Antonio Blakeney to test NBA Draft waters, but won’t hire an agent, leaving door open for 2016-17 return

By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor

Antonio Blakeney will enter his name into the 2016 NBA Draft, but he won’t hire an agent, leaving the door open for a return in 2016-17, LSU announced Friday.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank God, my family, my coaches and teammates,” Blakeney said in a statement. “I’ve learned some valuable lessons during my freshman year. I’m excited about my future in basketball and look forward to improving on and off the court each day.

“After meeting with my mom and the LSU Coaching Staff – I’ve decided to enter my name into the 2016 NBA Draft with the hopes of pursuing my dream of playing the game I love with the best in the world.

“I will not hire an agent to keep my NCAA eligibility intact. I love all the fans at LSU and would love for their support through this process.”

A new rule in effect this year extends the deadline for early entrants into the draft to remove their names to May 25, a week after the NBA Draft Combine concludes. The rule also allows early entrants to participate in the combine and work out once with each team individually without jeopardizing their college eligibility, as long as they don’t hire an agent.

According to a source, LSU expected and encouraged Blakeney to test the NBA waters, saying “it’d be foolish” for anyone with hopes of playing in the league to do otherwise. During his recruitment, Blakeney maintained an openness to the idea of playing at LSU for more than a single season, and the expectation is that he’ll return if he’s not given a first round guarantee by a franchise.

Blakeney started slow in his freshman year at LSU but finished hot. In the 10 games spanning Feb. 6 and March 11, Blakeney averaged 19.9 points per game on .504/.415/.789 shooting, at one point hitting 28 free throws in a row.

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