Arizona Basketball guard Caleb Love retains NCAA eligibility while declaring for 2024 NBA Draft

The door isn't closed just yet.
Dayton v Arizona
Dayton v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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How does being NCAA- and draft-eligible work?

Starting in the 2018-19 season, a college basketball player can be an "early entrant" into the draft and declare while still maintaining collegiate eligibility. During this process, they are allowed to sign with an NBA agent and participate in offseason camps and workouts. If the player goes undrafted, they're allowed to return to school as long as they cut ties with the NBA agent. If the player gets drafted, only then do they have to officially forego their remaining NCAA eligibility.

Why this is the perfect decision for Love

This is how Love ensures that he has a roster spot guaranteed by the time the 2024-25 season rolls around. Ever since his role as North Carolina's unquestionable leader was usurped by RJ Davis two seasons ago, Love's NBA draft stock has been in flux. He's long been projected to go near the mid- to late-second round, but he can still return to Arizona if he falls out of the draft entirely.

Why a return instead of a transfer?

Caleb Love
Arizona State v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

His final season at North Carolina was still, by all measures, very productive: 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals in 35.8 minutes per game. However, living in Davis' shadow isn't Love's style, so he entered the transfer portal. He almost enrolled at Michigan, but issues with his credits caused his recruitment to re-open, and the second push by Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd was enough to bring the superstar down to the desert.

He played the best season of his collegiate career in red and blue as a starter for all 36 games and logged 32.3 minutes per contest. He logged career-highs in scoring (18 ppg), rebounds (4.8 rpg), steals (1.2 per game), blocks (0.3 per game), and shooting percentage (41.4%) while also posting an impressive 3.4 assists per game and 33.2% shooting percentage from range. This led to him being named the 2024 Pac-12 Player of the Year in his first (and last) year in the conference.

Outside of his on-court performance, he embraced being a Wildcat and lived for the big games. He soaked it up when Arizona beat No. 2 Duke on the road and was throwing the "forks down" when Arizona smoked Arizona State by 40-plus points. He dropped 36 points on Oregon on the road in Eugene. Love always has a home at Arizona, whether as a player or a treasured one-and-done alum.

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