BOISE — The message was simple and to the point: ‘Unfinished business.’
Boise State guard Derrick Alston Jr. made it known with a social media post late Wednesday morning that the NBA can wait. He’s elected to stay for his senior season with the Broncos.
The return of Alston — who led the Broncos with 17.3 points per game last season — gives Boise State arguably the most talented roster of the Leon Rice era and makes them among the favorites to win the Mountain West Conference next year.
“I felt very confident that if I did decide to stay in the draft that I would have been drafted somewhere in the second round,” Alston said during a Zoom call with reporters. “But I felt like the opportunity I have here at Boise State to not only improve my stock to be a first rounder but also to win a Mountain West Championship and go far in the NCAA Tournament is not an opportunity that a lot of people get.
“I knew I had two really good options going through the whole process but I felt like at the end of the the day, I felt like the best decision for myself and my career was to stay for my senior year at Boise State.”
The 6-foot-9 Alston declared for the NBA Draft in late March but maintained his college eligibility. There were no private workouts with NBA teams due to the pandemic, so he was limited to virtual interviews with nearly 20 teams.
Another factor was the NBA Draft being pushed back to October due to the delay in the NBA season, which will be well after the fall semester and practices for the upcoming college season will have started.
“I think for me I would have benefited greatly from having a full process and being able to go workout for teams and let teams see me in person,” Alston said. “I interviewed very well but I think that’s only one piece of it. I just felt with all the uncertainty that it would be a smart decision to come back and improve my stock.”
Alston declined to say what NBA teams told him he needs to improve on to be a first round pick next year, but said Boise State’s coaching staff made sure he knew they’d do all they could to help showcase his talents if he returned.
“They assured me that if I did decide to come back that I’d still have the opportunity to do what I do and what I need to do to make my next jump to the NBA,” Alston said.
Alston, once a 147-pound walk-on, has added nearly 40 pounds to his frame since he arrived at Boise State as a freshman. But he’d still likely benefit by adding another 10-15 pounds and bulking up a bit in the weight room during his final year in college.
“I think I still have a big jump to make,” Alston said. “My body still has a big jump to make, as well as my mentality. I still feel like I’m in a growing stage of my basketball career. I still have a lot to improve on.”
With Alston’s return the Broncos should have one of the most athletic teams in program history. Boise State returns two starters in Abu Kijab and RayJ Dennis and adds four Division I transfers that sat out last season including two from Arizona — Emmanuel Akot and Devonaire Doutrive — that were top-100 recruits out of high school.
“That obviously played a part in it,” Alston said. “What this team could do with myself included, we know we can accomplish great things and things that haven’t been done here in Boise State history.
“Making the tournament now is the expectation now, and being able to lead these guys for me, someone that’s been here a while, is going to be a good challenge and something I need to improve on with my leadership and my maturity and things like that. I’m excited to get back with the guys and get back to work.”
Boise State has a game scheduled back in his hometown of Houston against Texas A&M in December, but Alston joked that his return was not tied to Rice scheduling a homecoming for him.
“That was not the deal, that happened way before I made a decision, but that’s awesome,” Alston said. “My family is very excited about that.”
Rice and the Broncos had plenty of reasons to be excited Wednesday as well.