As far as professional sports drafts are concerned, the NFL’s annual event will be taking center stage later this week, but the NBA on Tuesday had an important day in preparation for its June 23 draft.
Tuesday marked the day in which the league released the official list of all early entry prospects who have entered their names in the draft, and five of the 283 prospects listed (247 from the college ranks and 36 international prospects) have Utah ties.
The Deseret News has previously reported four of these, but five are now official.
Under NCAA rules, college players will have until June 1 to audition for NBA teams in workouts before they must decide if they will remove their name from the draft and return to school.
Under the NBA’s rules, prospects will have until June 13 to withdraw their name from consideration.
Here are the five players with Utah ties who have officially declared for the draft:
Fardaws Aimaq, center, UVU: Aimaq announced on March 18 that he was both declaring for the draft and entering the NCAA’s transfer portal.
Widely considered the top big man in the portal, Aimaq on April 14 announced he has narrowed his list of potential transfer destinations to five — Gonzaga, Iowa, Washington, Texas and Texas Tech.
Aimaq, who also entered his name in the 2021 draft before removing it, is among the nation’s best rebounders, a skill that generally translates well from college to the pros.
After leading the country in the category during the 2020-21 season, he finished second in the 2021-22 campaign behind Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, who was the national player of the year.
Emmanuel Akot, wing, Boise State (Wasatch Academy): Widely considered one of the top high school prospects in the country in 2017, Akot at the time was thought to have first-round draft potential.
He hasn’t delivered on his star potential, but he’s been solid in stops at Arizona and Boise State. For the 2021-22 season, Akot averaged 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Like Aimaq, Akot has also reportedly entered his name into the transfer portal should he decide to return to college.
Justin Bean, forward, Utah State: After entering college as a walk-on, Bean worked his way into becoming an excellent player for Utah State.
As a senior in the 2021-22 season Bean averaged 17.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, which garnered him Second Team All-Mountain West Conference honors.
Although Bean was a senior last season, he could have returned to school for one more campaign because of COVID-19 eligibility rules, but he announced on March 23 that he would be turning pro.
Bean has already participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament — a showcase for potential draftees — which was held earlier this month.
Having been in existence for many years, the PIT doesn’t have the same prestige as it once did, but it was still an opportunity for Bean to be seen by NBA personnel.
Both Gach, guard, Utah: While prospects have been declaring for the draft for the last several weeks since the 2021-22 season ended, it was reported just on Monday by Jon Rothstein that Gach would be doing so.
Rothstein did not indicate that Gach would also be entering the transfer portal.
Gach’s collegiate career was certainly interesting, as he was solid in two seasons at Utah before transferring to Minnesota for a season to be closer to home only to transfer back to Utah for last season.
Gach had also entered his name in the 2020 draft before transferring to Minnesota.
Gideon George, forward, BYU: George announced on April 8 that he would be declaring for the draft.
Then on April 18, The Zone’s Jake Hatch reported that George was also going to be entering the transfer portal, which contributed to a wild week for the BYU men’s basketball program.
George announced on April 21 that he will be returning to BYU after all next season, meaning that in essence, declaring for the draft is expected to merely be an opportunity for him to get feedback from any NBA teams who may see him in workouts.