With a grin on his face and his heart pounding, Baylor junior guard LaceDarius Dunn announced to the world that he would be passing on the 2010 NBA Draft and returning for his senior season with coach Scott Drew and the Bears.
For Drew and Baylor fans alike, Dunn’s decision to stay makes it a happy day on the Waco, Texas campus.
“This is a great decision,” Dunn told reporters on Thursday evening. “I talked with my family members and coaches that I needed to in order to make this decision. It has been a long week and it has been tough. I had time to get my mind together to figure out what I was going to do."
“I knew that I wanted to be back here with this team and this coaching staff. This is part of the Baylor tradition. We got close this year, so one of my goals is to come back next year and go further [in the NCAA Tournament]. I also wanted to come back and get my degree. If I can do both of those, that would be great.”
With junior forward Ekpe Udoh announcing his decision to declare for the 2010 NBA Draft on Tuesday evening, 22-year-old junior guard Dunn followed suit with a 5 p.m. press conference on Thursday in Waco, Texas.
And when Dunn first began speaking, fans were still on edge.
“I just want to first start off talking about my time here at Baylor,” Dunn said. “It has been a great season. I want to wish Ekpe Udoh the best of luck [with the NBA]. It was a great season. I want to thank the team and all of the players for such a great season. But, I have a decision to make. I just want to say that I’m not declaring for the [NBA] draft and I will be back next year.”
With those final words echoing in the back of my head, I began to get goosebumps as coach Drew’s smile stretched from ear to ear.
“Lace is a player that could play with anybody in the country,” Drew told reporters on Thursday evening. “The fact that he chooses to come back and play with his teammates and help his team reach their full potential, dreams, and goals [is big]. Hopefully next year when it is time for the draft, he will be in a much better position because of the time and work that he has put in. We are excited about that.”
Excited may be an understatement; with Dunn’s returned now laced into the 2010-11 season, coach Drew will be retaining quite a few stars from this year’s remarkable run in addition to a phenomenal incoming freshman class.
“I think this year we had great upperclassmen leadership and he was a part of that,” Drew said. “I think next year’s upperclassmen leadership has a chance to be just as successful. Obviously, Lace is a part of that. Every year you try build [on the previous year]. Tweety [Carter], Josh [Lomers], and Ekpe [Udoh] want this team to be better than they were because you always want more success for the people following you.”
Thank you, Lace, for making the right decision and returning for your senior season; I truly hope you get to attain both your Baylor degree and a NCAA Championship in your final year donning green and gold.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org