Ike Diogu was watching the Arizona State women’s basketball team battle North Carolina on Saturday in the NCAA tournament when the student section spotted him and started a chant. "One more year! One more year!"
Just as he has been throughout his three-year ASU basketball career, Diogu was unfazed by the pressure. The junior forward told ASU officials Monday he intends to declare next month for the June 28 NBA draft. While the move could signal the end of his ASU career, Diogu left the door open to a return by declining to hire an agent. Under NCAA rules, once a player hires an agent he forfeits any remaining eligibility.
Diogu said Monday in a release he wants to keep his options open.
"He asked me what I thought, and I told him you need to test the water and see what’s going on," said ASU coach Rob Evans, who sat down with Diogu and his parents last week.
"As his dad says, ‘Ike’s going to be a player on the next level. It’s just a matter of when.’ "
Diogu has been projected as high as an NBA lottery pick and as low as a late first-round pick, meaning his contract would be guaranteed over three years.
But there are questions about his height. Diogu, 6-foot-8, has spent his ASU career playing close to the basket. Some scouts think he might need more of a perimeter game to succeed in the NBA.
Diogu helped that cause by shooting 40 percent (18-of-45) on 3-pointers this season, but he still may need work on his ballhandling skills.
"Ike’s a smart kid," Evans said. "He knows where he needs improvement and he’s continued to work on that."
Diogu does not plan to attend any of the NBA draft camps, but he will participate in private workouts for NBA teams. Underclassmen have until May 14 to declare for the draft, but they can remove their names up until June 21.
Diogu led the Pac-10 in scoring (22.6 points per game) and rebounding (9.8 rpg) this season, becoming the first Pac-10 player in 20 years to accomplish the feat. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year and an All-American. If Diogu does leave, his absence could prove devastating to an ASU squad that finished this season tied for sixth in the Pac-10 and missed the NCAA tournament. ASU also loses senior guards Jason Braxton and Steve Moore.