SALT LAKE CITY — One of the top players from Utah State’s memorable 2018-19 men’s basketball season could be one and done.
Freshman center Neemias Queta announced on Twitter Friday that he will declare for this year’s NBA draft and plans on hiring an agent, while still leaving the option open to return to school should he choose to.
“After discussing with my family and coaching staff, I have decided to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA and will declare for the 2019 NBA draft,” Queta wrote. “I plan to hire an agent with the full intent of staying in the draft, while also retaining my eligibility should I choose to return to the school.”
The 6-foot-11 Portugal native became an instant leader for the Aggies this past season, earning freshman and defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. He set the school record for single-season blocks with 84, with a single-game high six blocks twice, including against New Mexico in the league tournament.
Queta started every game for first-year head coach Craig Smith and averaged 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 per game. He also shot 61.4 percent from the field.
“First off, I want to thank all of you for the most amazing year of my life,” Queta wrote. “Coming from Portugal to Utah as an 19-year-old man, I never could’ve expected all of the amazing events that would unfold over the next year. From winning the conference championship to making the NCAA tournament and building lifelong relationships along the way, I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Queta played a major role as the Aggies reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 and were ranked No. 25 in the final Associated Press and USA Today Coaches regular season polls. The Aggies went 28-7, including 15-3 in conference play — highlighted by an 81-76 win over then-No. 12 Nevada — to earn a piece of the league regular-season crown.
USU then won the Mountain West tournament championship to earn the league’s automatic NCAA bid. Utah State, earning its highest seed in school history as a No. 8 seed, lost to ninth-seeded Washington 78-61 in the NCAA’s first round. Queta had 11 points and nine rebounds in the loss to the Huskies.
“I would like to thank my coaches, specifically Coach Smith and (assistant) Coach (Eric) Peterson, for believing in me, teaching me, and for encouraging me to be the best that I can be, EVERYDAY,” Queta wrote. “I would like to thank my family and friends in Portugal who have supported me since day one. I would like to thank all of my teammates who have become my brothers throughout this journey. Most of all I would like to thank God, I am so grateful to him for putting me in this situation.
“AGGIES ALL THE WAY!”