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Caleb McConnell to return to Rutgers men's basketball for 2022-23 season

Senior guard Caleb McConnell announced today that he would play one more season on the Banks and return to the Rutgers men’s basketball team in 2022.  – Photo by Caleb McConnell / Instagram

Senior guard Caleb McConnell of the Rutgers men’s basketball team announced today that he will withdraw from the 2022 NBA Draft and return to the Scarlet Knights for one more season. With his return, Rutgers will retain the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as well as a key veteran starter.

McConnell had until the end of today to decide whether to remain in the draft or to return to college. If the senior chose to remain in the draft past tonight’s deadline, he would have forfeited his final year of eligibility.

“I'm excited to return for one last ride with the Scarlet Knights in 2022-23,” McConnell said. “I learned a lot going through the process of training for the 2022 NBA Draft. I want to give a shout-out to my coaches, my teammates and my family for helping me make this decision about my future.”

Following the end of last season, McConnell was 1 of 3 Knights to declare for the 2022 NBA Draft, joining senior guard Ron Harper Jr. and freshman guard Jaden Jones, who will both remain in this month’s draft. 

In the time following his entry into the draft, McConnell did not receive invites to either the NBA Draft Combine or G League Combine, meaning the Jacksonville, Florida, native would have likely not been selected if he were to stay in the draft.

“We are excited to welcome (McConnell) back for one more season,” said head coach Steve Pikiell. “(McConnell) has been the ultimate ambassador for our program on and off the court. He is an unbelievable person and has been one of our best all-around players on both sides of the floor.”

Now committed to his “super senior” season, McConnell is the second player from the program to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted winter athletes in October 2020 in light of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Former Rutgers guard Geo Baker took advantage of the opportunity to return for a fifth season last year.

Last season, McConnell averaged 9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game on 39.7 percent shooting from the field. On the defensive end, he starred with a conference-high 70 steals, 19 more than Iowa’s Joe Toussaint, who finished second.

Among his most notable performances from last season includes the program’s NCAA Tournament game against Notre Dame, where McConnell had a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds on 83.3 percent shooting. It was his fourth career double-double and second in NCAA Tournament play.

In light of McConnell’s decision, Pikiell now has three starters returning for next season, as McConnell joins senior guard Paul Mulcahy and junior center Clifford Omoruyi. McConnell returns to a backcourt consisting of Mulcahy, sophomore guard Jalen Miller, recent transfer Cam Spencer and incoming freshman guard Derek Simpson, among others.

“We've built so much over the last four seasons at (Rutgers), and I can't wait to see what we achieve next year,” McConnell said. “I can't wait to see (Rutgers) Nation at (Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus)!"

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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