Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels has reportedly decided to skip his final season with the Huskies to enter the 2014 NBA draft after helping lead the team to a national title.
UConn announced the decision:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports initially broke the news:
Daniels released a statement via Twitter:
Daniels averaged 13.1 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field, including a 41.7 percent mark from beyond the arc. He reached double-digits in scoring in five of UConn's six games en route to the championship.
He had a 27-point, 10-rebound outing against Iowa State in the Sweet 16 that really caused the buzz around him to pick up substantially. The title run as a whole helped him prove himself on a national level, making the decision to declare understandable.
It's that late rise and the uncertainty about whether another season would help him further improve his draft stock that likely swayed his decision toward the NBA. Kevin Duffy of the Connecticut Post noted it's hard to fault him for the decision based on how he finished:
As Duffy mentions, somewhere in the late first round seems like a reasonable early projection for Daniels. The latest mock draft from NBADraft.net has him going to the Houston Rockets with the No. 25 overall selection.
Last week, David Borges of the New Haven Register passed along comments from Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, who said he was going to tell Daniels, as well as Ryan Boatright, to make the best decision for their family:
I'm just going to give them information that I've received from general managers, and then they're going to have to make their own decisions. I don't want to make any decisions for them. I want them to be committed, if they're gonna come back. They've got to have the right attitude. If they decide to go to the pros, they're gonna have to have the right attitude. I'm gonna give them information, and they're gonna have to make the decision that’s best for their family.
Apparently, Daniels decided his best option was taking his chances in the draft.
Now, as a player on the fringe of the first round, he must use the draft process to show off the skill he put on display during the NCAA tournament. There's no doubt he sports plenty of potential, but he had only just started to scratch the surface of it with the Huskies.
One thing the small forward will have to do to succeed at the next level is add some bulk to his frame. He was listed at 6'9" and 195 pounds as a junior at Connecticut. Kevin Durant, who plays the same position and is considered slender by NBA standards, checks in at 240 pounds.
Beyond that, Daniels has illustrated a solid all-around game thanks to the improvement of his outside shot, and he should warrant a pick in the second half of the opening round.