Arizona’s Lewis returning after mulling NBA draft

NCAA Basketball

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Arizona guard KJ Lewis, a projected top-20 pick in the 2025 NBA draft, announced Friday he is returning to the Wildcats for his sophomore season.

Lewis entered the NBA draft after the season but turned down an invite to this month’s G League Elite Camp, an early sign he planned to come back to college.

A 6-foot-4 guard, Lewis is ranked No. 19 in ESPN’s 2025 NBA draft rankings. He came off the bench last season for Arizona but showed flashes of the talent that has NBA evaluators so intrigued. He had 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a win over UCLA; 15 points and 6 boards in the Pac-12 tournament against USC; and had three double-figure scoring games over a five-game stretch in late January and early February.

Lewis averaged 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds on the season.

With Pelle Larsson leaving for the NBA and Kylan Boswell transferring to Illinois, Lewis is expected to move into the starting lineup for the 2024-25 season. Which players are alongside Lewis on the perimeter will be determined by whether star guard Caleb Love chooses to stay in the NBA draft or return to Tucson for his final season. An All-American last season, Love’s decision could go either way.

Coach Tommy Lloyd has prepared for a potential departure with the additions of Campbell transfer Anthony Dell’Orso and ESPN 100 recruits Joson Sanon and Jamari Phillips, but Love’s return would make Arizona a surefire preseason top-10 team.

The Wildcats are set to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis alongside fellow preseason top-20 teams Gonzaga and Indiana, and will also host preseason top-10 team Duke in November.

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