft is set for Thursday, June 20.