Western Carolina junior guard Mason Faulkner recently declared for the NBA Draft but has elected to keep his collegiate eligibility by not hiring an agent.

“This is a great opportunity for Mason to continue the process of chasing his dream of playing at the highest level,” WCU Coach Mark Prosser said. “Our job is to recruit players into our program and do whatever we can to help accomplish their individual goals. Mason had a great year and should be acknowledged for it. He has a realistic shot at playing in the NBA either next season or the following year.”

At the time of his entry, Faulkner was among more than 60 underclassmen announcing that they’ll test the waters of the NBA Draft.

Faulkner, who began his collegiate career at Northern Kentucky and sat out the 2018-19 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules, made an immediate impact on the Catamounts last season with a team-best 17.7 points per game and 550 total points scored. He posted the first triple-double during the program’s NCAA Division I era with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against N.C. A&T on Nov. 12 and followed that up with a second triple-double in the home finale against Samford.

Faulkner, who is from Glasgow, Kentucky, earned first team All-Southern Conference honors and was a member of the conference all-tournament team.

Prior to his arrival at Western, Faulkner spent two seasons at NKU, where he averaged 6.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

By declaring for the draft, Faulkner will be able to receive an evaluation from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee and take part in both NBA Draft Combine and G League Elite Camp, which are tentatively scheduled for mid-May. He can also conduct workouts with NBA team representatives, although dates are up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NCAA rules, a student-athlete may retain collegiate eligibility by withdrawing from the draft prior to 11:59 p.m. on June 3.

“He’ll get honest feedback from those who evaluate what it takes to play in the NBA,” Prosser said. “That feedback will help guide him in his development as a player. Now is the time of year where each of our student-athletes push to improve individually. We want that from all of our players, including Mason. In doing so it will make our team better as a whole as we work towards our goal of making the NCAA Tournament and hanging a banner in the Ramsey Center.”

While Faulkner may be looking ahead to a potential professional career, one final season at WCU is not out of the question.

“We would welcome Mason back to Cullowhee with open arms if he chooses to return,” Prosser said. “Our hope is to have the opportunity to coach Mason, but we’ll always support what’s best for each player in our program.”

The draft is scheduled for June 25 in New York City. However, with the NBA season suspended that date is subject to change.