Cliff Omoruyi declares for NBA Draft while maintaining eligibility
Rutgers center Cliff Omoruyi declared for the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday. However, he will not sign with an agent in order to maintain his college eligibility. He will go through the draft evaluation process while keeping the door open for a potential return to Rutgers for next season. The deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft is June 12 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
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“We are thrilled for Cliff to explore the opportunity of declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “Cliff has become the ultimate ambassador for Rutgers on and off the basketball court and we will support him and his family through this exciting journey.”
Omoruyi became the first player to lead Rutgers in scoring, rebounding and blocks this past season since Keith Hughes 32 years ago. He finished with 449 points this season, one more than teammate Cam Spencer for the team lead
Cliff averaged 13.5 points on 51.5% shooting along with 9.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 30.3 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, Cliff was third in league action with 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
He was named an All-Big Ten Defensive Team selection along with being named Second Team All-Big Ten by the media and Third Team All-Big Ten by the coaches.
The former 4-star recruit was 22nd nationally with a 9.1% block rate and 1st in Big Ten play at 9.4%. He was also 52nd nationally with a 24.5% defensive rebounding rate and 126th with an 11.5% offensive rebounding rate.
Defensively, Omoruyi improved as a rim defender and shot blocker. Cliff did a better job of defending without fouling, as he fouled out just once all season. It came against Indiana in December. He also became a more consistent rebounder on both ends of the floor.
One area where Cliff was inconsistent at times was on the offensive end. He was most dangerous in space and with lob passes where he could use this athleticism. He was less effective with his back to the basket when operating in the post.
It makes perfect sense for Omoruyi to participate in the draft evaluation process. He will get feedback on his game as well as insight on the interest from teams prior to fully entering the NBA Draft. He’ll also workout and play against high quality players throughout the process.
When discussing the potential roster changes this offseason, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell was supportive of this type of decision.
“Every year, and we are lucky that we have players of that caliber that can continue playing. Their job and I encourage it, just like Ron Harper Jr., see what they’re saying, get feedback,” Pikiell explained. “Always make great decisions for yourself. This is the one time you can be selfish for yourself. Make good decisions moving forward. Cliff will have his opportunities to explore.”
It’s safe to say that the program will keep a spot open for Omoruyi in case he does ultimately return for next season.
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March 23, 2023 at 10:06 pm
He’d be crazy not to at least go through the process and get feedback. I am confident that Cliff will be told that he’s not ready and still needs to show that his offensive skills can be broadened. That said, I wonder if the scouts will try to convince Cliff that he could be a Mitchell Robinson type? For Cliff, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as Robinson will make over $17 million this year.
March 24, 2023 at 5:54 pm
March 23, 2023 at 10:42 pm
Smart move to test out the waters. An NBA team could take a chance on his due to his freakish athletic skills. However, to my untrained eyes it looks as if he needs a lot of work on his offensive game. Who knows but best of luck to Cliff whatever he ends up deciding.
March 24, 2023 at 5:55 pm
March 27, 2023 at 3:57 am
It will be interesting to see what feedback he gets. If he does come back, I hope he gets the right help to develop his overall game and we see positive results next season. For me, this past season was a disappointment in terms of the overall lack of progress given his tremendous potential.