Gonzaga Star Joel Ayayi Declares for 2021 NBA Draft

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Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi declared for the 2021 NBA Draft on Friday evening, electing to skip his senior season. The school announced that he will hire an agent. 

"My four years at Gonzaga have been unforgettable and some of the most special times in my life," Ayayi said. "I'm honored to be a Zag forever."

The redshirt junior was a finalist for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, and averaged 12.0 points per game on 57.5% shooting from the field. Ayayi's 6.8 rebounds per game were second on the team as the Bulldogs embarked on an undefeated regular season and advanced to the NCAA championship, where they lost to Baylor.

BISHOP: How Joel Ayayi Blossomed Into Gonzaga's Unsung Hero

The French native recorded the first triple-double in program history on Jan. 9, scoring all 12 of his points in the first half, grabbing 13 rebounds and tallying a career-high 14 assists. In a game against Iowa, he accumulated 18 rebounds—the most by a Gonzaga guard since the program moved to Division I in 1958-59.

"I'm so happy for Joel as he takes the next step in his career," head coach Mark Few said. "He has had a huge impact on our program, with his steady improvement from year to year, and his ability to make winning plays in so many different ways. His leadership every day, enthusiasm, and ability to be such a great teammate is what I will always remember."

Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo predicted in his latest mock draft that Ayayi will be selected No. 24 overall by the Nuggets. 

The deadline for early entrants to declare for the draft is May 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The lottery will be conducted on June 22 and air on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The draft itself will be held on July 29 at 8 p.m. with the first round televised on ESPN and ABC. Both the draft and the combine will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.