After reports came out yesterday that UConn Huskies freshman center Andre Drummond was going to jump ship and head to the NBA, he made the decision official on Friday.
Here’s the release from UConn:
STORRS, Conn. – University of Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond has announced that he will make himself available for the 2012 NBA Draft, foregoing his final three seasons of college eligibility.
“My family and I feel that this is the right time for me to take the next step in my basketball career,” Drummond said. “It has always been a goal of mine to compete against the world’s best players and that is one of the big factors for me in making this decision.
“Although I was only at UConn for one year, the experience I gained playing against the best competition at the college level greatly helped me prepare for what I will face as I pursue a career as a professional.”
Drummond (Middletown, Conn.), a 6-10 center, is expected to be a top five pick in the draft, which takes place on June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
“Andre is a developing player with unlimited potential and his projected position in the draft is as good as almost any player I’ve ever had,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Very few players get such a tremendous opportunity, and he’s got to take advantage of it.”
Drummond, 18, did not decide to attend college until just before the first semester began, paid his own way, and therefore has been classified as a walk-on with the Huskies. He made quite an impact, however, playing in all 34 games, the last 30 as a starter, and averaging 28.4 minutes a contest.
Drummond averaged 10.0 points per game, while leading the team in rebounding at 7.6 per game, field goal percentage at .538, and blocked shots with 92. His 2.7 blocks per game ranked third in the BIG EAST Conference and 14th in the country. Drummond, who was selected to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team, had 10 double-doubles during the season, a record for a UConn freshman under Calhoun.
“I really appreciate the time and effort that Coach Calhoun and the whole coaching staff at UConn put in to help me improve my game,” Drummond said. “I also want to thank our tremendous Husky fans and my teammates. I have developed strong relationships at UConn that will be part of my life forever.”
Sophomore Jeremy Lamb, who declared his availability for the NBA Draft earlier this week, and Drummond become the 14th and 15th UConn players under Calhoun to leave school early to enter the draft. Of the 13 before Lamb and Drummond, all but one was drafted in the first round and 10 were lottery picks.
“Andre came here because he wanted to play for the state school and he showed a great deal of loyalty to our program and to the state itself,” Calhoun said. “Andre and his family have been great people to deal with. Naturally, we’re sad to see him go, but we wish him nothing but great successes in the future.”
Drummond was considered one of the top prospects in the country while leading St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn., to the 2011 Prep National Championship.
“I truly enjoyed my whole college experience and I hope to return in the future to earn my degree,” Drummond said. “As a kid from Connecticut, playing basketball at UConn in front of hometown fans for me was a dream come true.”
photo credit: John Woike – Hartford Courant