Published: Monday, August 17, 2020
FAYETTEVILLE — Two-and-a-half weeks after announcing he would return to Arkansas for his junior season, Isaiah Joe changed his mind Monday.
Joe, the Razorbacks’ star shooting guard, is re-entering the 2020 NBA Draft and forgoing his final two years of college eligibility. Although Joe announced he was returning to Arkansas on Aug. 1, he had until Monday to make a final decision on whether to enter the draft.
In order to retain eligibility, college players had to announce their intention to withdraw from the draft by Aug. 3. The NBA’s deadline for early entrants was two weeks later, however, and players are permitted to re-enter the draft.
Joe indicated his decision was influenced by college conferences recently calling off seasons in major sports.
“My announcement on Aug. 1 to return to school for another season as a Razorback was made with whole-hearted excitement and sincerity,” Joe wrote in a post on his Twitter account, “but a lot has happened in a short period of time since then to increase the uncertainty that college sports will be played this season.”
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman released a statement shortly after Joe’s announcement.
“We will always support our players when they decide to chase their NBA dream,” he said. “We will continue to help Isaiah in any way we can and wish him nothing but the best. Zai has cemented his legacy at Arkansas and will forever be a Razorback.”
A former standout and state champion at Fort Smith Northside, Joe averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range in two seasons with the Razorbacks.
As a freshman, Joe set the program’s single-season record for 3-pointers made with 113 while shooting 41.4 percent beyond the arc. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging 13.9 points and 1.5 steals per game.
Despite missing six games as a sophomore due to a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 4, Joe made 94 3-pointers in 2019-20.
He attempted 10.6 3-pointers per game last season (up from 8.0 in 2018-19) and his 275 attempts were tied for ninth-most in college basketball, according to SportsReference.
Arkansas was 1-5 without Joe last season and 19-7 with him in the lineup.
In six games after returning from injury, Joe averaged 20 points, shot 39 percent from the floor, 34.9 percent from 3-point range and made all 34 free throw attempts. He scored 16.9 points and grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game for the season.
Defensively, Joe took a team-high 18 charges (Jimmy Whitt was No. 2 with six) and was second on the team with 44 steals.
Joe is the second Arkansas player to declare early for this year’s NBA Draft. Junior guard Mason Jones, who was the Associated Press co-SEC player of the year, declared in March and signed with an agent in May.
According to ESPN, Jones is the 69th best-available player in the draft and the No. 13 shooting guard. Joe was listed at No. 68 on The Athletic draft analyst Sam Vecenie’s big board on July 29.
Following Joe’s departure, Arkansas stands at 12 scholarship players on its 2020-21 roster, one under the NCAA maximum.