LSU officials took the proper steps Wednesday to solve the mystery behind guard Antonio Blakeney’s name showing up on the early draft list released Tuesday by the NBA.
Blakeney’s name was included on a list of early entry candidates compiled by the league even though he announced a week earlier that he’d be returning to school to play for the Tigers in the 2016-17 season.
The deadline for underclassmen and international players to apply for the draft was Sunday night.
As a result, many were surprised when Blakeney’s name was among the 162 players on the list that came out of NBA headquarters in New York.
Wednesday afternoon, LSU coach Johnny Jones issued a statement saying the paperwork to remove Blakeney’s name from the draft has been turned into the league office.
“The proper paperwork has been submitted to the NBA by Antonio Blakeney to withdraw his name for consideration from the 2016 draft,” Jones said.
When the list came out Tuesday, Jones said nothing had changed and reaffirmed Blakeney’s decision to skip the NBA draft and return to school to continue work on his basketball skills and his degree.
Earlier Wednesday, a league official declined to say how the problem arose and said the league won’t update the list of early entrants until the May 25 deadline.
The league official also couldn’t comment on the “status of individual players” who applied and could not speak about individual cases or applicants.
At the same time, the official said if a player intends to remove his name from the draft process, “he has plenty of time to do it.”
Blakeney informed Jones on April 1 he would explore his options about a pro career before announcing April 19 that he wouldn’t submit his name for the draft and would be back for his sophomore season.
Blakeney said he didn’t hire an agent while he gathered information about his draft chances — allowing him to retain his eligibility and return to LSU.
A McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit who chose LSU over Kentucky and Missouri, Blakeney ranked third on the team with 12.6 points a game after coming on strong late in the season.
In the final 11 games, Blakeney averaged 18.6 points per game and earned a spot on the Southeastern Conference Coaches All-Freshman team. The native of Sarasota, Florida, started 24 of LSU’s 33 games and averaged 30.8 minutes per contest.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, MicklesAdvocate.