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Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi declares for NBA draft

Mar 30, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi (11) against the Southern California Trojans during the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi declared for the NBA draft on Friday and his college career is over.

The school said that Ayayi will hire an agent and focus on his professional career and bypass his senior season with the Bulldogs.

“I’m so happy for Joel, as he takes the next step in his career,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in a news release. “He has had a huge impact on our program, with his steady improvement from year to year, and his ability to make winning plays in so many different ways. His leadership every day, enthusiasm, and ability to be such a great teammate is what I will always remember.”

Ayayi, a fourth-year junior, was a key player on a Gonzaga team that reached the NCAA title game this season before losing 86-70 to Baylor.

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The 6-foot-5 Ayayi shot 57.5 percent from the field and averaged 12 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists this season. He is projected to be a late first-round draft choice.

“After discussing with my family, I’ve decided to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA,” Ayayi said in his announcement. “My four years at Gonzaga have been unforgettable and some of the most special times in my life. I’d like to thank everyone at GU, especially the coaching staff, and all of my teammates that have become brothers to me.

“To all of Zag Nation and the people of Spokane, thank you for all of the love and support. You will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m honored to be a Zag forever.”

Ayayi made program history earlier this season when he notched the first triple-double in school history by recording 12 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists in a 116-88 victory over Portland on Jan. 9. The assists total was two shy of the school record set by Blake Stepp, who had 16 against Long Beach State on Dec. 20 2002.

Related: 2021 NBA mock draft – Top prospects, top landing spots

–Field Level Media