Siena men’s basketball junior Manny Camper announced Friday afternoon with a social-media post that he has declared for the 2020 NBA draft, but will retain his eligibility so that he can potentially return to play a senior season for the Saints.
“I’m excited,” Camper said Friday in a phone interview. “This is what I’ve been working for my whole life.
“And,” Camper said, “I’m going to continue to work.”
Camper is the second Saint in as many years to test the NBA draft waters, as sophomore Jalen Pickett — the reigning MAAC Player of the Year — did the same after his freshman season before returning to Siena. Camper, who won’t sign with an agent, will have until June 3 to decide if he wants to return to Siena or continue with the NBA draft process.
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said Friday he expects Camper to be the lone Saint to declare for the NBA draft this offseason, and voiced support for the 20-year-old Camper’s decision.
“Super proud of Manny and his effort. He’s self-made,” Maciariello said. “He’s a tireless worker. He’s a great student-athlete. Just excited he’s one of us. This is a great chance for him to get that much closer to achieving his dream and take advantage of the NCAA rules where he can test the waters and get feedback from NBA teams.
“Whatever he wanted to do, I was for,” Maciariello added. “I believe in Manny, and love his work ethic. He’s the epitome of a Siena basketball player.”
As a junior, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Camper earned a first-team All-MAAC selection. In helping lead Siena to a regular-season championship and a 20-win season, Camper averaged 13.7 points and 10.4 rebounds.
Camper said it’s “my dream and my goal” to play in the NBA, but that playing a final season at Siena “would be great, too.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that’s shut down nearly all of the United States’ sports landscape, it’s unclear what — if any — pre-draft process there will be this year in terms of events and workouts in which Camper could participate. By declaring for the NBA draft, though, Camper will at least be able to receive feedback on his game — both his strengths and his weaknesses — from NBA evaluators. Already, Camper said he plans to use this offseason to work on his dribbling and shooting to better his perimeter game.
“Every offseason, though, I try to work on everything,” Camper said.
Camper said he started to think about declaring for the NBA draft during the second half of the season. After consulting with his family, Camper said he confirmed his intentions with Maciariello earlier this week.
“Coach Carm is a guy I trust and who has helped me a lot with this process,” Camper said.
The junior from Maryland said he has been in touch with Pickett, too, on how to handle what’s next.
“Me and Jalen talk almost every day,” Camper said. “We always talk about it. Any questions I’ve had, I know I can go to him, ask him and I know he’ll be honest.”
3 SAINTS DEPART
Sophomore Georges Darwiche has entered the NCAA transfer portal and will not return to the Siena men’s basketball team, the program confirmed Friday evening.
As a sophomore, Darwiche appeared in four games and scored three points after having offseason Achilles surgery following a freshman campaign in which he started 10 games and scored 37 points.
“I love Georges. He worked hard every day,” Maciariello wrote Friday in a text message. “He helped us tremendously in practice and cared more about the team than himself. He was ready when his number was called and he will leave here as a MAAC champion.”
Siena also announced Friday that freshmen Queralt Pujol and Chyvon Thomas have left its women’s basketball program and entered into the transfer portal. Pujol played in three games and Thomas played in seven, as the two Saints combined to score six points.
All three players will depart from Siena in good academic standing.