Ohio State's E.J. Liddell Withdraws from 2021 NBA Draft After NCAA's NIL Rule Change

Adam WellsJuly 3, 2021

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell (32) plays against Illinois in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The NCAA's revised name, image and likeness rules have led to Ohio State star E.J. Liddell to withdraw from the 2021 NBA draft. 

Speaking to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Liddell explained this was a "pretty difficult decision" but one that makes sense based on his earning potential in college: 

"It's good that I could be making money. That should have been happening for a long time. The coaches are telling me that being the face of this team and one of the most publicized guys in the conference, I could make a really good profit off that. How much, I'm not sure yet. I haven't looked into that enough yet."

The NCAA's NIL policy took effect on Thursday, leading to many student-athletes in all sports announcing they have signed endorsement deals that will allow them to earn money without losing their college eligibility. 

Liddell originally declared for the draft in March, but he said in his announcement that he was going to maintain his eligibility for a potential return to Ohio State. 

Givony noted that Liddell "didn't have a great showing at the G League Elite Camp" and NBA talent evaluators told him to "continue to increase his shooting range and defensive versatility."

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman didn't have Liddell ranked among the top 50 prospects in the 2021 draft class on his most recent big board. 

Liddell was voted to the All-Big Ten first team by coaches during the 2020-21 season. The 20-year-old ranked second on the Buckeyes in scoring (16.2 points per game) and first in rebounding (6.7) last season. 

Ohio State will bring back Liddell, Justice Sueing and Kyle Young from last year's starting five. The Buckeyes went 21-10 and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2020-21 but were upset by Oral Roberts in the first round.