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Aluma Declares for the Draft: Could Return Next Season

By Grant Mitchell | April 07
Aluma draft
Photo via Matt Gentry

Virginia Tech's leading scorer and rebounder last season, Keve Aluma, announced Wednesday night via Twitter that he would be declaring for the upcoming NBA draft.

Aluma spent most of the 2020-21 season at center, despite being more of a natural power forward, where he posted averages of 15.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 blocks, and was bestowed with Atlantic Coast Conference second-team honors. His 6'9, 235-pound frame made him slightly undersized against a majority of the Hokies' highly-ranked opponents, though a lack of depth in size forced Mike Young's hand into leaving the Wofford transfer at an unnatural position.

Despite being deployed in unfamiliar territory, Aluma shone in his first season as a Hokie— he notched career-highs of 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and even became one of two ACC players to go 5-5 from three-point territory in a single game over the course of the season, despite entering the fall with zero career makes from downtown.

The junior big man appeared to be primed for another stellar season with the arrival of seven-foot Michael Durr, who announced his intentions to transfer to Virginia Tech just nine hours prior to Aluma's decision, which would have likely moved the VT star back to his favored forward position.

According to current NCAA guidelines, any player that does not get drafted may return to their respective schools, so long as "they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft." This regulation went into effect in 2018, replacing the previous ruleset that stated that athletes could only remain eligible if they withdrew from the draft within 10 days of the completion of the combine.

Bleacher Report and a number of other sites have posted mock drafts in anticipation of the NBA's actual event, scheduled for Thursday, July 29th at 8 p.m. ET: none of these sources have Aluma positioned in any of the sixty available slots.

ESPN has also released its list of the top 100 NBA prospects, starting with Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham and concluding with Howard's Makur Maker; Aluma failed to land anywhere between these two, thus finding himself on the outside looking in at this current time.

Aluma is not currently being represented by an agent, suggesting that his declaration for the draft may be more investigative than a sure-shot decision, and he very well may be back in Blacksburg next fall. Thankfully for Hokie fans, Aluma still has two years of eligibility remaining at the college level: his usual senior season and a free year via the COVID waiver, both of which could be used to raise his stock for future drafts.

This is not to say that the star of Virginia Tech's most recent season does not have a chance to get drafted: when his tape gets broken down, scouts will see an athlete with surprising quickness and agility, a soft touch from 15 feet that can be stretched to the three-point line, and a player that can become an elite rim protector when fully engaged. He will also have a chance to impress in-person at the combine, currently slated to take place from Monday, June 21st to Sunday, June 27th.

Whichever direction the Berlin, Maryland native ends up heading in, he is sure to have the full support of Hokie Nation right behind him.