Auburn's Allen Flanigan is returning for his junior college hoops season

Auburn sophomore small forward Allen Flanigan -- a projected second-round pick -- told ESPN he will return for his junior season and not enter the NBA draft.

"I have decided to return to Auburn for my junior year to be a part of something special. Family is key to me, and I've grown closer and closer to call the Plains a home away from home," Flanigan told ESPN. "The tremendous unwavering support these fans and university show is one of a kind and one of the best in the country. The NBA has always been my lifelong dream and goal, but I couldn't pass up being a part of something special."

Flanigan, who is younger than many freshmen currently projected to be drafted, having yet to turn 20, was ranked the No. 54 prospect in the ESPN 100 prior to withdrawing from consideration. He is projected as the No. 17 pick in the ESPN 2022 mock draft.

Flanigan, a son of Auburn assistant coach and former All-SEC point guard Wes Flanigan, is one of the most physically gifted prospects in the SEC, standing 6-foot-6 with a strong frame, a long wingspan and explosive leaping ability.

He broke out in a major way as a sophomore, posting 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists after averaging just 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman. His perimeter shooting, once considered a significant weakness, improved by leaps and bounds, as he converted 34% of his attempts from beyond the arc and 78% from the line this year.

Flanigan also showcased deep range on his pull-up jumper as well as impressive vision passing out of pick-and-roll. These are things that could be honed into significant weapons as a junior, which should see him emerge as a strong candidate for preseason SEC player of the year honors and a potential All-America year.

"My best basketball is still ahead of me. I wanted a chance to come back and not only improve as a player, but most importantly as a person," Flanigan said. "Things I look to improve on are my assist-to-turnover ratio, as well as making more plays defensively, and continuing to grow as a leader and affect winning more. I can definitely make a jump during my junior season, but it doesn't have to be from a statistical standpoint. I want to become a more complete and consistent player and person."