SAN DIEGO -- Jalen McDaniels will be on the court when the Aztecs basketball team begins practice this week.
The Aztecs budding star declared for the NBA Draft in the spring, but since he didn't hire an agent, he was able to pull his name out and come back to compete in college.
McDaniels didn't have much of an off-season. After a breakout red-shirt freshman year, he declared for the NBA Draft and spent the summer testing the waters to see what NBA teams really think of him.
"The first one I had I was kind of nervous," McDaniel's said. "I missed a couple of shots and like man, we're just playing basketball. There was just a whole front office watching stuff like that so, after the first work out, you kind of get used to it."
McDaniels played in all 33 games last season, earning 21 starts. He averaged 10.5 points per game and shot a team high 58.6 percent from the floor, stats that got him workouts with 11 NBA teams including the Warriors, Clippers and Spurs.
"Its always been your dream to be in the NBA so just being in the NBA facility is crazy," he said. "They have all the new stuff, I'm like man, just looking around you really want to be here, you don't want to leave so just being there really opened my eyes a lot."
The 6'10" sophomore says playing against other top college athletes helped improve his game, something teammate Jeremy Hemsley has taken notice of.
"It seems like he got a lot better because coming back and watching him practice, he's doing stuff I've never seen him do so he looks like he's ready for sure," said Hemsley.
However, McDaniels decided to hold off on the NBA. At least for now.
"I felt like I could play with these guys but it's a lot of little things in the game that I kind of didn't know," said McDaniels. "So I feel like using this year to learn those things and just become the better player, I feel like I'll be more prepared."
"I'm not going to lie to you, I'm surprised he came back," said Hemsley. "But as his brother, as his teammate, we tell him to go pursue his dream."
But McDaniels says the NBA will have to wait, at least until next year.
"I think about it but I try not to get too caught up in it," said McDaniels. "I just want to get through the season first and have a great season with the team and when the time comes, then we'll just have to see, you know?"
The Aztecs tip of their 2018-19 season on November 6th at Viejas Arena when they host Arkansas Pine Bluff.