The Sporting News is reporting that Arizona junior forward Chase Budinger will announce he that will declare for the NBA Draft and not return for his senior season. Collegiate players are only allowed to enter their name for the draft once in their college careers. Since Budinger entered his name last season before withdrawing, he is on his way to the league.
Budinger entered Arizona with a lot of hype. He was widely proclaimed as the best recruit Lute Olson ever had. Olson was his coach only for his freshman season.
Budinger played for Kevin O'Neill as a sophomore and interim coach Russ Pennell this season. The Wildcats advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 2005 before losing to number one seed Louisville.
The turmoil and turnover led to a less than successful era. Arizona's two wins in this year's tournament were the only ones Budinger had during his three-year tenure.
The 6-foot-7 junior improved every season. He flourished this season under Pennell's open court style. Budinger scored in double figures in all but four games. He finished the season averaging 18 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 3.4 apg. He shot 39.9 percent from three-point range, 48 percent from the field and 80.1 percent from the line. He also accumulated 50 steals.
The Sporting News' Sean Deveney received a copy of Budinger's press relase that is expected to come out later in the week.
"I am so thankful for the fans and alumni at Arizona that have been so supportive of me throughout my time in Tucson. I'd like to express my appreciation to my coaches and teammates for their support in one of the most important decisions I've ever made. I will not be returning to Arizona and I will be entering the 2009 NBA draft."
Budinger is projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick. Scouts are impressed by Budinger's athleticism. He is also a world class volleyball player. The knock on him is a lack of commitment to defense.
New Arizona coach Sean Miller will now go to work on finding an immediate replacement. They have small forward Jamelle Horne on the roster and USC verbal commitment Solomon Hill is said to be re-considering Arizona.