Junior guard James Palmer Jr. has withdrawn his name from the 2018 NBA Draft and is set to return to Nebraska for his senior season.
James Palmer tells me he's returning to Nebraska next season. Entered 2018 NBA Draft without an agent.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 25, 2018
Palmer chose to test the NBA Draft waters without signing an agent after a strong season with the Huskers. The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw their names from the draft and still maintain eligibility is May 30. Palmer submitted his name to the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and worked out for the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers in order to seek feedback.
Palmer was a breakout star for the Huskers in his first year of eligibility in Lincoln, leading the team with a 17.2 scoring average to go with 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists (second on the team). He reached double-figures in scoring in 31 of his 33 games with eight games of 20 or more including a high of 34.
Palmer was named a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the conference coaches, Nebraska’s first first-teamer since Terran Petteway in 2015. The media named Palmer to the Second Team.
He elevated his game in mid-May after a second-half benching at Penn State and was one of the best players in the conference for a nine-game stretch, playing himself onto the fringes of the NBA Draft radar. However, his play tailed off down the stretch as he managed to convert just three of his last 20 3-point attempts.
Improving that perimeter shot will be a big focus for Palmer heading into his senior season at Nebraska as upping the percentage while continuing to get to the rim and draw fouls at a high rate could put him back on the NBA radar next summer.
Palmer is one of seven players from last year’s three All-Big Ten teams who have eligibility remaining. Carsen Edwards (Purdue), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) and Juwan Morgan (Indiana) all tested the NBA Draft waters without hiring an agent, while Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland), Cassius Winston (Michigan State) and Jordan Murphy Minnesota) are all set to return to their teams.
Palmer averaged 3.6 points in 12.5 minutes per game as a reserve for two seasons at Miami before transferring to Nebraska. He was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school.
The Huskers went 22-11 last season and qualified for the NIT. With Palmer’s decision to withdraw from the draft, the Huskers will officially return three of their top four scorers from that squad. Now the team will await the decision of the fourth, forward Isaac Copeland, who also entered his name but did not hire an agent.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.