Both North Carolina junior Rashad McCants and Indiana junior Bracey Wright will forgo their senior seasons to enter the NBA draft.
McCants said yesterday he will enter the NBA draft, after helping the Tar Heels win their fourth national championship this season.
McCants, the team’s second-leading scorer at 16 points a game, said he was in the process of hiring an agent, a move that would prevent him from returning for his senior season. But he said he would continue working to earn his college degree.
McCants said he came back to school after his sophomore season to win a national championship. He also said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, who helped North Carolina win a national title before leaving for the NBA as a junior.
“I felt like my whole reason for coming back last year was to get those goals accomplished,” McCants said at a news conference. “And I did.”
McCants’s announcement made official a decision that had been expected for more than a week. Less than a day after the Tar Heels beat Illinois 75-70 in the NCAA final, coach Roy Williams addressed McCants’s future by saying, “We could lose some guys, there’s no question about that. And we are going to lose Rashad.”
Williams said yesterday that McCants had his “complete support” in jumping to the NBA.
McCants scored 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting in 31 minutes against Illinois in the National Championship game.
Others might soon follow. Fellow juniors Sean May and Raymond Felton, and freshman Marvin Williams are also considering their plans for next season.
On Tuesday night, Felton said he made a decision but wasn’t ready to announce it.
Williams said he was leaning one way, while May — the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four who has said he plans to stay at school — wouldn’t commit to returning for his senior year.
If all four underclassmen leave along with seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott, the Tar Heels will lose their top seven scorers.
Players who want to enter the NBA draft early must file by May 14. The draft is June 28.
Wright said yesterday he will also forgo his senior year and enter the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-3 junior led the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 18.3 points as the Hoosiers finished 15-14 and missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year. He ends his career 15th on Indiana’s all-time scoring list with 1,498 points.
“I am excited about the possibility of playing in the NBA, and it has always been a dream of mine,” Wright said in a statement.
Wright said he would hire an agent at the end of the semester.
“I wanted to complete my coursework,” he said. “I expect to finish that soon, and at that time I will then turn my focus towards the NBA draft and pre-draft camps.”
Indiana coach Mike Davis called it a “great opportunity” for Wright, a 2002 McDonald’s high school All-American from The Colony, Texas.
“Bracey has a lot of talent and will be a terrific professional player,” Davis said. “We are going to miss him here at Indiana, but at the same time, we are excited about the players who are here and the newcomers next season.”
Wright was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, when he scored at least 20 points in 10 games. He had three games with 30 or more points, including a season-high 32 points in an overtime victory over Michigan State.
He is the first Indiana player to win the Big Ten scoring title since A.J. Guyton in 2000. The NBA draft is June 28.
The NBA Draft will be held June 28 at the Theater in Madison Square Garden.