After taking us all on a month-long emotional roller coaster ride in which every invite to a team workout and every Twitter avatar change became a reason for panic, Jalen McDaniels is coming back for his sophomore season at San Diego State.
In an extremely SDSU student move, McDaniels waited until the last moment to complete his assignment, announcing his withdrawal from the NBA Draft with barely an hour to go before the deadline. Been there, man.
As someone who wraps up way too much of his identity and self-worth into the fate of my alma mater’s sports teams, I’m obviously somewhat in favor of this decision.
McDaniels has seemingly only scratched the surface of his potential. We watched him improve in real time last year, going from a guy fighting for minutes on a team going nowhere to a catalyst on a run to the NCAA Tournament. If he continues this trajectory — and fills his wiry frame out more over the summer — he could be downright Kawhi-ian*.
The alternate timeline here was dark as shit. Without McDaniels, the Aztecs would’ve needed to rely heavily on untested freshmen in the frontcourt, making it essentially a bridge year to Malachi Flynn. Instead, with the inside-outside combo of McDaniels and senior guard Devin Watson, the Aztecs are clear March Madness contenders once again.
But setting my Aztec fanboy self-interest aside for a moment, I sincerely hope this season is McDaniels’ last on Montezuma Mesa. Let’s hope this time next year, he’s deciding what kind of car/condo/speedboat to purchase with his first-round draft pick money.
Barring catastrophe, I have a hard time imaging he won’t be ready come 2019. And if McDaniels does play himself into the first round, he will have taken us all on a really fun ride.
In other draft news from the Mountain West Conference, the Martin twin Voltron is also returning to Nevada.
The Wolve Pack’s roster appears stacked beyond comprehension. Who knows how many Nevada fans in other hemispheres will be staying up late to inspire the team to great feats now?
Buckle up, friends. This should be fun.
*SDSU Kawhi, not Spurs Kawhi obvi.