Alabama's Joshua Primo, projected first-round pick, opts to stay in NBA draft

Projected first-round pick Joshua Primo has elected to keep his name in the 2021 NBA draft, hiring an agent and forgoing his remaining eligibility at Alabama, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

"Going into this draft, it was a test-the-waters situation, but as time went on and I continued to get feedback, it became more real each and every day," Primo told ESPN. "I'm ready to help a winning franchise. I talked to Coach [Nate] Oats a lot. He wants what's best for me and is right behind me."

Primo told ESPN in April that he was testing the NBA draft waters, but left the option open to return for his sophomore season. After a strong showing at the NBA combine this past week, his stock rose. He is ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the ESPN 100, giving him a good chance to hear his name called in the first round if he continues to perform in private workouts.

Primo surprised some in electing to be a full participant in the combine, taking part in drills and a five-on-five scrimmage, despite most of the players in his draft range electing to sit out.

"I'm at my best when I'm competing," Primo said. "It's fun to compete. I'm never going to back down. I wanted to come in and show the versatility of my game. That was my goal at the combine. They already know I can shoot the ball. They've seen flashes at the Basketball Without Borders Camp of being able to handle the ball and create for myself and my teammates. I thought I showed that again in Chicago."

Primo was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game for Alabama, shooting 38% from 3. He was the youngest player in college basketball this season and is the youngest prospect projected to be drafted, having turned 18 on Dec. 24.

At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Primo is intriguing to NBA teams not just because of his youth, but also because of the fluidity and creativity he shows as a ball handler. He also has upside as a passer as he gains experience, and his dynamic shooting stroke will give him a chance to carve out a role early in his NBA career.

Alabama won the SEC regular-season championship with a 16-2 record in conference play as well as the SEC tournament, earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to UCLA.

"We did some great things at Alabama," Primo said. "This was one of the most fun seasons I've ever played. I loved my teammates; we had great chemistry. It was easy to try and give as much energy as possible and just fall into a role."

Primo said he didn't come into this season expecting it to be his lone year at Alabama but that the possibility of being a first-round pick and going to a playoff team was one he couldn't turn down.

"As a kid, you always see the one-and-dones -- Andrew Wiggins, guys like that. But enrolling as a freshman at Alabama, I had the idea of going for two years and really trying to go for the NBA then," he said. "I told Coach Oats that, but once I communicated with him during this draft process and showed him what I was doing on my side, he was really supportive about everything. It was a difficult decision in the beginning with everyone saying I could be a lottery pick next year."

Primo said that despite his youth he expects to be able to contribute immediately to the team that drafts him.

"I'm ready right now," he said. "My skill set shows it. I can shoot the ball, which opens up my game, creating for teammates, getting downhill and seeing over the top of the defense. On the defensive end I can switch, guard multiple positions and give energy to the team. I'm always going to go out and play hard. I'm confident I'll be able to contribute."