FGCULocalSports

FGCU’s Zach Johnson one of two Eagles to declare for NBA Draft

Johnson and Haanif Cheatham have both declared; neither have hired an agent

Lee Herald Favicon 16Rising senior Zach Johnson is expected to be the cornerstone of the FGCU men’s basketball team next season.

If there is a next season, at least.

Johnson appears to be testing the professional waters this summer, announced that he intends to declare for the NBA Draft on Friday, he said on Twitter.

“I have decided to enter the NBA draft[sic] with intent to not hire an agent,” Johnson tweeted Friday morning. “Therefore, my last year of college eligibility will not be compromised. Thank you everybody that has supported and helped me get to this point.”

 

A relatively recent change to the NCAA rules in 2016 allows players to declare for the NBA Draft without foregoing their amateur status. As long as a player doesn’t hire an agent and pulls their name by June 11, they can maintain their college eligibility.

The change was designed to allow college players who might have professional prospects the opportunity to determine their likelihood of getting drafted without committing to leaving college.

“With this being the third year of the new NCAA rules in place, it’s a great way for both Zach and Haanif to see just where they stand relative to their peers,” FGCU coach Joe Dooley said. “It affords them the opportunity to potentially work out in front of NBA teams and scouts, in addition to learning what areas they might need to improve while not losing their collegiate eligibility.”

Johnson, and Marquette transfer Haanif Cheatham, are the third and fourth FGCU players to declare for the draft under this rule. Brandon Goodwin did before this past season, while Marc-Eddy Norelia did in 2016. Both eventually returned for their senior seasons.

A redshirt junior for the Eagles this season, Johnson averaged 16.1 points per game, second on the team behind Goodwin. In FGCU’s 108-96 loss to Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun tournament final, Johnson tied a school record with 37 points, including nine threes as the Eagles trimmed a 32-point deficit in the second half to five.

Cheatham announced his transfer from Marquette in December. He started 63 games there and would be eligible to play for FGCU no later than after the fall semester, though there were talks of getting a NCAA waiver to make him eligible to start the season. Cheatham started Maruqette’s first five games this season before transferring.


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