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Tilmon, Smith, Pinson to test NBA Draft waters

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The Missouri trio will enter their names into the Draft but will take the steps to maintain college eligibility.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Though the way this year’s NBA Draft will be structured is still unclear, we now know that three Missouri players will be among the names in the draft pool.

On Tuesday, MU revealed Jeremiah Tilmon, Mitchell Smith and Xavier Pinson would test the draft waters while still maintaining their college eligibility. All three will be able to return to college as long as they withdraw their names from the Draft by the June 3 deadline.

“I’m very supportive of all three of them going through this to receive key information from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and greatly benefit from the process,” head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I know they each have goals to pursue professional basketball at the highest levels and this is a significant step in that journey. We’ll help them in any way we can.”

Tilmon is the sole player of the trio who has attempted to enter his name into a past Draft, when a paperwork error prevented him from doing so in 2019. He missed most of SEC play this past season with a foot injury, playing a combined 19 minutes through the first 14 games before returning for the final four games of the season. He averaged 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in just 17 games.

Smith had a career year as a redshirt junior, setting career-highs in points (5.1), rebounds (4.0) and minutes (21.9) per game, and he shot 85.4% from the free throw line as he earned a long-term starting role in Martin’s system.

Pinson was the team’s breakout star this past season, also averaging career-highs in points (11.1), assists (2.8), rebounds (2.8) and minutes (24.0) per game. He averaged 13.3 points per game in conference play and scored in double digits 10 times. Beginning with a Feb. 1 loss to South Carolina — in which he took over for an injured Mark Smith in the starting lineup — Pinson averaged 17.3 points over the final 11 games of the season.

The three players will have roughly two months to either stay in the Draft or withdraw his name.