Oakland’s Trey Townsend as he weighs his future: It’s not all about the money

Trey Townsend has been able to take a few days off since Oakland’s season came to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but things are about to start picking up again.

Townsend has a big decision to make about his future, and there are three options: Enter the NBA Draft, transfer to a power-conference school for his final season of college eligibility or return for a fifth season at Oakland.

One of those, playing college ball on the biggest stage next season, seems more likely than the other two, but Townsend is going to take the next several weeks to make sure that’s the right decision. The big man from Oxford, who was the Horizon League player of the year and Horizon League tournament MVP before posting a pair of double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament, is likely to know his path by the middle or end of May.

The process will start by going through the pre-NBA Draft evaluation, meaning he will officially declare for the NBA Draft in the coming days, he told The Detroit News. He will have representation, but will leave open the option to return to school. The deadline to pull out of the NBA Draft is the end of May.

“I want to go through the pre-draft process and see what comes with that and get some feedback, regardless of what decision I make,” Townsend told The News on Thursday.

“I don’t have a set timetable for any major decision.”

Townsend, 21, played four seasons at Oakland, becoming a bigger and bigger part of the rotation every year, peaking this year, when he averaged 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

He absolutely put Oakland on his back, with a 38-point, 11-rebound performance in the Horizon League championship win over Milwaukee to get Oakland to its first NCAA Tournament since 2011.

He then had 17 points and 12 rebounds in an 80-76 upset win over Kentucky, and then 30 points and 13 rebounds in a 79-73 overtime loss to N.C. State. He put up those numbers against much bigger opponents, and he did that under the bright lights of March Madness, which has only increased his stock. Most put his potential NIL payday well into six figures — maybe even as much as $500,000 — should he transfer to a power-conference school, which would be much more money than if he were to enter the NBA and potentially start in the G League.

Townsend stays mostly off social media during the season, but he’s caught wind of what folks are saying, and he’s uncomfortable with all the money talk.

“People are sending me things from Twitter. It’s like a mix of emotions,” Townsend said. “The narrative I feel is that it’s all about money and things of that nature. Obviously, that’s a big factor. But it’s making me seem like a greedy person, which is not really the case at all.

“So many things are going into this decision. I’m taking my time.”

Hey, welcome to the spotlight, Trey.

“Everyone has their own opinion,” he said. “It’s cool to be a topic of conversation. You sign up for it.

“Coming out of high school, I was never a hot topic or a hot recruit.”

Townsend’s story has been well told, more so in recent days, as Oakland earned its first-ever win in the Round of 64 and became the darling of the NCAA Tournament, thanks in large part to Townsend and Jack Gohlke — who’ve both cashed in a little bit with some late-season NIL opportunities.

He is the son of two parents, Skip and Nicole, who both played basketball at Oakland, and Townsend figures he first met Kampe when he was 2 or 3. He started attending Kampe’s camps when he was 8, and all he wanted to do was grow up and play for the Golden Grizzlies.

Towsend did just that — and did it well. He had a chance to transfer last year, but wanted to graduate from Oakland, which he will do this year — a degree is a requirement by Kampe to get your number raised to the O’Rena rafters.

Because of COVID, Townsend has a fifth year of eligibility, and Kampe has vowed to help Townsend make the best decision, knowing that decision likely includes the transfer portal and a fifth season in a power conference. Think about it. Townsend’s NIL payday has the potential to be worth more than Kampe’s annual salary.

That’s why, while Kampe holds a sliver of hope that Townsend could return, given there is an engaged fan base after the NCAA Tournament run and possibly some more NIL commitments coming in, he knows the reality. And he thinks so much of Townsend, he’d probably drive him to his next school and help him unpack.

“That just shows that he really is a man of his word,” Townsend said of Kampe. “You kind of knew going into this year it most likely … it would be my last year (at Oakland). And he’s always going to want what’s best for him.

“It’s just great to have him in my corner. He means it, that he’ll support whatever decision is best.

“It’s such a special thing to have someone like that in your corner.”

As for his immediate plans, Townsend plans to get back in the gym and weight room in the coming days, and he has a public schedule to attend to now, given his increased popularity in recent weeks. He will appear with Gohlke at an autograph signing in Livonia on April 7 and a Red Wings game on April 9, and Townsend, Gohlke and Kampe will be at the Tigers’ game on April 13 to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.



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