Maryland men’s basketball guard Eric Ayala has declared for the NBA draft, he announced Friday afternoon on Instagram. He will retain his college eligibility throughout the draft process.
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Ayala led the Terps in scoring last season, averaging 15.1 points per game. He also came in third in rebounds (4.3 per game) and assists (2.2 per game), earning all-Big Ten honorable mention distinction.
The Wilmington, Delaware, native was a constant threat on the perimeter, hitting 33.7 percent of his three-pointers. But it was in the lane that Ayala truly made his mark, using a tight handle and impressive body control to get to the basket. Ayala made 55 percent of his two-point field goals, a career-best mark.
He also showed a penchant for getting to the foul line, knocking down free throws at an 83.1 percent clip. All this amounted to Ayala becoming a pillar of consistency in an ever-changing Maryland lineup.
[Maryland men’s basketball’s Aaron Wiggins declares for NBA draft, will retain eligibility]His game began to flourish after Hakim Hart’s insertion into the starting lineup. Through Hart, Ayala had a perfect foil, a player that drew the defense’s attention and opened up cracks for Ayala to exploit. He scored 21 points in a momentous victory against then-No.17 Minnesota on Jan. 23, setting off a five-win run that helped push the Terps into the NCAA tournament.
And Ayala saved some of his best performances for the postseason, pacing Maryland’s offense with a 21-point display in the Terps’ Big Ten tournament thrashing of Michigan State and dazzling Mackey Arena with a 23-point, five-rebound display in the Terps’ NCAA tournament win over UConn.
Now, he joins fellow junior Aaron Wiggins as an NBA draft hopeful. Both are expected to participate in the NBA draft combine from June 21-27. From there, they will have until July 19 to decide whether to withdraw from NBA draft consideration and return to school.