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Nevada forward Kwame Hymes (42) gets his shot blocked by Utah State center Neemias Queta (23) as forward Alphonso Anderson helps defend during a game on Feb. 28, 2021. Queta has declared for the NBA draft.

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Another Aggie basketball player has decided to leave the program.

However, there was no surprise with this announcement. Neemias Queta announced Monday he would be entering the NBA draft and not returning for his senior season at Utah State. He plans on hiring an agent.

Queta, who is regarded as one of the top 10 centers in the upcoming draft on July 29, tested the NBA waters two years ago after his freshman season with USU. After returning and having a record-setting career with the Aggies, the 7-foot center from Barreiro, Portugal, is now ready to play professionally.

He made the announcement on Twitter: “Aggie Nation, I want to thank all of you for the most amazing three years of my life. “Coming from Portugal to Utah as a 19-year-old young man, I never could’ve expected all the amazing events that would unfold over the next three years. From winning back-to-back Mountain West championships, two NCAA tournaments and building lifelong friendships along the way, I’ve loved every minute of it.

“After discussion with my family and members of the USU coaching staff, I have decided to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA and will declare for the 2021 NBA draft.

“I would like to thank the coaches for believing in me, teaching me and encouraging me to be the best that I can be, every day. I would like to thank my family and friends in Portugal who have supported me since day one. I would like to thank all of my teammates who have become my brothers throughout this journey. Most of all I would like to thank God. I am so grateful for putting me in this situation.

“Aggies all the way! Neemias Queta”

The center leaves USU having set the single game, single season and career blocks records. In the Mountain West Tournament, he recorded nine blocks against Colorado State in a semifinal game to set the school record. He finished his junior season with 97 blocks, breaking his own mark of 84 set as a freshman. His 219 career blocks far surpass the old record of 155 by Gilbert Pete over four years.

In the final game of the 2020-21 season and now his Aggie career, Queta finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks, six assists and one steal against Texas Tech, marking just the second time that a player has recorded 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 5+ blocks in an NCAA Tournament game since the 1985-86 season.

In addition to his prowess as one of the top rim protectors in the nation, Queta also finished second on the team with 31 steals in 2020-21, led the MW and ranked second in the nation in total defensive rating (80.6), led the league and the nation in defensive win shares (2.9) and led the conference and the nation in defensive box plus/minus (6.9).

Queta balanced his defensive excellence with a strong showing on the offensive side of the ball, finishing as the only player in the MW in 2020-21 to average a double-double on the year with 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He finished third on the team with 77 assists this season, averaging 2.7 per contest and was the only player in the nation this year with 75 or more assists and 95 or more blocks.

Queta is one of only two players in the NCAA since 1992-93 to finish the year averaging more than 14.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game, joining Houston’s Bo Outlaw (1992-93) with that distinction. On the glass, Queta finishes his career ranked ninth in school history with 764 career rebounds

A 2021 AP honorable mention All-American, he garnered numerous accolades during his time at USU, including being named one of four finalists for the 2020-21 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, and earning two MW Defensive Player of the Year honors. Queta earned all-Mountain West honors each year, picking up first-team accolades this year and a pair of second-team honors during his freshman and sophomore campaigns, while also being named the 2019 MW Freshman of the Year. Queta was a three-time all-district selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the 2021 US Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) District VIII Player of the Year, in addition to a pair of all-district VIII honors by the USBWA, three-time MW all-tournament honoree and the 2020-21 National Defensive Player of the Year by bleacherreport.com.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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