Creighton guard Ty-Shon Alexander, who declared for the NBA draft Friday, thinks he’s ready to start his professional basketball career.
He’s just not sure what the experts think about that.
So he’ll be spending the next few weeks trying to get as much feedback as possible. From scouts. From agents. From mentors.
What he learns will help determine his next step: remain in the NBA draft or return to Creighton for his senior season.
No final decision has been made, but during a Friday night Zoom call with reporters, Alexander said that he’s leaning toward the pros. Ultimately, though, the Bluejays’ leading scorer said this is a win-win scenario for him.
“If I have an opportunity to go back (to Creighton), it’s going to be amazing,” Alexander said. “If I don’t go back, it’s still going to be amazing. I’m going to miss everybody. But I’m going to have to put my own work in.”
He has until early June to make a decision — though that NCAA-mandated deadline could change because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the predraft process.
It’s possible that the NBA combine and the teams’ on-site workouts won’t happen as planned, if at all. The draft reportedly could get pushed back to August.
Alexander said he’d prefer not to wait that long. He hopes to inform coach Greg McDermott of his decision in May.
“Coach Mac told me he still has one more scholarship,” Alexander said. “He’s going to hold it for a while.”
There’s definitely an allure to returning to school, Alexander said.
He’d get to make one final run with his teammates — the Jays have been projected as a preseason top-five team with the All-Big East first-teamer in the fold. He could learn more from the Creighton coaches. He could get his degree. He could stay connected to an Omaha community that he adores.
“It’d be fun to come back and play with that group of guys, and potentially make a big run in March Madness,” Alexander said. “It would be extremely hard to leave my guys. It’d hurt a lot because I love everybody in the city.”
But he’s also on the doorstep of a dream.
Playing in the NBA has always been a goal for Alexander, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and spent two years at renowned hoops factory Oak Hill Academy.
And he’s aware that he still has plenty of work to do.
Alexander said his early read is that he’d either be a mid-to-late second-round draft pick or he’d go undrafted. He indicated that he’s comfortable with the idea of working his way into the NBA through the G League — it could be a two-year process, he said.
That’s not an uncommon perspective among his peers.
More college players seem to be leaving school early, even without a guaranteed draft position. According to a recent 247Sports report, a record-tying 40 nonseniors were selected in the 2019 draft. But 44 other underclassmen went undrafted.
Alexander thinks his ultimate pro potential is high, assuming he continues on his recent track of improvement.
“I have another step in my game where I know I can get better,” Alexander said. “I feel like I can keep making jumps — I can get stronger, I can get faster.”
Alexander did note that if evaluators identify weaknesses that could be best addressed in college, that would factor heavily into his decision.
He’s also interested to hear from agents.
An NCAA rule change allows prospective draftees to temporarily hire a certified agent to help navigate the predraft process. But as multiple media outlets reported last month, many of the NBA’s more established agents didn’t go through the NCAA’s new certification process.
Alexander said if he signed a certified agent, the likelihood of a return to college would be higher. Seventy percent, he said.
Alexander also said he intends to reach out to former Creighton players with NBA experience. He’ll keep consulting with his parents. He has had in-depth conversations with McDermott and his AAU coach, Jeff McInnis.
Already, though, he can start to visualize what it would be like to be a professional basketball player.
“That’s going to be my main focus, that’s going to be my job. I would have to put everything, my mindset, on playing the game of basketball,” Alexander said. “If I had a chance to play in the NBA right now, I would work my hardest every single day.”
The two Creighton guards who recently left the program to enter the transfer portal have found new homes.