Josh Minott entering NBA draft, will keep college eligibility but not returning to Memphis

Josh Minott connects on alley-oop slam (0:25)

Josh Minott connects on alley-oop slam (0:25)

Memphis freshman Josh Minott is entering the 2022 NBA draft and will initially maintain his college eligibility, he told ESPN on Thursday. He said he has no plans to return to the Tigers.

"I don't plan to need my eligibility," Minott said. "My work ethic and talent should be able to propel me to a standing in the draft I'm comfortable with."

Minott, the No. 54 prospect in the ESPN 100, was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Freshman team after averaging 6.6 points on 52.2% shooting with 3.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game for Memphis.

His playing time fluctuated this season as Memphis returned most of its roster from a team that won the NIT in 2021 and often opted for older, more experienced frontcourt options. Minott played 25 minutes in total in the team's last four games and will likely be one of several key departures for the Tigers this offseason.

"At Memphis what they needed was sacrifice, to wait my turn. I knew we had a loaded roster coming in and that I'd be pushed every day to get better," Minott said. "You have to adapt to your environment and keep working no matter what toward the ultimate goals and keep pushing toward that. I feel like I could have shown more with that talent I know I have. But that's what the future is for."

Minott did have several impressive showings when given the opportunity, especially during a key stretch in January when he was inserted into the starting lineup due to injuries and earned American freshman of the week honors three times that month.

"I plan to be like Josh Primo [a surprise No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft] coming out of the woodwork this spring," Minott said. "I will listen to the NBA's feedback. If they feel I'm a first-round talent and want to invest in me, that would be the best situation."

Minott is intriguing to NBA teams not only because of his youth and upside but also his ability to play multiple positions and budding passing ability. He shows promising footwork, body control and quickness getting off his feet, along with soft touch from the free throw line and around the rim. He is highly competitive on both ends of the floor, is a magnet for fouls attacking the rim, has the ability to defend on the perimeter and is constantly around the ball as a cutter and offensive rebounder.

"In terms of showcasing to NBA teams what I can do, it's just a mental thing, flipping that switch, rebalancing, rediscovering my confidence and getting better every day," he said. "Sometimes throughout the season I was performing at a level below what I knew I could do. It was a mindset. It's exciting now to show people the kind of player I am. I've been proving people wrong and climbing up the ranks my whole life. I did it throughout high school, and I'm going to do it again now."

Memphis is coming off an eventful season that featured significant turbulence with a 9-8 start and criticism pointed toward coach Penny Hardaway, but the Tigers rebounded and surged into the postseason with a trip to the AAC championship game and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They defeated Boise State in the first round and were up 10 at halftime on No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga before bowing out 82-78.

The NBA draft combine will be held May 16-22 in Chicago, and the draft will be held June 23 in Brooklyn.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.