Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Iowa State’s Lindell Wigginton and Quad-Cities products Ethan Happ and Tyler Hall all dipped their toes into the NBA draft pool this spring.
But all of them retreated to dry ground on Wednesday.
All four players announced plans to return to college after it became apparent that none of them were likely to be selected in the June 21 NBA draft.
College underclassmen are permitted to enter the draft and be evaluated by pro scouts but then return to college as long as they do not hire an agent and file their paperwork by a certain date. Wednesday was the last day to do that.
Cook, who led Iowa in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (6.8) as a sophomore last season, waited until the early evening hours to end the suspense for Hawkeye fans.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward initially entered the draft hoping to get information to help him develop as a player, but he ended up doing individual workouts with six different teams — Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio, Denver, Oklahoma City and Brooklyn.
"I am grateful for the opportunities and feedback that I have received from NBA personnel," Cook said. "I am thankful for Coach (Fran) McCaffery and the coaching staff for their assistance and patience with me during this process."
McCaffery was quoted recently as saying that if Cook returned to college for another year, he had a good chance of being a No. 1 draft choice next year.
"Tyler is an extremely talented young man who will continue to work tirelessly to reach his potential and ultimate goal of playing in the NBA," McCaffery said. "We encouraged Tyler to take advantage of this process and take as long as he needed, and I’m proud of how he went through this process."
There were similar sighs of relief in Madison, Wisconsin, when the 6-9 Happ revealed in a late-afternoon message on Twitter that he planned to return for his fifth year at Wisconsin.
"Have had some unbelievable experiences in Madison so far ..." Happ wrote. "Coming back for one more special season. Can't wait to get back in the gym w/the fam."
The former Rockridge High School star worked out for at least eight NBA teams but said all along that if he was not projected to be a first-round draft choice he likely would be back with the Badgers.
A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and the 2017 Big Ten defensive player of the year, Happ has started all 105 games over the past three seasons and has a chance to etch his name as one of the all-time greats in Wisconsin history.
He already is in the top 15 in school history in almost every statistical category, including points (ninth), rebounds (second), steals (third), blocked shots (sixth), assists (15th) and field goal percentage (second).
Hall, a former Rock Island High School star, has a chance to make a similar mark on the record books at Montana State. He is third on the school’s career scoring list entering next season.
The 6-5 guard averaged 17.5 points per game as a junior last season, and although his shooting percentages declined somewhat from previous seasons, he still made 99 3-point field goals.
He said he decided about a week ago to withdraw from the draft and said he hopes to further develop his skills with one more year of college.
The 6-foot-2 Wigginton averaged 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists as a freshman at Iowa State last season and shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range.
He went through individual workouts with six different NBA teams and admitted he was tempted to stay in the draft in hopes of becoming the first Nova Scotia native ever to play in the NBA.
"I chose to come back to Iowa State because I didn’t want to settle," Wigginton said. "I know where I can help take our team this season, and I want to be considered a winner. I am determined to be one of the best guards in college basketball and want to have a chance to play in March Madness and compete for a national championship for the best fans in college basketball."