Houston guard Marcus Sasser is declaring for the NBA Draft after developing into one one of college basketball's top lead guards over the past four seasons, he announced Thursday. Sasser earned Second Team All-America honors from CBS Sports during his senior season and was also the AAC's Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

Sasser entered Houston as just a three-star prospect in the Class of 2019, but quickly found a key role for the Cougars as a freshman and grew into a larger role for the program as his career progressed. The 6-foot-1 Sasser slotted in more naturally as a shooting guard for Houston than as a point guard, but he fits the bill of an undersized combo guard as he departs for the next level.

He led Houston in scoring this past season at 16.8 points per game as the Cougars earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after spending several weeks at No. 1 in the AP poll. Over an injury-shortened 2021-22 season and a full 2022-23 campaign, he made 39.9% of his 3-pointers while proving to be one of the game's top volume shooters. Sasser also averaged 3.1 assists this past season compared to just 1.6 turnovers while alternating between on and off-ball duties.

Marcus Sasser's NBA Draft projection

At 6-foot-1, Sasser's defensive acumen is the biggest question about his viability at the next level. He averaged 1.6 steals per game for the Cougars in 2022-23 and helped make Houston's defense one of the best in the country. But there will likely be questions about his ability to guard the bigger guards and wings who are common throughout the NBA. After playing four years for Kelvin Sampson at Houston, he has an excellent grasp of defensive fundamentals, though, and his firepower as a shooter and playmaker may be enough to get him drafted late in the first round.

Sasser ranks No. 20 in the 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings from CBS Sports. He went at No. 25 in a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone and landed at No. 23 in Gary Parrish's most recent mock draft.

"Any lead guard who can create scoring opportunities off the bounce, guard his position and make perimeter jumpers is an obvious NBA prospect," Parrish wrote."He might be a high-floor/low-ceiling prospect, but at this point in any draft teams should be thrilled to simply find a player who will stick."

Impact on Houston

Sasser could have returned for a fifth season of college basketball because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so losing him to the draft is a blow for the Cougars. But the program fared well without him when he suffered a season-ending injury after 12 games in the 2021-22 season, and there are returning players capable of replacing his production. Jamal Shead, Truman Mark, Emmanuel Sharp and Terrance Arceneaux are guards with remaining eligibility who help keep Houston's backcourt among the game's best.