Durant to declare for NBA Draft
|Kevin Durant and coach Rick Barnes|
AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas swingman Kevin Durant intends to declare himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft and will begin the process of hiring an agent, he announced today.
"I enjoyed my year here at Texas," Durant said. "All the fans and everyone here at Texas made me feel right at home, considering I was so far away from home. I will always be a Longhorn and never forget what the people at Texas have done for me."
The first freshman in NCAA history to earn consensus National Player of the Year honors, Durant led the Big 12 Conference in scoring (25.8 ppg), rebounding (11.1 rpg) and blocked shots (67). He was the only player to rank in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring (fourth) and rebounding (fourth).
Durant is the first player in Texas history to declare for the NBA Draft following his freshman year. The 2007 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28 in New York City.
On the decision to leave: I know I developed a lot in college and I thought it was my time to go. My coaches helped me out a lot and my parents sat down with me and we made the decision. It was tough because I knew I was going to leave my teammates, but I had to make the right decision for myself. I think my coaches and teammates understood that, and now that it's over with, I'm happy. It was definitely a hard decision. I'm leaving my family to go somewhere else and it was a very hard decision, but I have to look out for myself and I think I made the right decision. I never really talked to any of the other players. I mainly kept it to my family and myself. I never talked to anyone else about it. My parents just told me to follow my heart and weigh the pros and cons in leaving or not, and in the end, we came up with the right decision.
On any enticements to leave: It's been my dream for a while and I felt like I was ready. I had to take the opportunity. It wasn't the shoe contract or anything like that. I love the game and I thought it was time.
On when the decision was made: This weekend, my family and I were in Los Angeles and we talked about it there. That is when we made the decision. I told my coaches this morning and that's about it.
On if anything has changed: Nothing has changed. I'm still a part of the team and I always will be part of the team. I'm more of mature of a person, I think. I've grown up a lot ever since I have been here. As far as my basketball game goes, I think I have progressed a lot throughout the season.
On the importance of being drafted as a high pick: I just don't want to be a player in the NBA; I want to have an impact. That was one of the big decisions too. I just didn't want to go in there being a regular player. I thought I have achieved that status and it was just my time to go.
On if he ever thought about the decision beforehand: By the end of the season, I had never thought about it. I didn't want to take anything away from the team, so I never thought about it. When the season ended, I knew I had to make a big decision. That's when I took time to think about it.
On how he is feeling about leaving: I'm excited. This is a new challenge and I am looking forward to it, but right now, I am just a regular student here at Texas, and I am still very part of the team. Like I have said, nothing has changed right now. I am going to keep going to my classes. There is no doubt about that. I'm not going to hurt the program. I'm always going to keep going to my classes because like I said, I'm still just a student here at Texas right now.
On finishing college: Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to sit down with my parents in the future and make plans about coming back and have the opportunity to get my degree.
On taking the next steps: My parents are dealing with that and they are talking to agents and people like that. I'm letting them handle that.
On his teammates' reactions: I thought it was time for me to take my game to the next level, and they all understood that. They were all happy for me, and that made me happy as well.
On playing against players like Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal: It's just a game of basketball, and that's what it will always be. I'm always going to work hard when I get there and I am not going to change. I'm always going to work hard on my game. I'm just looking forward to it.
On the rule on having to come to college: I was always going to go to college. It has helped my game out so much. I don't think I would have even gone straight to the NBA. I wanted to come to college and work on my game, and that's what my family wanted.
On what he wanted to accomplish this season: I just wanted to keep progressing and not regress. I think I did that as the season went along. I wanted to work really well with my teammates and that was a big factor, as well. Like I said, my defense got better and I also got stronger. I also worked a lot on my ball handling skills and have the ability to take people off the dribble. I worked with the coaches on my game, as well as growing up as a person. I think I have grown up in both aspects.
On where he would like to be drafted: It doesn't really matter where I am drafted. I just want to be there and make an impact. I really don't know. I leave that up to the people that handle the draft process. I know that I will be one of the high picks, but it doesn't matter where I go.
