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WSU Men's Basketball

CJ Elleby becomes first Washington State player since Klay Thompson to nab Combine invite

Washington State forward CJ Elleby, left, grabs a rebound near guard Noah Williams during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game \S| in Pullman, Wash., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.  (Associated Press)

There’s no certainty the NBA will hold its annual predraft combine this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but if the annual event does occur, Washington State star CJ Elleby will have an opportunity to partake after accepting an invitation Tuesday.

Elleby’s participation in the combine is likely contingent on the decision the Seattle native will have to make before Monday, the last day for underclassmen to withdraw their name from the NBA draft.

The NBA still hasn’t set a date for the combine, so unless the league moves the withdrawal date for college underclassmen such as Elleby, the WSU forward would only be eligible to participate if he keeps his name in the draft.

The NBA draft is slated for Oct. 16, meaning the combine would take place a few weeks prior, and perhaps as early as next month.

Most other years, the combine not only acts as a tool for NBA teams but helps underclassmen inform decisions on staying in school versus fully declaring for the NBA. During the four-day event, players go through an assortment of physical tests, interviews and scrimmages in front of NBA scouts, coaches and general managers.

Multiple reports last week indicated 105 players were in the pool of potential scouting combine candidates, but according to those reports, the NBA could take a much smaller group depending on how many players teams felt they needed to see.

Whether Elleby participates or not, it’s a prestigious honor for the All-Pac-12 first-team selection, and it’s also significant for WSU, which hasn’t had a player invited to the event since Klay Thompson in 2011.

The 6-foot-7 wing hasn’t given many hints as to whether he’s planning to leave for the NBA or, similar to Thompson in 2010-11, return to school for his junior season. Elleby has stated he’s seeking a guaranteed contract and only plans on pursuing professional basketball if he knows at least one team intends on drafting him.

As a sophomore, Elleby led the Cougars in scoring at 18 points per game and became the third-fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 points, hitting the mark on his birthday in WSU’s road win over Washington. Elleby also led the Cougars in rebounds (7.8), steals (1.7) and blocks (0.8). to become the first player in school history to lead his team in the four major categories.

His return could be substantial for a team that loses two senior starters in Jeff Pollard and Jervae Robinson but returns a handful of key pieces, including guards Isaac Bonton and Noah Williams, along with forward Tony Miller. The Cougars also bring in one of the most impressive recruiting class in school history, front-loaded with four-star recruits in Andrej Jakimovski, Carlos Rosario and Dishon Jackson.