After a dominant sophomore campaign at the University of Michigan, guard Nik Stauskas has declared for the 2014 NBA draft, the program confirmed Tuesday in a release announcing his and Glenn Robinson III"s decision to go pro:
Stauskas talked about the decision to go pro in a release from the program:
For as long as I can remember I have had a goal of playing in the NBA, whether it was on my backyard court or winning the Big Ten title at Crisler Center. Following some heartfelt discussions with my family, Coach [John] Beilein and the rest of the coaching staff, I am ready to pursue my goals and begin my NBA career.
What cannot be understated is how the University of Michigan has helped prepare me for this moment both on and off the court. This great university took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to achieve my college basketball dreams. I hope in some small way, I was able provide some lasting moments. As I move forward into this next stage of my life, it cannot be said enough how thankful I am to the Wolverine fans for embracing me. I will always be a Wolverine at heart.
Stauskas will join an already stacked 2014 draft class, but his unique skill set should allow him to stand out above many of his peers.
He was a driving force behind the Wolverines' run to the NCAA title game in 2013 as a freshman, and he took his game to another level this past season. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. making the leap to the NBA, Stauskas became head coach John Beilein's go-to player.
Stauskas averaged 17.5 points per game and proved to be one of the most dangerous long-range threats in college basketball with 92 three-point field goals made. He was far from a one-dimensional player, though, as he dished out 3.3 assists per contest and proved capable of attacking the rim as well.
Despite the fact that Stauskas seemingly didn't have much left to prove at the collegiate level, the Canadian phenom took his time when it came to making a decision about his future.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reported on April 10 that Stauskas had decided to enter the draft, but Stauskas made it clear that he was still considering all possibilities:
Just wanted to reiterate that any reports about my future intenions are FALSE! I have NOT made ANY decisions on my future yet!— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 10, 2014
Also, according to Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com, Stauskas sent a text on April 10 about hearing from the NBA advisory board.
"Let people know that I just heard from the NBA advisory committee (on April 9) and haven't jumped to any conclusions yet," Stauskas wrote. "I'm not in a rush to make this decision. I believe I will have my decision ready after this weekend."
Apparently Stauskas was content with the advisory committee's assessment, as he ultimately decided that jumping to the NBA was the best possible option for him.
Although Michigan fans have to be disappointed that they'll be without their star for the 2014-15 college basketball season, Tyler Duffy of The Big Lead was among many analysts who urged Stauskas to try his hand at the next level:
Stauskas may not be able to usurp the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid atop the draft, but he seemingly has all the makings of a lottery pick.
He can hit shots from anywhere on the floor, is athletic enough to create his own shots and has great size at 6'6" and 205 pounds.
Is entering the draft the right decision by Stauskas?
Stauskas could certainly stand to add a bit more bulk to his frame, which would help immensely on the defensive end, but his offensive abilities are already good enough to make an impact in the NBA.
Even so, it can be argued that Stauskas might have been better off staying in school for one more year. He almost certainly would have improved on his already strong numbers, plus he may have had less elite talent to contend with.
The 2014 class is significantly better than the 2013 crop, so there is a great deal of volatility in the NBA draft. It's tough to fathom the 2015 class rivaling the current one, so perhaps Stauskas would have been a top-five pick.
It is all speculation at this point, though, and it's tough to blame Stauskas for chasing his dream. There is always risk involved when a top player returns to school. If nothing else, Stauskas will get his initial NBA payday.
Stauskas' abbreviated Michigan career was a great one, and it will be interesting to see if his NBA career is nearly as good.
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