Obi Enechionyia

Temple's Obi Enechionyia withdrawing from NBA draft, will return for senior year

Temple's Obi Enechionyia withdrawing from NBA draft, will return for senior year

It's only May, but it sounds like Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls just got a big boost for next season.

Star forward Obi Enechionyia will pull his name out of the upcoming NBA draft and will return to North Broad Street for his senior season.

CBSSports' Jon Rothstein first broke word of Enechionyia's decision Monday morning.

The 6-foot-10 Enechionyia was the Owls' leading rebounder last season with 5.8 boards per game. He was also second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.1 points per game. He dropped a season-high 26 points on rival St. Joe's during a 78-72 win on Hawk Hill in November.

Enechionyia can be a matchup problem for opponents with his length and his ability to stretch the floor. He shot 41 percent from field last season and 39 percent from three-point range. He will undoubtedly be the Owls' top frontcourt option this coming year.

But his mentorship and experience will be a big factor this season for the Owls, who will have to lean on underclassmen such as guards Shizz Alston, Alani Moore and Quinton Rose to pick up more of the scoring slack. Enechionyia, guard Josh Brown and role player Mike Robbins are the only remaining Owls who played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Iowa. The 16-16 Owls did not advance to a postseason tournament last season.

Enechionyia declared for the draft in late March, but did not hire an agent, leaving him eligible to withdraw from the draft. He did not receive an invite to the recent NBA combine, but did have a private workout with the Boston Celtics in recent days.

The deadline for players without agents to withdraw from the draft is this Wednesday.

Temple tops USF in season finale, faces East Carolina in American tournament

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Temple tops USF in season finale, faces East Carolina in American tournament

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- Obi Enechionyia knocked down four 3-pointers and made five steals and Daniel Dingle scored 17 points with five assists as Temple ended the regular season with a 72-60 win over South Florida on Sunday.

The Owls (16-15, 7-11 American) played opportunistic defense, racking up a season-best 16 steals, helping to force 19 turnovers and scoring 20 points off turnovers. Temple also drilled 11 3-pointers.

Quinton Rose scored 13 points and led Temple with six steals. His half-dozen steals and Enechionia's five were career bests. Shizz Alston, Jr. also scored 13, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and adding six assists.

Geno Thorpe led USF (7-22, 1-17) with 21 points -- his seventh game of 20 or better this season -- and made five assists. Luis Santos added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Temple and East Carolina, the eight and nine seeds, play Thursday at the American Athletic Conference Tournament. USF is the 11th seed.

Temple keeps spirits high after suffering another close loss at home

Temple keeps spirits high after suffering another close loss at home

BOX SCORE

Temple and UCF nearly exchanged fists a couple times throughout the contest.

In the final two minutes of regulation, they exchanged three-pointers. But Temple couldn’t connect on its attempts at the knockout.

The Owls' two missed shots in the waning seconds cost them the game, as they fell short to UCF on Wednesday, 71-69 (see Instant Replay). It was the Owls’ second consecutive game they’ve dropped with under a minute to go at the Liacouras Center. 

Out of the timeout with 13 seconds to go in the game, Daniel Dingle found a wide open Mark Williams on the wing, but his three-pointer rimmed out as Temple (14-15, 5-11 AAC) lost its third consecutive game. Williams finished with 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting off the bench in the contest for the Owls.

"We went to our fifth senior, Dan. We just gave Dan the ball and told him to go make a play," Shizz Alston Jr. said. “He's our leader, he's our fifth-year senior. He made a good play and kicked it to Mark, another senior, and the ball just didn't go in. But it was well-executed. We wouldn't want the ball in two other peoples’ hands, our two leaders."

The lead changed four times in the final two minutes of the contest.

B.J. Taylor drilled a step-back three to give UCF (18-10, 9-7 AAC) a two-point lead with just under two minutes to go in the game.

Obi Enechionyia answered with a three of his own on the ensuing possession to give the Owls a 69-68 lead with 1:27 left in the contest. The junior looked like the player from earlier in the season that received a lot of NBA draft attention. 

After shooting the ball 0 for 3 in the first half and turning the ball over two times, Enechionyia finished the game with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. He also shot 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in the second half.

It was the most points Enechionyia scored since recording a season-high 26 points against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 30.

"It's great to watch him tonight, especially in the second half where he was knocking it out," Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said. "If this is 'getting over it,’ that would be great. It would certainly help us through the regular-season games and in the playoffs as well."

Still, Enechionyia’s night wasn’t a complete success. He missed a potential go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds left on the clock.

Temple had a tough time avoiding Tacko Fall throughout the game. At 7-6 and 290 pounds, the Senegal native clogged up a good chunk of the paint. He finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also had five blocks and two assists.

But when Fall picked up his second foul with just under five minutes to go in the first half, Temple only allowed UCF to score two field goals in the final eight minutes of the frame. 

"Tacko's tough," Dunphy said. "We needed help on the back side a little bit more than we go it. He made a couple of dunks that were pretty free and easy. He's so difficult to defend out there and he knows how to play. He's really getting to be a good basketball player in addition to being that size and length that's so intimidating." 

Things got pretty chippy in the second half between Alston and Matt Williams. As Williams reeled in a pass on the wing, he brought the ball across his body and hit Alston with his elbow, leaving him with a bloody lip. The two had to be separated as Alston got in Williams’ face after getting off the floor.

The officials ruled the elbow by Williams a basketball play and didn’t call a foul.

Minutes later, Williams shoved Alston near the scorer’s table after he made a steal but this time the officials called it a foul. 

"It was just two guys being competitive," Alston said.

Following the incidents between Alston and Williams, fans at the Liacouras Center booed Williams every time he touched the ball. Williams made all but two shots with the boos raining down on him as he scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half to go along with five rebounds and three assists. 

Alston was second in scoring for Temple behind Enechionyia with 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting. 

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule before the AAC tournament, Alston believes with the way the Owls played against UCF, they can make a run in the conference tournament. 

"We lost this one, but the bright spot, like you guys said, Obi started making shots," Alston said. "When he's making shots, I think we're unbeatable. Even though we lost this one, I'm taking away he had 17 [points] in the second half and I know what he can do when he's hitting shots. He's one of the best players in the country.

"If he's making shots and Dan's playing well, I'm playing well, [Quinton Rose] is playing well, we're a tough team to play. So I think we're going to make a deep run and win the tournament."