After exploring basketball’s professional realm for the last several weeks, Creighton’s Martin Krampelj has decided he will forgo his final year of college eligibility and remain in the NBA draft.
Krampelj said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that he’s thankful for the love and support from the Creighton community during his career and he’ll “always be grateful” for the chance to play for the Bluejays.
But playing professionally has always been his goal, according to Krampelj.
“My dream has been to play at the highest level ever since I can remember,” he wrote on Twitter. “After testing the waters and receiving valuable feedback, I have decided to remain in the 2019 NBA draft and pursue that dream.”
The news came just a few hours after senior-to-be Davion Mintz, who also declared for the draft, confirmed he’d return to Creighton for his senior year.
It’s not an unexpected move for Krampelj, who turned 24 in March and graduated in May. He’s battled back from three ACL tears during his career, too. And even if the 6-foot-9 forward does not get drafted or isn’t presented with an NBA free-agent deal, he’ll presumably have options overseas.
But his departure will raise some serious depth questions for the Jays’ frontcourt.
Sophomore-to-be Christian Bishop displayed growth late last year, and CU will return sophomore Jacob Epperson, who missed most of last season with back and knee injuries. But Epperson is expected to spend most of the offseason rehabbing. Freshman Samson Froling decided after last season to turn pro in his native Australia.
Bishop is currently the Jays’ only healthy scholarship player taller than 6-foot-6.
But in a recent interview with The World-Herald, coach Greg McDermott indicated that he and his coaching staff had formed potential contingency plans in the event Krampelj turned pro.
“You’re always keeping some irons in the fire — in case,” he said.
The Jays have reached out to Idaho State graduate transfer Kelvin Jones, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The 6-foot-11 Jones is reportedly set to take visits to Virginia Tech and Oregon State.
Replacing Krampelj’s production won’t be easy.
He emerged as maybe CU’s best player as the 2018-19 season progressed — he averaged 16.7 points and 8.2 rebounds during Big East action. His agility as a help defender against ball screens played a critical role in the improvement of Creighton’s defense.
But now he’s taking his skills to the professional level.
His hope is that his athleticism and jump shot will be appealing to teams in this new-age, pace-and-space style of play. Krampelj conducted workouts with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder over the past few weeks.
Mintz has spent the last month going through the draft process as well.
Mintz averaged 10.6 points per game against Big East competition and emerged as the Jays’ top perimeter defender last year, but his performances didn’t catch the attention of draft analysts and experts.
Still, the 6-foot-3 guard said he declared for the draft to get exposed to the process and pick up feedback on his game from additional sources. Mintz spent portions of the past month training with other NBA draft hopefuls at a facility in Indianapolis.
He’s currently the lone scholarship senior returning for the 2019-20 Jays, who will look to improve off last year’s 20-15 season.
Several national analysts were predicting that Creighton could be a preseason top 25 team next year. The Jays still will return six of their top seven scorers. But the outside expectations will likely change a bit now that Krampelj won’t be on the roster.