Miye Oni chooses to remain eligible for NBA Draft, leave Yale

Miye Oni took game MVP honors after Yale’s 77-73 win over Miami on Dec. 1 Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena. (Next Ones)

Miye Oni has made his decision, and he’s chasing his dream.

Yale Athletics announced Friday that Oni has elected to remain eligible for the NBA Draft to pursue his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.

So his Yale basketball career is over.

“My three years at Yale have been the best of my life and have opened doors to opportunities I’ve dreamt of forever, Oni said, per Yale Athletics. “Ever since my father introduced me to basketball at 2 years old, it has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA. After going through the pre-draft evaluation process, I believe that it is the right time for me to explore that option.

“I leave Yale a better person and player, due to the unwavering love and support from my coaches and teammates throughout the years. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Coach (James) Jones, Coach (Matt) Kingsley, and the rest of the coaching staff, who were willing to take a chance on a kid with barely any film or Division 1 interest. They gave me the opportunity to play at this wonderful university.”

The NCAA withdrawal deadline was Wednesday at midnight. A series of changes intended to allow more flexibility for college basketball players considering professional status that the NCAA announced in September 2018 included a provision permitting college basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted to return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft has not yet taken effect. But that rule is not yet in effect.

Oni was the 2018-19 Ivy Player of the Year and led the Bulldogs to an Ivy League championship as a junior. He leaves Yale as the 10th leading scorer in school history with 1,308 career points.

Ranked No. 53 among ESPN’s top 100 prospects for this summer’s draft, Oni is looking to become the first Ivy player drafted in the NBA Draft since Penn’s Jerome Allen was selected in the second round (49th overall) by the Minnesota Timberwolves. That would be an especially remarkable feat given that Oni was originally a Division III commit who didn’t even make the varsity team in high school until his junior year and went unnoticed by many schools.

Oni impressed NBA scouts with his 29-point performance in a Yale win over Miami at the HoopHall Invitational in December and participated in the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in 2017, one of only 21 college players invited there.

“I am also forever indebted to every single one of my teammates, who I was able to learn a great deal from,” Oni said. “From the countless road trips, locker room debates, and daily banter, you have all meant the world to me and enhanced my Yale experience tenfold. I do not know where or who I would be today without each and every one of you. Thank you for the lasting impact you have had on my life, I consider you all family forever.

“As I embark on this next chapter, I will not just be playing for the name on the front and back of my jersey, but I will be playing for the entire Yale and Ivy League community. I will be playing for the 17-year-old kid with zero Division I offers, I will be playing for the kid who was laughed at for chasing their dreams. I will be playing for the underdog, in any aspect of life, and I hope to be an inspiration to many, just as Hakeem Olajuwon was to me. I will try to be the best role model I can be to the next generation and show them that it is possible to excel in education and athletics and do both at a high level.”

Oni’s departure is a huge loss for coach James Jones as he looks to lead Yale to a 20th straight top-four finish in the Ivy League and the Ivy League Tournament appearance that would automatically come with it.

“Miye had a tremendous career at Yale, and I can’t be more excited to follow the next chapter of his life,” Jones said. “He’s an outstanding talent and a better person.”

Oni said he has made a “concrete plan” to finish my degree as soon as possible.

“From an early age, my family instilled the value and importance of education in me. They have always been my biggest supporters and without their constant love, I would be nothing,” Oni said. “My sister has been a role model to me my entire life and is the reason I believed it was ‘cool’ to go to an Ivy League school. Getting an Ivy League degree is one of the main reasons I chose to attend Yale and in accordance with the University, I have made a concrete plan to finish my degree as soon as possible.”

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