James Harden Declares for NBA Draft

John PetersonContributor IApril 8, 2009

The inevitable is here.

All-American guard James Harden entered his name into the 2009 NBA Draft today and intends on hiring an agent soon, erasing any chance of returning to Arizona State for his junior season.

Harden notched the Pac-10 Player of the Year award this season after averaging 20.1 points per game and leading his Sun Devils to their second consecutive 20-plus win season.

The athletic southpaw was a prize recruit two years ago out of Artesia High School in Los Angeles and played a huge role in the resurgence of ASU basketball.

Harden finished his Sun Devil career undefeated against in-state rival Arizona (5-0) and was the first player to lead the Pac-10 in points and steals since U of A's own Jason Terry did it in 1996-97.

NBA scouts are salivating over Harden's talent and ability to take over a game. His draft stock soared over the past season, as he's projected to be drafted early in the first round.

Some believe his poor performance in this year's NCAA Tournament, however, will have an impact on where he goes. In ASU's first round victory over Temple, Harden scored just nine points. He followed that performance with only 10 points in the Devils' second round loss to Syracuse.

Wherever Harden goes, I'm sure he'll have success. ASU fans will miss seeing No. 13 cross-over opponents and carry the team on his back if need be. He almost single-handedly put Arizona State basketball back on the map.