July 15, 2024

2024 NBA Draft: Caleb Love withdraws, will return to Arizona for its first season in Big 12


One of the most well-known shooting guards in college basketball is coming back for one last season. Arizona senior Caleb Love announced Wednesday that he will not pursue an NBA career this year and is instead opting back in for a second year at Arizona, which will be his fifth and final season in college. 

Love began college life at North Carolina — where he helped the Tar Heels reach the 2022 national championship game — before transferring in 2023 to Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats. He averaged 18.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists on an Arizona team that won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 2 seed in the West Region.

Love, a CBS Sports Third Team All-American last season, joins UNC’s RJ Davis (his former teammate), KansasHunter Dickinson and Alabama’s Mark Sears as returning All-Americans to men’s college basketball for 2024-25. 

In getting Love back, Arizona’s viability in its first season in the Big 12 will spike. The Wildcats had the 11th-ranked offense and 10th-ranked defense in college basketball last season, according to KenPom.com. Love could be in contention to lead the conference in scoring. He’ll be surrounded by key transfers: Trey Townsend (Horizon League Player of the Year at Oakland last season), Anthony Dell’Orso (20.2 ppg at Campbell) and Tobe Awaka (defensive big via Tennessee). 

Love will return to play alongside Jaden Bradley again, a pairing that could prove crucial for the Wildcats’ chemistry and consistency in a new/tougher conference next season. There was a plot twist that came with Love’s decision to stay in Tucson: Four-star incoming freshman Joson Sanon flipped his commitment from U of A to rival Arizona State. Sanon plays shooting guard, just like Love. The late-stage switch will add intrigue to an always-healthy rivalry. 

Even without Sanon, Arizona’s chances at being a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for a fourth straight season under Lloyd are now a possibility thanks to Love’s decision to come back. He’s a ball-dominant guard who can be a streaky player, but his shooting range and penchant for putting up points makes Arizona a dangerous team — potentially one that will again crack top-10 status.

Love has played 137 games in his career. If he has a full, healthy run in 2024-25 — and a deep NCAA Tournament run — he’ll flirt with the NCAA record for most games played by a Division I player.