Justin Patton’s rapid rise through the basketball ranks continues.
The freshman big man will declare for the NBA draft with the intention of signing with an agent, sources confirmed to NBCSports.com.
Patton went from a relatively unheralded recruit to top-100 prospect while a prep in Omaha, but still redshirted his initial college season of 2015-16 before wowing scouts and the rest of the sport alike with his dynamic play for the Bluejays.
The 7-footer averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks this season for Creighton. He’s considered a potential lottery pick given his size and skill set.
His departure is a considerable blow for Creighton, which appeared to have a dream season shaping up in 2016-17 before Maurice Watson tore his ACL in January and later was accused of sexual assault.
Marcus Foster will return for his senior season after rehabbing his game and image during his junior season with Creighton. He averaged 18.2 points in his first year with the Bluejays after transferring from Kansas State.
The Vertical’s Sham Charania was the first to report on Patton’s decision.
Creighton received a verbal commitment from Justin Patton, a 6-foot-10 2015 center from Omaha North High (Nebraska). This was first reported by Nebraska High School Hoops on Tuesday evening, followed by multiple reports that confirmed the commitment.
“I really worked on my game since last summer,” Patton told Nebraska High School Hoops. “I am excited about the opportunity to play at Creighton. It gives me a chance to play in front of my family at the highest level. My goal is to play at the highest level I possibly can, and Creighton allows me to do that.”
In its first year as a member of the Big East, Creighton finished second in the conference standings. Despite making a third straight NCAA tournament, the Bluejays failed to get past the first weekend. Without National Player of the Year Doug McDermott, and three other starters, Creighton will likely take a step back this upcoming season.
Patton is technically the first commit in Creighton’s 2015 recruiting class. However, head coach Greg McDermott has been active this spring, putting pieces together for the 2015-2016 season. Point guard Mo Watson Jr. (Boston University) and power forward Cole Huff (Nevada) have both transferred into the program and will be eligible after sitting out next season, due to NCAA transfer rules.
As a junior, Patton averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds.