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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Budinger returns, solidifies lineup”

    UA forward Chase Budinger sets himself up for a free throw ina 76-72 overtime loss at Kansas on Nov. 25. After testing the NBA Draft waters and working out for several NBA teams, Budinger pulled his name out of the draft on Monday and opted to return to Arizona for his junior season.
    UA forward Chase Budinger sets himself up for a free throw ina 76-72 overtime loss at Kansas on Nov. 25. After testing the NBA Draft waters and working out for several NBA teams, Budinger pulled his name out of the draft on Monday and opted to return to Arizona for his junior season.

    UA sophomore Chase Budinger took procrastination to a whole new level in deciding his future – a method all too familiar among college students like himself.

    And fittingly, Budinger ultimately decided to return as a Wildcat next year, having spent over five weeks in the NBA Draft waters.

    Since his decision on April 8 to become available but not committed to the NBA Draft, Budinger has participated in pre-draft camps and workouts in an effort to raise his stock to a top-20 pick.

    By not immediately signing an agent – as teammate Jerryd Bayless did – Budinger kept the option to maintain college eligibility if unfavorable feedback from NBA general managers did not guarantee Budinger a selection inside the top-20 threshold.

    Meanwhile, the 2008-09 Arizona men’s basketball team waited in anticipation of whether its future included an integral piece to next year’s puzzle.

    Even just one day before the deadline, UA sophomore Jordan Hill thought otherwise.

    “”It’s not looking good about him coming back but maybe he’ll sleep on it tonight and talk about it and hopefully he’ll come back for next season,”” Hill told the Daily Wildcat on Sunday. “”I text him a lot saying we really need him and that it’s a good thing for him to come back, get your stock up higher,”” Hill added.

    Fortunately for the returning Wildcats, Hill’s efforts proved worthy for one more season out of Budinger, who withdrew his name shortly before Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline.

    “”The opportunity to play again for (UA head) coach (Lute) Olson in my mind best prepares me to have a successful NBA career,”” said Budinger in a news release. “”I want to enter the NBA with great certainty of my future potential and believe the chance to develop further under Coach Olson enhances that opportunity.””

    But there is an even greater bonus for Olson than Budinger’s return: the 6-foot-7 forward now plays at a whole new level, having spent weeks with a rigorous workout schedule and undivided focus on basketball and preparing for the NBA.

    Throughout the training, Budinger improved mechanics such as faster footwork, higher jumping and better shooting at a heavier weight, said Duncan Budinger in a phone interview with the Summer Wildcat before his son’s decision.

    With so much of an improvement, Duncan now describes Chase as a “”completely different player,”” after beginning the off-season at 203 pounds in March to his current weight of 219.

    “”I was just watching a tape of him in the Kansas and Memphis game – looking at him in those two games and looking back at the last time I saw him at his workout, he’s a completely different player,”” Duncan said. “”Completely different player. And that’s all due to the fact (that) Chase has been able to concentrate on his body and his basketball workouts. It’s made him faster, quicker, stronger and bigger.””

    Recent Internet mock drafts projected Budinger to be picked 15th to 22nd overall – NBADraft.net predicted Phoenix to take Budinger with its No. 15 pick, HoopsHype.com with Cleveland’s No. 19 pick, ESPN.com with New Jersey’s No. 21 pick and DraftExpress.net with Orlando’s No. 22 pick.

    Duncan did not return phone calls on Monday or Tuesday.

    “”I’m thrilled that Chase has decided to come back,”” said Olson in a press release. “”Selfishly, I feel the decision is in Chase’s best interest. I feel that in a year he will be a top-10 pick. With guards like Nic (Wise) and Brandon (Jennings), he’ll have two great passers getting him the ball.””

    A complete overhaul in assistant coaches during the off-season had no affect on Chase’s decision, Duncan said before Chase’s decision.

    Olson hired assistants Mike Dunlap, Russ Pennell and Reggie Geary to replace Josh Pastner, Miles Simon and Kevin O’Neill.

    “”The coaching situation, other than we appreciate their support, really hasn’t played in,”” Duncan said. “”You have to go into these type of things with the mindset, saying you’re committed 100 percent.

    “”You can’t go forward into a career in the NBA with doubts,”” Duncan added. “”You have to go out there with 100 (percent) commitment if you’re going to have an opportunity at it.””

    Now, Arizona’s projected starting lineup instantly becomes a serious contender with the return of Chase. With Wise and Jennings in the backcourt, Chase has two talented guards with Jordan Hill and Jeff Withey on the block.

    Out of Olson’s 10 draft picks to test the waters, only Jason Gardner (2001), Chris Rodgers (2005) and Mustafa Shakur (2006) returned to Arizona after the testing period. None of the three ended up playing in the NBA.

    – Lance Madden contributed to this report

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