Malik Pope declares for NBA Draft, will not hire an agent

by Ryan Posner , Sports Editor

Arguably nobody finished the 2015-16 season hotter for the San Diego State men’s basketball team than sophomore forward Malik Pope.

Pope has now parlayed the late push into a possible early NBA entrance, as he officially declared for the NBA Draft Tuesday, but will not hire an agent, according to SDSU.

Because Pope is not hiring an agent, he has the option to come back to school, but must decide by May 27.

Now that he has declared, Pope will be able to participate in the NBA Draft Combine May 11-15 in Chicago, if he gets invited.

Due to the fact that he missed time his freshman year because of a leg injury, and then got off to a slow start in 2015-16, his draft stock is mysterious. Some draft analysts have him as a lottery pick, while others have him going in the second round, and even undrafted.

The 6-foot-10 forward has shown off his freaky athletic ability in his time at SDSU with his ability to go up and get rebounds and throw down dunks in heavy traffic.

His shot came to form late in the season after struggling mightily from behind the arc to begin the year.

He finished with a double-double in three of the team’s last five games and scored in double digits in seven of the last nine games.

After freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley’s foot injury on Feb. 10 at Fresno State forced him out of the starting lineup, Pope took over a starting role and never gave it back up.

His 7.3 points per game were fifth-best on the team, even though he only started 16 of 38 games. He was also fourth on the team with five rebounds per game.

Pope was one of the most highly regarded recruits in SDSU’s history, gaining five stars and being ranked as the No. 17 player in his class by Rivals.

The last men’s basketball player to leave early for the draft was Jamaal Franklin, who was selected with the No. 41 overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies.