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Arizona basketball: Rawle Alkins withdraws from NBA Draft, will return for sophomore season

Alkins is returning to Arizona for his sophomore season

Xavier v Arizona Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rawle Alkins is returning for his sophomore season.

The Arizona Wildcats freshman guard has withdrawn from the 2017 NBA Draft, he announced on Sunday in a tweet.

“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to continue my college basketball career back in Tucson at The University of Arizona,” the tweet reads. “Declaring for the NBA Draft has taught me more than I could have imagined and has been an incredible experience. I can’t wait to help the Wildcats win a national championship next year with a great team, great coach, and the most amazing fans in the world behind us!! Bear Down. #SAVAGELIFE”

Alkins declared for the NBA Draft on April 12, but did not hire an agent, leaving the door open to a return.

He attended the NBA Combine and worked out for a handful teams, but decided staying in school was his best option.

Alkins was widely projected to be a second-round pick or go undrafted.

His return is paramount for the Wildcats. Alkins averaged 10.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a freshman, proving to be a solid all-around player — and durable, too.

Alkins appeared in all 37 games (starting in 36 of them), and played through a gruesome finger injury in the NCAA Tournament.

Alkins was named to the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team and could become one of the best guards in college basketball in his second season.

He is expected to start alongside Allonzo Trier on the wing in 2017-18, giving the Wildcats a lethal 1-2 punch on the perimeter as they continue their search for their first Final Four appearance in the Sean Miller era.

Arizona is returning four key players from a season ago — Alkins, Trier, Dusan Ristic, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright — and a top-five recruiting class, plus UNC-Asheville transfer Dylan Smith.

The Wildcats will likely enter the season ranked in the Top 10 and the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference.

Ken Pomeroy ranked Arizona as the No. 2 team in the country in his early preseason poll. Sports Illustrated had the Wildcats at No. 1.

Alkins’ return certainly won’t quell the lofty expectations.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire