Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame pulls out of NBA draft

Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) goes up for a shot against Georgia Tech forward Charles Mitchell (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame says he is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to school for a final season.

The 6-foot-7 all-Atlantic Coast Conference forward had until midnight Wednesday to take his name out consideration. Blossomgame announced his decision on campus after returning from a workout with the Phoenix Suns.

Blossomgame averaged 18.7 points a game last season and was voted the ACC’s most improved player, along with making the all-ACC first team. He was considered the centerpiece of Clemson’s chances for reaching the NCAA tournament next season for the first time since 2011.

Blossomgame was not considered a first-round draft choice and, despite playing well at the NBA draft combine earlier this month, thought coming back for a senior season was his best option.

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”This was a very difficult decision, but I’m at peace with it,” Blossomgame said.

The junior from Alpharetta, Georgia, also led the Tigers with 6.3 rebounds.

Blossomgame led the Tigers to its second winning season in the past three years. Clemson finished 17-14 overall and 10-8 in ACC play, just fifth time the school had ever won double-digit conference games.

With Blossomgame back, the Tigers and coach Brad Brownell expect to take a significant step forward. Clemson’s highly regarded transfers Marcquise Reed of Robert Morris and Shelton Mitchell of Vanderbilt are both eligible to play after sitting out next season.

Clemson also debuts its $63.5 million renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum after playing this season in Greenville, about a 40-minute drive from campus.

It looked like Blossomgame was leaning to the NBA after his play at the combine, where he combined in two games to score 27 points and grab 13 rebounds.

In the end, Blossomgame decided it was better to keep developing in college instead of on an NBA bench or overseas.

It’s the first time Brownell has had a first-team all-ACC player coming back – and third time ever following Choppy Patterson in 1961 and Will Solomon in 2001 – heading into his season at Clemson.

Brownell said part of why Blossomgame returned was because he wants to develop into a first-round NBA draft choice.

”But at the same time he loves it here, he knows the type of team we can have next season, and feels there are bright things in our program for our team and for himself,” said Brownell, who’ll start his seventh season at Clemson.

Source: MSN Sports

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