Isaiah Joe returning for junior season

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Saturday, August 1, 2020
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) shoots against Texas A&M defender Jay Jay Chandler during a game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) shoots against Texas A&M defender Jay Jay Chandler during a game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas received some positive news regarding the 2020-21 season on Saturday.

Razorbacks sophomore guard Isaiah Joe announced in a post on his Twitter account that he is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft and returning to school for his junior season, bolstering what looks on paper to be a talent-filled backcourt in Year 2 under coach Eric Musselman.

Joe declared for this year’s draft on April 20.

“I appreciate everyone who has been in my corner and supported me throughout my career and during this quarantine,” Joe wrote. “With that being said, there is still a lot to be accomplished and I believe that it all starts here as an Arkansas Razorbacks.”

The original deadline for underclassmen to return to school after going through the draft process was June 3, but in June the NCAA gave underclassmen until either 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3 — whichever comes first — to withdraw from the draft and return to college.

“We are so excited to have Isaiah back," Musselman said in a release. "We know how hard of a decision this was for Isaiah and his family. Zai’s goal is to have a long NBA career and we can’t wait to continue helping him reach his dream.”

A former standout and state champion at Fort Smith Northside, Joe has averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range in two seasons with the Razorbacks. As a freshman, Joe set the program’s single-season record for 3-pointers made with 113 while shooting 41.4 percent.

He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging 13.9 points and 1.5 steals per game.

Despite missing six games as a sophomore due to a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in February, Joe made 94 3s in 2019-20. He attempted 10.6 3-pointers per game last season (up from 8.0 in 2018-19) and his 275 attempts were tied for ninth-most in college basketball, according to SportsReference.

Arkansas was 1-5 without Joe last season and 19-7 with him in the lineup.

In six games after returning from injury, Joe averaged 20 points, shot 39 percent from the floor, 34.9 percent beyond the arc and made all 34 free throw attempts. He scored 16.9 points and grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game for the season.

Defensively, Joe took a team-high 18 charges (Jimmy Whitt was No. 2 with six) and was second on the team with 44 steals.

Junior guard Mason Jones declared for the draft in March and signed with an agent in May.

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