Reigning WAC Player of The Year Pascal Siakam announced on Wednesday that he would keep his name in the NBA Draft, ending his collegiate career. Last season, the 6'9, 230-lb sophomore spearheaded New Mexico State's charge toward a WAC regular-season championship, which culminated in an NIT appearance.
Though the Aggies suffered a 58-56 loss to St. Mary's in first-round NIT play, this ill-fated finale could not detract from Siakam's stellar sophomore campaign. During his final year in Las Cruces, Siakam averaged 20.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and one steal per game. The 22-year-old Cameroon native's blend of two-way excellence was enough to earn a coveted NBA Draft Combine invitation.
As a combine participant, Siakam made a solid impression. His vertical leap, lane agility and physical dimensions placed him in the upper-echelon of the 60-plus invitees. Siakam completed workouts and interviews for multiple NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans.
In addition to his skilled, high-energy style of play, Siakam's 7'3 wingspan and 36-inch vertical leap prompted Suns assistant general manager Pat Connelly to rave about the mid-major standout's professional potential. Via azcentral:
He earned his career. He’s only a sophomore, but he really took off this year. Great athlete. Really gets up and down the court but you could see his skill, going from Year 1 to Year 2, take a big jump. He did a good job of working to develop everything to complement being obviously a really good athlete.
Though Siakam improved greatly from his first to second seasons, he was the 2015 WAC Freshman of the Year and averaged 12.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks while leading New Mexico State to the NCAA Tournament. Ahead of his upcoming road to the NBA Draft, Siakam offered these candid observations to azcentral regarding his development:
"It just shows that hard work pays off. I’m working really hard for this. I’m not even here yet, but you can just see how I’ve developed every year and all the progress that I made. I’m proud of myself. When you see that, you just don’t want to stop working. I just want to keep working and keep getting better, and I’m always going to get better."
There is little doubt of Siakam's rapid on-court growth. This past season, the Aggie star ranked eighth nationally in rebounds, while posting a nation-high 27 double-doubles. Draft boards such as NBADraft.net have Siakam rated as a late first round selection. NBA scouts and general managers are intrigued with Siakam's potential as a high-motor defender and aggressive rebounder.
Siakam, who is one of four brothers to play collegiately, is expected to become the first New Mexico State Aggie to be drafted since NBA champion Randy Brown in 1991. Siakam's former Aggie teammate, Ian Baker, withdrew his name from the NBA Draft and will return to New Mexico State for his senior season.