French guard Elie Okobo has submitted paperwork making himself eligible for the 2018 NBA draft, his agent, Herman Manakyan, informed ESPN.
"I decided to enter the draft because I think it's a good year for me," Okobo told ESPN. "I'm progressing every day and I see how I'm continuing to improve. I am very happy with the training I have received at Pau-Lacq-Orthez, and I know I will improve even more with NBA conditions and NBA training.
"This was not a difficult decision for me. I am confident in my abilities and I am focused on my goal of playing in the NBA."
Okobo, 20, is currently the No. 38 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, and he's considered a potential first-round pick by NBA teams.
"As I look at the field, I am confident I am one of the best point guards in the draft," Okobo told ESPN.
Okobo, a 6-foot-3 point guard, is having one of the most productive seasons in French ProA history for a draft-eligible player, averaging 13.2 points and 4.4 assists in 27 minutes per game for Pau-Orthez. He is shooting 57 percent overall, including 38 percent from 3-point range.
Okobo made his debut with the French senior national team in November and became a part of the team's rotation during the recent FIBA World Cup qualification window in February. In a league typically dominated by Americans, he is currently the only French player in ProA leading his team in scoring.
Pau-Orthez is currently 14-13, tied for eighth place, which would qualify for the playoffs in late May should it maintain that position.
Okobo has attracted significant attention this season from NBA scouts, not just due to his productivity but also his size, 6-8 wingspan and scoring instincts. He's a fluid athlete who plays above the rim regularly, changes speeds smoothly in the open floor, is a prolific pick-and-roll player who can find the open man and has proven to be a capable shot-maker, pulling up off the dribble from long vantage points.
"I hope to show NBA teams in workouts how my game has matured, thanks to the experience I have gained from playing in a very high-level league with outstanding players, with a leadership role at such a young age," Okobo told ESPN.
Okobo entered and withdrew from the 2017 NBA draft, but he looks like a strong candidate to keep his name in this year at the June 11 early-entry deadline. He will likely need the extra 10 days between the deadline and draft night to travel around the United States for private workouts if his team makes the playoffs in late May.
"I plan to leave for the USA immediately after my season here, to train and prepare for the individual workouts," Okobo told ESPN. "The workouts I went to last year were a great experience, and I know much better what to expect from the process.
"I plan to show teams that I have the right level to play in the NBA, and show my intensity and determination. I plan to stay in the draft to the end this season. I am confident this is the right time for me, and I am already receiving very strong feedback from the teams that have come to see me play this season. I hope to land with a team that is serious about player development that will help me to continue improving my skills."