Maryland's Eric Ayala joins Aaron Wiggins in declaring for NBA Draft

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Bijan Todd
·2 min read
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Terps' Eric Ayala declares for NBA Draft, maintains eligibility originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Within the span of four hours on Friday afternoon, the Maryland Terrapins have potentially lost their two best guards. After Aaron Wiggins announced his decision to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility, Eric Ayala has now done the same, as the junior posted on Twitter.

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Ayala, the stalwart of Maryland’s backcourt, led the Terps in scoring in 2020-21 with 15.1 ppg, complemented by 4.3 rpg and 2.2 apg in just over 33 minutes per contest. If Ayala and Wiggins' departures hold, coach Mark Turgeon’s Terps will have lost their two best scorers. Ayala also led the team with 1.2 steals per game last season, which saw the Terrapins lose in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Alabama.

As with Wiggins, Ayala has declared for the draft while maintaining his collegiate eligibility. That means that Ayala can go through the pre-draft process to gauge pro interest before deciding if he wants to remain in the draft or return to play college ball.

A 2021 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, Ayala is just the latest Terp intending to depart College Park this offseason. On Tuesday, senior guard Darryl Morsell entered the NCAA transfer portal and declared for the NBA Draft, with the option of using a fifth season of eligibility elsewhere. Thursday afternoon, freshman point guard Aquan Smart announced he also will enter the transfer portal.

However, UMD has added names as well. Rhode Island transfer point guard Fatts Russell, who averaged just under 15 points last season, transferred to Maryland along with big man Qudus Wahab. The latter’s move was much shorter—just 14 miles—as the sophomore spent the past two seasons with Georgetown.

Also recently announced was head coach Mark Turgeon’s extension with Maryland on Thursday.