by Mason Voth • EMAWOnline – Managing Editor – @TheRealMasonV

On Sunday, all-American forward Keyontae Johnson officially announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft. It came with one twist, the K-State star ended his announcement by stating he will be “maintaining [his]college eligibility.”

Johnson transferred to K-State from Florida for the 2022-2023 season, where he averaged 17.4 points per game and 6.8 rebounds, both leading K-State during the regular season.

K-State became the “rebirth” spot for Johnson, for both his basketball career and life. Johnson had appeared in just five games over the previous two seasons after collapsing during a game against Florida State in his junior season at Florida. The one game his senior year at Florida was just to start the game on Senior Night.

Johnson would have to apply for a medical waiver from the NCAA, which he would certainly get if he wanted it. The NCAA has dealt with its fair share of PR battles and doesn’t need the black eye of denying its best story another year if he wants it.

Rumblings of Johnson possibly returning to K-State for another season in 2023-2024 started to come up on my radar a few weeks ago, and although his announcement on Sunday doesn’t mean it is likely to happen, it confirms that Johnson is open to returning to K-State if he doesn’t get the news he wants during the NBA Draft process.

K-State currently has four open scholarships for next season (expecting Johnson to depart). K-State has recruited guards very hard in the first month of portal season, with their targets currently focused on Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas and North Texas’ Tylor Perry, both could make decisions this week.

While the Wildcats have focused a majority of their efforts on guards and then a lesser extent on true bigs, they have yet to really address the position that Johnson will leave open, meaning they too are going to wait to see if Johnson really enters the draft or wants to play a second season in Manhattan.

Without factoring the transfers K-State is lining up, Johnson’s return is a difference-maker on its own and would lean to K-State’s ceiling for the 2024 season to rise immediately.