After a wild couple weeks in mid-April surrounding Creighton basketball, a few more notable events transpired.
The official NBA draft early entry list is out. Creighton notes…
Ty-Shon Alexander: DECLARED (going pro)
Denzel Mahoney: DECLARED (signed with NCAA-certified agent; can still return to school)
Damien Jefferson: DECLARED
Marcus Zegarowski: DID NOT DECLARE
— Jon Nyatawa (@JonNyatawa) April 29, 2020
I wrote about Ty-Shon & Denzel’s Draft Declarations in the blog I linked up top. Now that the NBA Draft entry list is final, I’ll briefly discuss Damien Jefferson’s declaration, Marcus Zegarowski deciding not to declare, and a couple more Creighton commitments.
Damien Jefferson Declares for NBA Draft
Similar to Denzel Mahoney’s declaration, this is purely a feedback-driven decision by Damien Jefferson. Both Damien and Denzel are athletic specimens, so they’ll likely test off the charts in those regards & get the guidance they need to continue improving. B-Fox & B-Frank touched on the rise of Creighton hoops in the decade since Greg McDermott took the helm. You can add ‘three players in one year declaring for the NBA draft’ to the growing list of accomplishments Coach Mac & the Creighton faithful could’ve never dreamed about just few short years ago.
At 6’5″, Jefferson is an undersized 3 and not good enough of a long-range shooter to succeed at the G-League/NBA levels, but he just always seems to be in the right place at the right time and rarely makes mistakes. My favorite play all season is a Damien Jefferson hustle play at a pivotal moment in the Jays’ win at Seton Hall.
This play by Damien Jefferson will be legendary in the #Jays film room, especially after all those loose ball drills Creighton’s had in practice over the last 2 seasons.
Deflection, hustle, dive and dish. pic.twitter.com/JBxeAtNe0O
— Jon Nyatawa (@JonNyatawa) February 13, 2020
What he lacks in three-point prowess he makes up for with smart play in the mid-range & slashing games. He made 61.5% of his two-point shots this year. That is a staggering statistic for a player who isn’t 6’10″+ and actually ventures outside of a small radius outside of the area surrounding the basket. If he can gain confidence shooting from beyond the arc, Damien Jefferson could have a fruitful professional basketball career, either here in the U.S. or in Europe.
Damien Jefferson is a guy who has a remarkable motor, knows his role, and will do whatever it takes to help his team win. It’ll be awesome to have him back next season.
Marcus Zegarowski Will Return for his Junior Season
Speaking of competitive drive, Marcus Zegarowski’s name thankfully wasn’t on the NBA Draft’s early entry list. Like I touched on with Ty-Shon Alexander last week, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Zegarowski would’ve put together a phenomenal late-NCAA tournament run (given he recovered quickly from a late-season knee tweak) and declared for the draft. Obviously, he didn’t get the opportunity to do so.
Whether it served as any consolation, he was named an honorable mention AP All-American. Even if he declares for the NBA draft after what promises to be a show-stopping junior season, Marcus Zegarowski will go down as one of the greatest point guards in Creighton history. Though I’d wager that he considered it, not even declaring for the draft to gather feedback shows that Z is committed to getting the Jays to the NCAA tournament’s second weekend for the first time ever.
Ty-Shon Alexander’s departure stings, but there’s a reason his declaration didn’t plummet the Bluejays down way-too-early preseason college basketball rankings. That reason is the most important player on the floor for Creighton: Marcus Zegarowski.
Modestas Kancleris Signs Creighton LOI
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Bluejay nation, please welcome Modestas Kancleris (@MKancleris) to the Creighton family!
— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) April 30, 2020
A few weeks after inking former Duke sharp-shooter Alex O’Connell, the Jays landed a commitment from key member of the U16 and U18 Lithuanian national teams, Modestas Kancleris. The 6’9″ wing hails from Kaunas, Lithuania and bolsters the Bluejays 2020 recruiting class that also includes O’Connell, Ryan Kalkbrenner, and Sami Osmani.
The last 6-foot-9, Eastern European player Creighton had, Martin Krampelj, turned out to be a huge contributor. Let’s hope the same applies here. Modestas Kancleris will actually be the second Lithuanian to ever don a Creighton uniform. Don’t ask me who the other is! I won’t pretend that I know anything else about Kancleris, so to learn more click the link in the tweet or check out the video below.
Sami Osmani Signs with Creighton As Preferred Walk-On
— sami osmani (@samiosmani_) April 9, 2020
I forgot to include this in my last Creighton hoops rundown, but in early April Oak Lawn High School’s all-time leading scorer announced his Creighton commitment. Osmani also holds the Spartans school record with 210 made three-pointers. The big guard averaged 19.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in his senior season and plans to pursue a degree in finance once he sets foot on campus. He’ll slide in nicely, replacing graduating senior Jordan Scurry on the scout team. According to the video description in his senior highlights, he was also class valedictorian.
Until next time. #RollJays