HUNTINGTON — For the last 10 days, Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey spent time talking with agents and NBA personnel after entering his name in the pool for the 2021 NBA Draft.
The more he spoke with those representatives, the more Kinsey said his decision became clear.
On Friday, Kinsey made his decision official, announcing that he remove his name from the NBA Draft pool to return to the Thundering Herd in the 2021-22 season.
“I had about a week to sit and think,” Kinsey said. “After sitting and thinking, I think the best decision for me is I will be returning to Marshall University and removing my name from the 2021 (NBA) Draft.”
Kinsey’s physical attributes are draft-ready with his 6-foot-5 frame and 43-inch vertical making him attractive to NBA scouts.
Last season, Kinsey’s efficiency improvements had his name jumping up draft boards with some having him as high as the mid-first round all the way to some having him undrafted.
In the end, though, Kinsey said the decision did not have to do with the physical side of the game. Instead, it was more about the mental preparation necessary to endure the rigors of the NBA.
“I have evaluated my game and there’s a lot of things I feel like I still need to get better at before I try to take a leap into that realm of basketball,” Kinsey said. “Those are the best basketball players in the world and I have no doubt in my mind that I could be one of the best players in the world, too....
“I think coming back for another year and playing under Coach Dan (D’Antoni) — he’s helped me out a lot, all the coaches have helped me out a lot — and I think it would be the best decision if I return and try to mature my game to the fullest level that I can before I take that step.”
Marshall assistant coach Cornelius Jackson, who has worked extensively one-on-one with Kinsey since his arrival in Huntington, said Kinsey’s acknowledgement of what he needs to work on is a tribute to how special of a player he truly is.
“He’s very self-conscious in that sense,” Jackson said. “He knows what he needs to do, he’s very mature and, obviously, his character, we can talk about that until we’re blue in the face.”
Kinsey’s return gives Marshall a scoring centerpiece from which to work for the 2021-22 season.
The Herd lost point guard Jarrod West and shooter Jannson Williams to the NCAA Transfer Portal with West committing to Louisville and Williams still weighing his options, meaning there could be additional touches in his future to showcase his abilities.
Kinsey’s talent has already been on display after a 2020-21 season in which he was a Conference USA First Team selection after being a top-20 performer in several categories within the league.
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard from Columbus averaged 19.5 points (2nd), 6.2 rebounds (10th) and 3.0 assists (14th) per game for the Herd.
Efficiency was the key for Kinsey’s game as he connected on 53.2 percent of his shots from the floor, which was sixth nationally among guards. He also hit 41.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, which would have ranked him in the top-20 nationally among all players had he met the minimum requirements for attempts.
After not having a traditional offseason last year due to COVID-19, Kinsey returns to Marshall looking to put on some weight and refine his game to add more levels at which he can score.
Jackson said that, with the offseason work and Kinsey’s continued commitment to improving, there’s no reason why Kinsey could not further elevate his draft status in the future.
“Taevion has bought into the mentality piece to it,” Jackson said. “With his work ethic, man, his athletic ability and his character, there’s no reason why he can’t be an NBA Lottery pick next year.”