CINCINNATI -- For the second straight offseason, Trevon Bluiett tested the NBA draft waters without hiring an agent.
And for the second straight offseason, the standout guard decided to return to Xavier.
The Musketeers announced Tuesday evening that Bluiett will be back for his senior campaign, a major boon for a program coming off an Elite Eight run in which he was a major influence. Bluiett averaged 21.3 points in Xavier's four NCAA tournament games including 29 points in a dominating victory over Florida State.
The Indianapolis native averaged a team-high and Big East-second 18.5 points throughout the 2016-17 season. He also added a team-second 5.7 rebounds as a junior.
"Trevon is one of the best players in all of college basketball and we're excited to have him back in the role of senior leader," coach Chris Mack said in a statement. "Tre has been part of three straight NCAA tournament appearances including trips to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. He competes every day and continues to improve in every facet of the game. I know our fans are ecstatic."
Sure enough, the news made an immediate impact on Twitter, where Mack posted a smiling emoji and Bluiett posted a highlight reel with the message "Round 4!! #STILL #96." The "96" stands for the 96th team in Xavier history.
Round 4#STILL #96 pic.twitter.com/PpWfaa2JbT
— Trevon Bluiett (@TrevonBluiett) May 23, 2017
Bluiett's entry had more than 530 likes in 30 minutes.
Two months ago Bluiett was immensely emotional after the Musketeers' Elite Eight loss to Gonzaga, which fueled speculation that he had played his last game at XU. Soon after, he sought feedback from the pros through multiple NBA workouts, but he preserved his collegiate eligibility by not hiring an agent.
The deadline for un-agented college players to withdraw their names is Wednesday.
Bluiett learned from NBA professionals in 2016 that he needed to streamline his physique and work on his ball handling. He entered the season down 15 pounds and kept it off, playing inspired ball down the stretch and banishing pedestrian NCAA tournament performances of years past.
He became the player Xavier wanted with the ball in his hands when a game was on the line.
Bluiett did not immediately respond to an interview request about his decision to return for the 2017-18 season. It is unknown how the events of early April, when he was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana, hash oil or hashish in Carmel, Indiana, impacted his professional aspirations.
Former Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner declared for the draft and hired an agent and is projected to be taken in the NBA draft's second round. Bluiett was a late second-round projection soon after the season but has since fallen off multiple major mock draft boards.
By coming back to Xavier, Bluiett will earn his degree and the Musketeers will retain a versatile player who creates mismatches as a stretch-four. Not only will he have the opportunity to take the Musketeers to new heights, but Bluiett will play his final Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout at Cintas Center.
He scored a career-best 40 points behind a school-record-tying nine 3-pointers in the Musketeers' 86-78 loss to Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena last January.
Three years ago Bluiett arrived at Xavier as part of the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history. He joined J.P. Macura, Sean O'Mara, Sumner and Makinde London (who transferred to Chattanooga). That quintet was rated No. 4 nationally by ESPN.com.
Bluiett will now lead a consensus Top 10 recruiting class featuring Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Elias Harden, Kentrevious Jones and Jared Ridder. Six-foot-10 grad transfer Kerem Kanter, who also tested the NBA waters without hiring agent and withdrew his name, will help fill the frontcourt void left by the graduated RaShid Gaston.
The Musketeers also lost Malcolm Bernard, who like Gaston exhausted his eligibility and hired an agent.
Individually, Bluiett has a chance to impact Xavier's record books. He enters his senior season with 1,585 career points and is on pace to become the program's fifth 2,000 point scorer. Bluiett could finish as high as second on the Musketeers' all-time scoring list.