June 15, 2024

Alex Karaban withdraws from NBA Draft, will return to UConn: Why it’s big for the Huskies


The two-time defending champions got a major boost Wednesday as UConn forward Alex Karaban announced he’s withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft and returning to Storrs for the 2024-25 season.

Karaban, 21, averaged 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds while starting 39 games for UConn last season.

The two-year starter is looking to continue his 12 straight NCAA Tournament victories. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward is 16-1 in postseason play over the Huskies championship runs.

The Huskies’ quest for a three-peat has legitimacy, as they signed five-star McDonald’s All-American forward Liam McNeeley, top-40 recruit Ahmad Nowell and two key portal additions in Aidan Mahaney (Saint Mary’s) and Tarris Reed Jr. (Michigan).

NIL (name, image and likeness) deals allow players like Karaban to return to school and improve their draft stock while making as much — or sometimes more — than they would have made on a two-way contract next season. Karaban will likely take on more of an offensive role as the lone returning starter for the Huskies. He’s already proven himself as a shooter, but improving his shooting efficiency — going from 37.9 percent into the 40s — and taking on a higher-usage role inside the offense are areas for growth.

Karaban has mostly been a spot-up shooter and cutter, and the next step would be showing he can take on some playmaking responsibilities. Coach Dan Hurley will likely do everything in his power to stretch Karaban’s role. He’s earned that right and it only helps the selling power of the program the more examples he has of developing pros.

As for UConn, this solidifies this group as a top-10 team in the preseason. The Huskies would have had to rely on one of their unproven sophomores at the four if Karaban had stayed in the draft. Now they have an experienced and proven frontline with Karaban and Samson Johnson.

Required reading

(Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)





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