Maryland G Eric Ayala withdraws from NBA draft, returning for senior season

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Eric Ayala opts to return to Maryland for senior season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

After the departure of Darryl Morsell to Marquette, the Maryland Terrapins men's basketball program received some good news on Wednesday when guard Eric Ayala announced he would be returning for his senior season.

Ayala had entered his name in the NBA Draft pool but did not hire an agent, giving him the option to come back to the Terps.

"I'm excited to announce I'll be returning to Maryland for my senior season," Ayala said. "I took my time throughout this process and am appreciative of the feedback I received. I can't wait to get to work with our team and play in front of the best fans in the country once again!"

"I'm proud of Eric for taking his time throughout this process and obtaining the feedback needed to make an informed decision on his future," head coach Mark Turgeon said. "Eric is one of the top guards in the Big Ten Conference and possesses experience at the highest level of college basketball that can't be taught. He will earn his degree from a top-notch university and continue to build on his tremendous basketball resume to set himself up for the future."

Ayala's return is a big one for Turgeon's team, as the guard led Maryland in scoring during the 2020-21 season with 15.1 points. That total was nearly double the 8.6 and 8.5 points he averaged over his first two seasons. One of the leaders of the team, Ayala will now continue to command the offense for the Terps.

With the guard back in College Park, the Terps look to have a solid roster assembled heading into the season. Transfers Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab will provide scoring and experience, as will returning players Donta Scott and Hakim Hart. Pair that with Ayala and some incoming players and the Terps will have more depth than they did a year ago.

Additionally, Maryland could catapult itself into the Top-5 team talk should guard Aaron Wiggins return. Like Ayala, Wiggins is testing the waters of the NBA Draft but has an option to return. Should he, the Terps would instantly be viewed as one of the more complete teams in the nation.

Yet, even if Wiggins decides to turn pro, the return of Ayala gives Maryland enough leadership and scoring to make noise in the Big Ten -- and the NCAA Tournament.