After testing the NBA draft process during the last few weeks, NC State basketball senior guard Markell Johnson has announced that he will put the NBA on hold and return to Raleigh for his senior season.
Johnson entered the NBA draft process in early April and worked out for several teams, including the Charlotte Hornets, but was ultimately not offered a spot in the NBA Combine or an opportunity to participate in the new NBA G-League Camp.
“I want to thank my family, my coaches and teammates at NC State for the support they’ve given me while I gathered feedback on where I am as a player, and where I need to improve,” Johnson said in a statement on Twitter. “It has always been my dream to play in the NBA and it still is, but at this time I have decided to [withdraw] my name from the draft and return for my senior season. I’m excited about what we have returning and ready to join my teammates to get NC State back to the NCAA Tournament.”
Last season Johnson was the second-highest scoring player for the Wolfpack behind now-graduated guard Torin Dorn, averaging 12.6 points per game. Despite missing multiple games due to injury, Johnson also had a team-high 139 assists across the season.
Johnson’s impact, however, went beyond statistics as the team struggled significantly when the point guard missed a stretch of games due to injury. Johnson missed just three games due to a back injury, but the Wolfpack was a different team without the electric guard. The stretch included losses to Wake Forest and Louisville, with the sole win of the stretch coming against Notre Dame.
“I will always support our players in gathering information to make the best decisions for their future,” head coach Kevin Keatts told NC State Athletics. “Markell got valuable feedback and has made the decision to return to NC State for his senior season. We certainly get much stronger as a program with his return, and look forward to seeing him back on the court.”
The Wolfpack won Johnson’s return game against Clemson where the guard played 23 minutes and scored a team-high 16 points. Johnson may have been overshadowed on the night by a Braxton Beverly buzzer beater, but without the guard’s contribution, the game would have been very different.
With the status of recruit guard Jalen Lecque up in the air in regards of the NBA draft, losing Johnson would have been devastating for a Wolfpack squad that is shorthanded in the ball-handling department.
Johnson will return to a Wolfpack team that welcomes back eight players from the 2018-19 squad and will likely be adding a couple more impact transfers after already landing Lehigh graduate transfer Pat Andree.