LAFAYETTE – UL-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin had some big news for his Cajuns at the team’s annual end-of-the-year banquet Thursday night: The big man is coming back.

Forward Shawn Long decided not to pursue his pro career just yet after averaging 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game for the Cajuns last season. He had until Sunday, the NBA’s early entry deadline, to make his decision.

“He texted me this (Thursday) morning and said, ‘Coach, are you in your office?’” Marlin said. “He came by and we talked, and he asked if we wanted him back, if he could stay and finish. That was good news.”

Marlin said he met with Long and his brother last week, and they made a call to Ned Cohen, who is the spokesman for the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

“We got the report back that the 18 teams had commented on where he would be. It was anywhere from the early second (round) to not drafted,” Marlin said. “Most were late second.

“From a business standpoint and as a coach, I felt like this was the right decision.”

By returning for his senior season, Long is hoping to improve certain areas of his game to make himself more attractive to the NBA while also earning his degree.

“You get one time to make this happen, and he just wanted to be better prepared,” Marlin said. “He knows he’s got work to do, in the classroom and on the court. Hopefully it’ll be a positive decision for him..”

After being hampered by injury during a slow start to the season, Long took off. During one particularly dominant seven-game stretch, he averaged 22 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

Long has averaged a double-double in each of his first three seasons with the Cajuns, and because of that he’s been Marlin’s most decorated player.

He was named first team All-Sun Belt for the second consecutive season for his efforts, and he was also the league’s Freshman of the Year after the 2012-13 season.

Long will enter his senior season as the NCAA’s active leader in double doubles, with 51 in 101 career games. If he keeps near his career averages, he’ll also likely make an assault on the Cajuns record books.

Long is currently seventh on the Cajuns all-time career scoring list (1,700 points), third in rebounds (1,036) and second in blocks (209).

If he matches the numbers he put up last season, which was his second-best season statistically, he’ll finish as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks. He’s within striking distance of the school’s top-three mark in scoring.

With Long back in the fold, the Cajuns will return their top nine players from the rotation they used at the end of their 22-win 2014-15 season.

After signing five players in their 2015 signing class, the Cajuns roster now stands at 17 players.

“It can be a very good thing for our team to bring back a guy who can rebound and score the ball,” Marlin said. “He’s got to get better in certain areas defensively and on the pick and roll. But it gives our team … more depth and versatility inside, and we’ll have the luxury to redshirt somebody now.”