Malachi Flynn in SDSU’s win over Cal Poly. Photo credit: Ernie Anderson, via goaztecs.com

San Diego State’s 2020-21 prospects will take a serious hit, according to college basketball observers, now that point guard Malachi Flynn has decided to forego his final year of college eligibility.

ESPN said the team could have thought “nearly as big” in the coming season after the 30-2 campaign in 2019-20. Flynn emerged as a star and the leader of the team.

He opted last week though to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. According to ESPN, that decision leaves the Aztecs again as “a bubble team,” rather than a March Madness lock.

Coach Brian Dutcher described the program as “immensely proud of Malachi and everything he has accomplished in his two years in our program.

“When he arrived on campus, we knew he was a uniquely talented basketball player. What we quickly learned was that he had an intense work ethic and a team-first mentality which endeared him to his teammates and the community.”

Flynn, in his lone season on the court with SDSU (he had to sit out a year as a transfer from Washington State), led the team to a regular-season Mountain West Conference title and a No. 6 ranking in the nation.

Experts projected the Aztecs as at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but their post-season run was derailed as the coronavirus pandemic caused the mass cancellation of professional and college sporting events.

In a statement, Flynn said he came to the decision “after receiving feedback from NBA teams and thoughtful discussions with my family and Coach Dutcher.”

He called the Aztecs’ remarkable run, which included a 26-game win streak, a “magical season.” He also thanked “my teammates, the coaching staff, and the university for helping me become the basketball player and man I am today,” while saying he “will never forget the way the San Diego community and The Show embraced me …”

The Tacoma native became SDSU’s most decorated Aztec, as the third consensus All-American in program history. He joins Kawhi Leonard and Michael Cage in earning the honor.

He also was the second Aztec to be named to the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team. He became a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year, Naismith National Player of the Year and Lute Olson National Player of the Year awards as well.

In 32 starts, Flynn averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game. He added 56 steals and three blocks in 1,072 total minutes on the floor.

– Staff reports

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