LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- In the space of just 24 hours, Louisville coaches and basketball fans got a double-dose of good news that will have a huge impact on the 2019-20 season when both Steven Enoch and Jordan Nwora announced they have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return to school.
Enoch was first to announce his decision on Tuesday. Nwora went almost up to the 11th hour, revealing he will be back to UofL just two hours before the 11:59 p.m. deadline Wednesday when players who entered draft early had to withdraw to retain their college eligibility.
Together, those two combined for 35.4 percent of Louisville's scoring and 33.7 percent of its rebounding last season.
Nwora, a versatile, 6-foot-7 rising junior forward, was one of 15 players who took part Tuesday in BDA Sports' pro day in Los Angeles, where they worked out for 30 minutes in front of NBA executives, coaches, scouts and media representatives. Apparently, the Cards' leading scorer and rebounder didn't get the feedback he wanted to hear and tweeted a video announcing his decision.
Enoch, a 6-foot-10 rising senior, revealed his decision over Twitter, saying he will be back for his final season with the Cardinals.
"I'd like to announce that I'll be returning to Louisville for my senior year for my final opportunity to compete for a National Championship!" Enoch wrote. "Thank you to all the NBA teams for the good feedback the chance to show my talent. Let's get it Card Nation."
It wasn't a surprise that Enoch is returning because he had drawn very little, if any, interest from NBA teams and his decision to even enter his name in the draft was somewhat of a surprise.
Nwora's situation was more complicated, making his decision a more difficult one. He was forecast to be drafted as high as late first round to going undrafted.
After seeing limited playing time as a freshman under interim coach David Padgett, Nwora had a breakout season in 2018-19 under new coach Chris Mack and was voted the ACC's Most Improved Player. He led UofL in scoring (17.0 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg), steals (32), minutes played (31.9), 3-point shooting (77-206, 37.4 percent) and free throws (104-136, 76.5). Overall, he shot 44.6 percent.
Nwora's highest projection was by NBAdraft.net, which tabbed him as No. 28 in Round 1 by Golden State. Sports Illustrated had him going in Round 2, No. 32, by Cleveland. Draftsite.com and Mock Draft Central believed he would go undrafted.
Nwora is an elite-level spot-up shooter, a solid rebounder and a tremendous finisher on drives into the lane. However, he is a careless ballhandler at times and can be lackadaisical on defense, although he improved significantly in that area during the course of the season.
Nwora has been working out for various NBA teams, most recently the LA Clippers on Monday. He was one of 66 prospects invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago on May 16-17, but was sidelined after aggravating an injured calf muscle. That cost him to forego five-on-five scrimmages, strength and agility drills and shooting sessions.
At the combine, where Nwora made the most recent comments regarding his looming decision, he called it a "stressful" situation and said he is "50-50" and wouldn't make up his mind until the deadline. He said he would discuss his options with his agent, Bill Duffy, his parents and his UofL coaches.
Nwora told reporters at the combine that he wants to be a first-round pick and wants a "guarantee" from a team that he'll be selected if he stays in the draft.
"It's gonna be tight when it comes to a decision of going back to school or staying in the draft," Nwora said. "I've been talking to a lot of people, just getting a lot of feedback to see where I stand.
"They're saying now that I can go anywhere between 20 and 40. I see myself as more of a first-rounder and having something guaranteed to me. If that doesn't happen, I'll go back to school, keep working and get better. I'll play on a great team and play under a great staff [if he goes back]. Either way, it'll be good for me. If I'm where I want to be at, I'll stay; if not, I'll go back. At the end of the day, it's going to be what's best for me."
CRUM OUT OF HOSPITAL
After some anxious days following his second stroke in as many years, former University of Louisville and Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Crum, 82, has been released from the hospital and will continue his recovery at home and with therapy.
Crum suffered a stroke last week, according to Jonathan Israel of the Denny Crum Foundation. The two-time national championship coach had also had what was termed a "mild" stroke in late August of 2017 while fishing in Alaska.
Crum's wife, Susan, recently told WDRB News that her husband's progress since the stroke has been steady and that he remains in good spirits. The announcement of Crum's release came Tuesday afternoon on Facebook.