JaJuan Johnson likely won't be a lottery pick in June's NBA draft.
At least, he's not projected there by any of the recruiting analysts on ESPN.com and NBAdraft.net.
Johnson, who just completed his junior season, might not even be a first-round pick.
And that's the problem.
Without having that security of knowing he will be selected in the first round – the first 30 picks are guaranteed contracts – Johnson has a big decision to make Saturday.
Return to Purdue for his season senior and vault the Boilermakers into a legitimate contender for a national championship, assuming classmate E'Twaun Moore stays good on his word of coming back, or decide to stay in the draft, hire an agent and move forward as a professional with no certainty of making an NBA roster.
"If you have a guy who may not be drafted in the first round, I almost always would want them to go back (to school) because it doesn't hurt," NBA assistant director of scouting Ryan Blake said.
There's also been the extra hassle of a shorter window to make a decision. The NCAA mandated a May 8 deadline for non-seniors, who haven't hired an agent, to withdrawal their names from consideration for the draft. Last season, that withdrawal date was in June. That has left players and NBA teams scrambling to fit workouts into about a one-week time frame. Some NBA teams opted to not hold workouts and just wait for the combine May 19-23 in Chicago.
Johnson has been working out for teams, according to his Twitter account, and is expected to wait until Saturday to announce his decision. Johnson has workouts this week with Boston and Houston, and Moore has one Friday with Portland, according to the Indianapolis Star. Johnson and Moore are off-limits to the media.
Purdue coach Matt Painter, who declined comment to The Journal Gazette, told ESPN.com that Johnson has received feedback from the NBA's advisory committee. Painter wasn't specific on what that feedback was.
"The feedback I'm getting is that NBA people aren't going to make the decision of who they're going to draft at this time," Painter told ESPN.com.
Blake is on the advisory committee but also was mum on where he thinks Johnson projects. But Blake said plenty about Johnson's abilities.
"I like him. I think he's a good player. I think he's unique, and he's versatile," Blake said of Johnson, who averaged 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds last season. "I think he's a guy obviously who keeps improving. Every year, the little intangibles, whether it's his scoring, shot-blocking, extending his range.
"Obviously, he needs some work on certain concerns, let's say. But he's someone who is long and lanky, runs the floor, plays team defense. He's a run-and-jump package really."
One of the concerns is Johnson's size. He's 6-foot-10 but only 215 pounds, and nearly every critique on the draft sites and by analysts is that he must get stronger. Blake said he'd also like to see Johnson improve some of his low-post moves and passing skills. Johnson wouldn't seem to fit at an NBA position – not big enough to play center, not good enough with the ball to play the perimeter – but Blake said there really aren't defined positions anymore.
"What the teams are looking for is players," he said. "It only takes one team to like him. This is a league of opportunity. Whether or not he's going to get that opportunity is huge."
Blake stopped short of saying Johnson should return for his senior season, but it could help.
"Any type of player, regardless of the sport, you not only strengthen your concerns but you strengthen your strengths," Blake said. "If you're a guy that, man, you dominate that right-handed hook, let's dominate that left-handed hook. Let's put more variety in low-post moves. Let's get into better conditioning so if you're not big enough to muscle-up on these guys, you can beat the guy down the floor to get in better position. There are so many things you can do."