Jordan McRae only flirted.
The Tennessee guard took his NBA dream for a few dates. Options were considered.
That’s where it ended it, though. The NBA isn’t ready for McRae. McRae isn’t ready for the NBA.
“I’m not ready for my experience at Tennessee to be over,” McRae said in a UT press release on Saturday morning.
Ending speculation that he’d enter his name in the draft, McRae went to the airways on Tennessee Sports Radio. He told UT fans of his decision to return for a senior season during a Saturday morning interview with Steven Pearl, a former Vol and son of ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, who originally recruited McRae to Knoxville.
The press release from UT coincided with the announcement.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of next year’s team, because I think we have a chance to have a great season,” McRae said in the release. “I also think there are aspects of my game I can improve by spending another year with my coaches and teammates here at Tennessee.”
McRae based much of his decision on conversations with head coach Cuonzo Martin and advice from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.
“I felt like it (returning to UT) was the right decision, but I told him it was up to him,” Martin told the News Sentinel on Saturday. “If he was going to be a first-round pick, well then you have to go be that.”
Martin said McRae’s evaluation from the Advisory Committee offered no negative reviews, but there was no guarantee of being a first-round selection.
“The consensus was, barring any major injury, that if he continues to progress the way he’s progressing, he’ll have the opportunity to be an NBA player for quite awhile,” Martin said, adding, “A couple teams said that the thing they need to see is Jordan continuing his maturation. They like that he’s continued to improve his scoring every year.”
McRae increased his scoring from 1.8 points per game as a freshman to 8.6 as a sophomore and to 15.7 as a junior. He’ll be considered one of the SEC’s top returning players next season.
With McRae back in the fold, all attention now shifts to sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes. His decision to return to UT or enter the draft is still pending.
Stokes has received and is reviewing his evaluation from the Advisory Committee.
“I don’t have an answer,” Martin said. “I’ll take his word for it that’s he’s 50-50 right now.”
The NBA’s deadline to declare for the draft is April 28.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.