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Yves Pons Declares for 2020 NBA Draft

Photo by Kenny Richmond/RTI

The 2019-20 SEC Defensive Player of the Year in men’s basketball has just put his name into the draft pool for the 2020 NBA Draft.

According to Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium.com, Tennessee junior forward Yves Pons has declared for the NBA Draft. Pons has not hired an agent at this time, which means he can still withdraw his name from consideration and return to UT for his senior season if he wishes, as long as he doesn’t hire an agent or only signs with an NCAA-approved agent then terminates his dealings with said agent before returning to school.

The 6-foot-6 forward from France enjoyed a breakout junior season with the Vols in 2019-20, ascending to one of the most important players on the roster.

Pons went from averaging just 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 28 percent from three as a sophomore in the 2018-19 season to averagubg 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds while making 34.9 percent of his threes as a junior. He finished third on the team in scoring, rebounding, and three-point shooting percentage.

The “Flying Frenchman” tied a school record for most blocks in a season by accumulating 73 in 31 games. That mark tied CJ Black’s single-season mark, and Pons’ 2.36 blocks per game finished as the second-best average in a single season in school history, trailing only Black’s 2.52 per game in that same 1997-98 campaign.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports recently included Pons in his mock draft of the 2020 NBA Draft, projecting Pons to be taken early in the second round. Dauster called Pons the “best athlete” and “best defender” in the 2020 pool of draft eligible players.

“Pons is the best athlete and the best defender in this entire 2020 NBA mock draft class,” Dauster wrote. “You often hear things like ‘he can guard all five positions’ which tends to be an exaggeration. Not for Pons. He can, quite literally, guard any point guard, any center and anyone in between. He can play the four, and at times even the five, in small-ball lineups in the NBA to great effect. What makes him even more intriguing is that he shot 42 percent on unguarded catch-and-shoot threes. I think this is the most important number when it comes to his three-point shooting, because these are the face-up, step-in threes that he’ll be shooting at the next level.”

When Pons moved from the three to the four for the Vols prior to this past season, it helped him unlock his potential on offense. Pons was already a good defender in his first couple years, but his offense kept him from a bigger role.

That changed in the 2019-20 season.

Pons scored a total of 94 points in his first 59 games of his career as a Vol. In 31 games this past season, Pons nearly tripled that total with 336 points scored as a junior.

Couple that with his SEC Defensive Player of the Year award, and Pons has a very intriguing skill set for the NBA and possesses a high ceiling.

Right now, the 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25th, but that timeframe is likely to change given the current environment. The 2019-20 NBA season itself hasn’t finished up, as it was postponed indefinitely in March amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also worth noting is the deadline to withdraw from the draft. For now, players have until the end of this weekend, April 26th, to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft, and the withdrawal date to maintain NCAA eligibility is scheduled for June 3rd.

It’s likely that Pons is going through the same process that Admiral Schofield did following the 2017-18 season. Schofield declared for the draft after his junior season and went through the pre-draft process, working out in front of scouts and getting feedback from NBA teams on what he needed to improve.

Ultimately, Schofield came back for his senior season, and he wound up being voted as a First Team All-SEC wing. He was selected in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft with the 42nd overall pick, ending up with the Washington Wizards.

The pre-draft process for this year’s NBA Draft will likely be much different considering the travel restrictions and social distancing rules going on during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Pons should still get valuable feedback from the NBA regardless.

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