Will he or won’t he? Scotty Pippen Jr. certainly kept fans in suspense since declaring for the NBA draft in April but keeping open the possibility of a return to school as he declined to hire an agent. With the draft withdrawal fast approaching at midnight ET on July 7, at the 11th hour, literally, Pippen finally declared the news Commodore fans were hoping to hear.
Pippen had a good first season, earning All-SEC freshman honors, but he wasn’t a blip on the NBA radar. He exploded as a sophomore averaging 20.8 points and 4.9 assists per game to land on the All-SEC first team. He was easily the team leader and most valuable player, and his tremendous improvement led him to test the NBA waters.
The decision to return to school is also something of a surprise. The 6’1” Pippen (NOT 6’3” per his Vandy listing) reportedly struggled in the G-League Elite camp scrimmages, did not receive an NBA combine invitation, and wasn’t projected to be drafted. Regardless the pulse from Commodore Nation was that he was likely gone.
The importance of his return cannot be overstated. Frankly, prospects for next season were looking grim. Seven scholarship players (and an additional preferred walk-on) departed this offseason including his fellow star classmate Dylan Disu. Pippen’s return brings much-needed talent and stability as the team around him this fall will be completely different than the team he left as a sophomore. He will be charged with helping Coach Stackhouse mesh the few holdovers with a group of talented but largely unproven newcomers into a competitive team. Commodore fans who were prepared to count the number of SEC wins on one hand now have a much-needed jolt of excitement and optimism.
Pippen heads into his junior season as a prime candidate for SEC Player of the Year. His return likely finalizes the 2020-21 roster. Could this be the start of the return of Memorial Magic? Stay tuned…