There will be no encore: Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

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Seton Hall star Isaiah Whitehead has opted to stay in the 2016 NBA Draft, eliminating the possibility of his return to South Orange for a junior encore season.

Isaiah has been advised that he is a potential late-first round or early-second round pick, which is apparently enough to give the Coney Island product the green light following a solid but not great Draft Combine showing and a workout with the Philadelphia 76ers last Monday.

Like a Whitehead pull-up jumper during the 2016 Big East Tournament, there’s now no doubt about the outcome.

Looking back two years ago at the build up before Isaiah set foot on Seton Hall’s campus as a student, this pretty much meets expectations. At the higher end of the spectrum, some thought he was a one-and-done talent.

Regardless of his foot injury as a freshman, that scenario was still unlikely. But if he wasn’t one-and-done, no one really thought he’d be in South Orange for three years.

That has played out to a “T”, with Seton Hall triggering a litany of program-firsts in 2015-16 on Whitehead’s shoulders, including their first Big East Tournament crown since 1992-93 and snapping a decade-long NCAA tournament drought.

If drafted, Whitehead will be the first Pirate to have their name called since Samuel Dalembert and Eddie Griffin back in 2001.

For Seton Hall, Whitehead’s departure leaves a massive scoring void to be filled but primarily raises questions about a facilitator.

Point guard Jevon Thomas remains sidelined until at least December in the aftermath of his assault incident on campus in February that saw him fail to complete the spring semester. The Seton Hall staff has added top-150 two-guard Eron Gordon, but an instant impact at point will perhaps come in the form of an immediately eligible graduate transfer that previously played at a high-major; the Hall has one waiting in the wings.

The Pirates are now at the scholarship limit of 13 pending outgoing transfers. They are still in the mix for 2016 big Taurean Thompson, though Whitehead’s departure probably doesn’t help the cause.

  • shufaninva

    Oh man, what if he doesn’t get drafted? He’ll be stuck making about 20 grand in the D league or be stuck overseas. I hope this works out for him. He gave us so much joy this past season.

    • Joe Schmoe

      A risk he’s willing to take….

  • Fishjam

    Knew it was coming but I’m still very bummed out. I truly want the best for Isaiah and hope to God he gets picked in the 1st round or at least is one of the few 2nd rounders who gets a guaranteed contract. In my opinion he should have returned for a year but I am not privy to what NBA team’s have told him. It’s his dream to play in the NBA and best of luck to him pursuing that dream.

    It was an absolute pleasure to watch him at Seton Hall and he gave me the best time watching the Pirates since I was in school during the PJ years. He’s a good kid and represented the Hall well, brought us back from the dead and breathed some life into Willard and the program at just the right time. The level that he played at over the last 4-6 weeks of the season (minus Gonzaga) was the best I have ever seen from a Seton Hall player and I will enjoy going back and watching those games/highlights for years to come. Go get em in the League Zeke!

    • LBP

      Fishjam– I agree with everything you so artfully expressed.

  • Best of luck to Isaiah. Hopefully the people he listened to turn out to be correct. I don’t doubt IW’s talent, but do have concerns about the investment teams will have in him if he’s picked second round, etc

    • Fishjam

      Exactly, I’m confident Isaiah has the ability and drive to be a success in the NBA…..but if he doesn’t get the right opportunity things can get exponentially harder for him. The odds are stacked against him if he’s not 1 of the first 30 picks.

  • ThePirateFan

    Good luck to Isaiah!

  • Coach Mike

    Thank you and good luck to Isaiah. Time will tell if he made the right decision. We can only hope for the best. He is a class act and deserves success. God Bless.

  • hallstorm

    I wish him the best of luck. I enjoyed his time donning the gray and blue. I hope there is a team willing to invest in his stock.

  • Andrew Herbst

    I wish Isaish the best in the NBA. Thank you for all you did for this program. I will always remember and have fond memories of his Big East Tourney performance. It was so fun to watch him grow and develop this year. He deserves all the success. Good luck Zeke.

  • Jersey Jerry

    Think we ALL wish him luck; however, we ALL want to know

    • Joe Schmoe

      That was a dumb choice… I don’t know how he thinks he is a first round pick… Everything that was published said in the 50’s, if at all.

  • Matty P

    Good luck to Whitehead with the NBA. Would’ve loved to see him come back and continue to raise his draft stock while possibly going deep into the NCAA tournament. He should be a good ambassador for SHU in the NBA and will help to show that you can stay local and not go to a Kentucky or Duke and make it to the NBA.

    Next year should be interesting and Sha will have his hands full again with another project of trying to turn someone into a PG. Seems like each year since the days of Jordan Theodore that he’s been tasked to do this and for the most part he’s done a good job.

  • Peter

    While from my vantage point this was a mistake, I will be rooting for IW on draft night and throughout his career. Best of luck Isaiah, and thanks for everything you did at SHU!

  • Matt

    Wish him nothing but the best…..it is amazing how we go from a Top 15 team to now not even sure.

  • Joe J

    Forget about what this does to the Hall next year. They’ll be fine. But Whitehead may not be as fortunate. Greed may destroy him. You can’t find any mock draft with his name on it. Another year would have solidified his draft stock. He has a better chance of going undrafted than being drafted at all. And even if he gets drafted his game is not at that level right now. Bad advice by his friends and family and possibly the biggest mistake in his life. I hope I am wrong but this is how I see it.

  • jfp1992

    Wish him the best, but I just don’t get it.

  • PirateLacrosse14

    Hope nothing but the best for Isaiah, and will buy his jersey (will probably have to customize it) the moment he is drafted. Obviously i would have liked him to come back for the reason of making us potentially a Top-10 team, but also felt one more year could have made him a Top-10 pick. That being said, we have a lot of young talent coming in, with the potential to add even more with Taurean!

  • HobokenGuy

    Very tough news. It was amazing last year, with the kind of buzz in the arena that we haven’t experienced in a long time (though it took way too long to build). I agree with most commenters here that it’s a misguided decision. Another year would’ve made him a lottery pick and given him huge national exposure.

    Let’s see how this plays out, but he’s going to be living on the fringes of the NBA most likely for the foreseeable future.