LOGAN — Neemias Queta had a message for Utah State men’s basketball, its coaches and players, and — perhaps most importantly — its fans.
It came on a Sunday afternoon, the deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft and more than a month before the June 15 deadline to withdraw without hiring an agent.
The message, at its most brief, boiled down to three words:
“I’m back — again.”
Queta will return to Utah State for his junior season, the 7-foot Portuguese center announced Sunday on social media. His first two seasons have both ended in Mountain West championships, with the most recent coming on a last-gasp 3-pointer by teammate Sam Merrill on the final shot of the Bountiful product’s acclaimed Utah State career.
And while Merrill will go on to a professional career, and fellow graduate Abel Porter has committed to Ohio State for his final season of eligibility, Queta will be back in the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum for the 2020-21 season.
“My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but now is not the right time to declare for the draft,” Queta wrote in his announcement. “We have continued to build a great program here at Utah State and it is one that I am very proud of representing.
“Let’s pack the Spectrum next season so together we can climb to the top of the Mountain West once again.”
Queta tested the NBA draft waters a year ago, even participating in the draft combine, before ultimately deciding to return to Logan. This year, he didn't feel he needed to go that far, with predraft workouts — as well as the NBA's current season — in limbo due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
With Queta back, the Aggies will once again be among the best teams in the Mountain West preseason in 2020-21. After averaging 13.0 points and 7.8 rebounds in a sophomore season plagued by injuries at the beginning of the year, Queta suffered a mild setback in Year 2 in Logan.
His scoring production increased, but his rebounding dropped 1.1 rebounds per game in 13 fewer contests — including 15 fewer starts. At times, the Aggies were downright reliant on USBWA District VIII player of the year Merrill, Porter and other shooters, to say nothing of the defensive tenacity of graduating senior Diogo Brito, who had 119 steals this season.
With Queta returning, Utah State brings back two of its top three scorers, three of the top five, and four of the top six in Justin Bean, Brock Miller and Alphonso Anderson. Merrill was clearly the Aggies’ go-to guy at 19.7 points per game, but Queta and Bean (11.5 points, 10.5 rebounds per game) also averaged in double figures. They’ll also return the services of Marco Anthony, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard who played two seasons at Virginia, including the Cavaliers’ 2019 national championship.
“Aggie nation will be ready,” Bean wrote on his Twitter account in response to Queta’s announcement. “Let’s get it, brother.”