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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bayless opts to leave for NBA Draft

    UA freshman guard Jerryd Bayless drives to the basket during a 68-66 loss to then-No. 5 UCLA in McKale Center March 2. Bayless announced Saturday he will forego his final three years of eligibility and will enter the June 26 NBA Draft.
    UA freshman guard Jerryd Bayless drives to the basket during a 68-66 loss to then-No. 5 UCLA in McKale Center March 2. Bayless announced Saturday he will forego his final three years of eligibility and will enter the June 26 NBA Draft.

    Jerryd Bayless made a dent in the Arizona record books with his fantastic freshman season.

    By declaring for the NBA on Saturday he recorded another, becoming the first UA player to leave after his freshman season.

    “”I’ve thought carefully about my options since the end of the season, discussed it with my parents and others who could give me appropriate guidance, and made this decision with a clear mind,”” Bayless said in a UA statement. “”I’m going to turn professional. It’s the right time for me to move on. I appreciate the opportunity I had to be part of the Arizona basketball team this year.””

    Bayless, who is projected to be a high lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft, averaged a team-high 19.7 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game last season. He scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games and scored 20 points 12 times and 30 on four different occasions.

    Bayless finished with 592 points on the season, a UA freshman record, and scored at least 30 points in three consecutive games in February, becoming the first Arizona player to ever reach that mark.

    For those accomplishments Bayless was honored as a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated magazine, a third-team pick by Rivals.com and a fourth-team selection by collegehoops.net.

    “”I’m disappointed because I didn’t have one year to work with him, to coach him,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said in a statement. “”Jerryd’s going to be a great player in the NBA. He’s an unbelievable kid with great character, and he’s a great competitor.

    “”I wish him nothing but the best of luck,”” Olson added, “”and I know he will represent the University of Arizona and the state of Arizona very well in the future.””

    The decision did not surprise UA forward Zane Johnson, Bayless’ roommate and best friend on the team.

    “”He told me a while ago,”” Johnson said. “”I told him that it’s probably in his best interest to go. He had such a great season, so I think he’s ready.””

    Johnson, who played with Bayless in high school on the Arizona Magic AAU team, said Bayless will be best attacking the basket in the NBA, adding he’s also “”a great defender when he wants to play defense.””

    “”I think he’s going to be a phenomenal player,”” Johnson said. “”He’s going to be good. He’s got the Baron Davis-type game. He’ll fit right in there perfectly.””

    At his press conference on Tuesday, Olson said he expected Bayless to be selected among the top-six picks if he leaves, and the mock drafts online tend to agree.

    Hoopshype.com has him going No. 3, comparing him to Warriors guard Monta Ellis, and NBADraft.net has him going No. 4 with his comparison being former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas.

    UA forward Chase Budinger remains undecided on his decision to stay or join Bayless in entering the draft.

    UA forward Jordan Hill, who confirmed Friday he would be returning next season, said he expects Budinger to join him back in Tucson.

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