By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Baylor junior forward Johnathan Motley is going to test the NBA waters.
The Houston native announced Monday he is declaring for June’s NBA draft. However, Motley will forgo hiring an agent, making him eligible to return if he pulls out by the May 24 deadline.
Motley helped lead the Bears to their first No. 1 ranking, as well as a spot in the Sweet 16 after being eliminated in the Round of 64 in 2015 and 2016.
Motley led the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game as well as rebounding with 9.9 a game. He became the fourth player in school history to post a game of 30+ points and 20+ rebounds when he scored 32 and grabbed 20 rebounds in a 74-64 win over Texas on Jan. 17.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew gave his full support of Motley’s decision moving forward.
“Johnathan had a tremendous junior season, and he became one of the all-time Baylor greats,” Drew said in a statement. “Entering his name into the draft without hiring an agent gives him a chance to get feedback from NBA teams and make an informed decision for his future. We want what’s best for him and his family — and Baylor Nation will fully support him along the way.”
Motley received All-American Second Team from various outlets including the Associated Press and Sporting News, and Third Team from USA Today. He was also an All-Big 12 First Team unanimous selection from both the coaches and the Associated Press.
Motley was also awarded with the 2017 Karl Malone Award Saturday, which honors the nation’s top power forward. He beat out Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan and UCLA’s TJ Leaf.
Motley was asked to describe Malone and what the award represents.
“Tenacity. Powerful. Greatness,” Motley said.
Drew said that Motley more than fits the attributes of former Utah Jazz power forward Karl Malone.
“Baylor Nation is extremely proud and happy for Johnathan Motley,” Drew said. “Karl Malone signifies hard work and dedication, and Johnathan has followed in those footsteps. He’s done a tremendous job progressing throughout his Baylor career.”
Motley’s decision regarding the draft could be determined in the coming weeks by his health. Our Daily Bears recently reported that Motley underwent surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus that he suffered in Baylor’s 70-50 loss to South Carolina. Four to six weeks of recovery time is expected for this type of injury.
According to DraftExpress.com, Motley is considered a first-round pick or an early second round pick if he keeps his name in consideration.