It may be all about the transfer portal right now but the Zags are more patiently waiting to find out if Malachi Smith and/or Anton Watson want to come back to Spokane for one more go. Both have one more year of extra NCAA eligibility but put their names in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Smith declared for the 2023 NBA Draft with the intention of maintaining his college eligibility. Contrary to reports, Smith’s agent confirmed the guard did not declare for the 2021 draft which makes him eligible to come back to school since he didn’t put his name in a total of three times. He only declared for the NBA draft twice in 2022 and 2023.
Anton Watson did get invited to the NBA G-League Combine on May 13-14. Depending on how he does there, Watson could get invited to the NBA Draft Combine on May 16-18 which would be great exposure for him. Whatever he hears back from there will ultimately decide if he will come back or not.
In order to retain college basketball eligibility, college players who have entered the NBA Draft must withdraw by Wednesday, May 31. That means Smith and Watson only have a bit over three weeks to make a decision.
One more time:— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 4, 2023
These are the players invited to the NBA G League Combine May 13-14 in Chicago including 2 from @RutgersMBB , 1 from @PrincetonMBB and NCAA star @MrNewYorkCityy of @KStateMBB pic.twitter.com/Q47U3yEaLz
As of right now, the Zags have 10 scholarship players and a total of 13 scholarships available. The team has room for both Smith and Watson to go along with 1 additional transfer player. I think that’s exactly what is going to happen. Both have unfinished business at the collegiate level and still need improvement in order to move on to the next level. Smith would be a fringe G-League player and Watson could be the face of the program next season with hopes of improving his NBA Draft stock for the 2024 class.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho