Georgia’s hopes of contending for an NCAA tournament berth next season took a hit Monday when its star player said he is declaring for the NBA draft.
Sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is ending his college career after a season in which he was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
“Had he been back, we thought we really would have been in terrific shape from the start,” coach Mark Fox said.
Caldwell-Pope led or tied for the lead in scoring in 29 of 32 games last season, including a career-high 32 points in his last game in an SEC tournament loss to LSU.
The Bulldogs’ top scorer was second in the SEC at 18.5 points per game and accounted for 30.4 percent of Georgia’s points. He was the team’s top rebounder for the second season in a row and led the team in steals, minutes played, field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws made. He ranked among the SEC’s leaders in nine of 13 statistical categories.
The 6-foot-5 player’s stock has risen in recent weeks. He is projected to go No. 19 overall by ESPN’s Chad Ford, and he is the 17th overall prospect by NBAdraft.net and the 31st overall prospect by Draftexpress.com.
GEORGETOWN: All-American Otto Porter Jr. is leaving after his sophomore season and declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft.
“The toughest part was knowing you’re going to leave a great place like this,” Porter said at a news conference on campus alongside coach John Thompson III. “I love this place.”
Porter was the Big East player of the year and finished second in the voting behind Michigan’s Trey Burke for The Associated Press player of the year award. He averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds, both highs for Georgetown.
KENTUCKY: Forward Nerlens Noel will enter the NBA draft as he continues recovering from a torn ACL.
The 6-foot-10 freshman is projected to be a lottery pick despite his season-ending knee injury Feb. 12. He led the nation with 4.4 blocks per game and averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Noel also had 50 steals for Kentucky, earning SEC defensive player of the year honors, along with first team all-conference and freshman team selections.
MARYLAND: Sophomore center Alex Len has decided to enter the NBA draft. The 7-foot-1 player averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 2012-13 and led the ACC with 78 blocked shots.