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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat




    UA sophomore Chase Budinger used every allocated minute to evaluate his future by testing the NBA Draft waters over the past five weeks. But ultimately, Budinger will remain at Arizona for his junior year.

    Budinger retracted his name from the NBA Draft before the 2 p.m. MST deadline to resume his eligibility as a Wildcat, the UA announced in a press release.

    Budinger announced his interest in testing the NBA Draft waters on April 8, but never signed an agent.

    “”I’m thrilled that Chase has decided to come back,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson in the 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.””

    UA sophomore Jordan Hill could only keep optimistic on Sunday when speaking with the Arizona Daily Wildcat, describing Budinger’s decision to return as “”not looking good.””

    With his return, Budinger will complete a 2008-09 projected starting lineup with Hill, Nic Wise, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Withey.

    “”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 said Sunday.

    Added Olson: “”With guards like Nic (Wise) and Brandon (Jennings), he’ll have two great passers getting him the ball. Our style of play next year will be much more conducive to Chase having a great year, much like he did when he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2007.””

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

    Budinger said he would have left school if feedback from draft camps and workouts raised his stock to a top-20 pick.

    “”I think his chances of ultimately becoming an All-Star level player would really be enhanced by going back,”” Aran Smith of told the Daily Wildcat before his decision. “”By going (to the league) early he runs the risk of losing his confidence and never realizing his potential.

    “”I think he’s got ability to become a star in the NBA, but right now he’s struggling to defend on the college level. That’s the college level, so he obviously isn’t ready for the next level.””

    On a rigorous nationwide schedule, Budinger aimed to raise his draft stock with private team workouts beginning on June 4. Since then, Budinger has worked his way from the East Coast back to California, most recently with workouts from the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors.

    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 Daily Wildcat before his 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.””

    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 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.””

    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.

    Around the NBA Draft

    Chase wasn’t the only draft hopeful to make a decision on Monday. North Carolina’s Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all opted to return to school. California’s Ryan Anderson and Kansas State’s Bill Walker will stay in the draft.

    Read Wednesday’s edition of the Summer Wildcat for a full recap on Chase’s decision.

    –Lance Madden and Michael Schwartz contributed reporting.

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