On what he will miss the most: I'm going to miss just hanging around with my teammates and my coaches. It's been fun. We've been through a lot of ups and downs and this has been one of the most fun teams that I have ever been on.
On the feeling when he finally made the decision: Once I made my decision, I was in my room just thinking about it and I just started smiling because it has been my dream ever since I was young. My dream is coming true, but I know I have to keep working because I am not there yet.
On the Texas team next year: I know for a fact that the guys are going to work hard. And with the new freshman coming in, I know they will contribute to the guys. They won't ever miss a beat. I know they're going to keep doing their thing. I will always be a Longhorn and I will be keeping up with them next season at this time. I know they are going to do great.
On how he felt: I'm excited for Kevin. As coaches and teachers, your job is to help your student athletes realize their dream. There is not doubt that Kevin, along with almost every player we coach; their dream is to, one day, play in the NBA. He had this decision to make and it's his dream to go after it. Everyone goes to college to better themselves. Obviously, this opportunity presents itself for him right now and it's a great opportunity for him.
I'm excited for him because again very few get to see their dream come so early and quickly in life. Kevin has a great gift and we are fortunate here at The University of Texas to have a chance to share that gift and to be a part of it for a year. What he has accomplished this year as a college basketball player has never been done. The impact not only that he has had on the college game, but also what he has done for our program. There is no doubt in my mind that when we sat down to recruit him we knew what his goals were. The one thing we asked him to do was to make sure he would protect our program, that he would do his part academically. That we would be in good standing when he left. There is no doubt in our mind that he is going to protect The University of Texas and do what he wants to do as well as what we need him to do academically.
He comes from great parents who have taught him the difference from right and wrong. It was a hard decision for him because I think he has fallen in love with his teammates. I think he has fallen in love with the Texas family. Life is about making these types of decisions. Right now, this is the right thing for him. Like I have said, I am excited for him and we are all excited for him, not only myself, but also The University and his teammates. We also realize we are fortunate to have spent a year with him.
On having Kevin for one season: I don't think there is a risk recruiting; believe me we would like to have a Kevin Durant every year. I don't think that is a risk. That is the reality of college basketball today. The one thing I have always said is we would never recruit someone that we knew was thinking about one year in college. At this time of year, Kevin could walk away today and not go to class again, but that is not what he is about. We knew really quickly in the recruiting process that there was a standard of not only what he expected, but also what his mom and dad expected. Those who have been around him his whole life knew he was going to go to college and not just be a basketball player. I can sit here and talk about his basketball but we are probably more impressed with the way he has attacked it academically and the way he has gone after that. I think the country got to see him grow up on the basketball court, but as he says, we have watched him grow each and every day to mature into a guy that is ready to take it to the next level. This is going to be a challenge. I don't know of anyone who goes into their future that doesn't struggle a little bit. But, I think he is equipped. I think he has the things that he needs to press forward.
We are going to continue to recruit the best players that we think fit into our philosophy of what we are about at The University of Texas. Character will be the first issue that we look at. There was no question with Kevin that we knew that was a number one priority. Like I have said we were very fortunate to have spent this year with him.He will always be a Longhorn. I know that he will continue to work on his game and I think he will enjoy continuing to come back here because he is a huge part of it.
On the statement being made by Kevin in his practice gear: I don't think this group has ever thought about making statements. I have said all along that this is a unique group and the fact that they have a great deal of love and caring for each other. They were in the gym working out and going about their business as normal. I think Kevin is a great teammate. I think he would tell you that every single one of those guys standing over there are great teammates as well. This has been a group that has been very unselfish and they care about each other. That is one of the reasons that we were able to have the success we had this year, because no one cared who got the credit. I think they are excited for Kevin. I don't think there is any question that he has set a standard, and if you ask those guys, where he is going is where they want to go.
The five guys that were returning from the team last year and these freshmen, they bonded and they bonded quickly. I would be surprised if they weren't here. We didn't tell them to come. They were in the gym together and they knew what was going on today. They broke off their workout to come in here. Like he said, they are his teammates and they will always be his teammates.
On if he thinks about what if Kevin would stay: I can sit here and say what would it have been like with Kevin, LaMarcus Aldridge, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson. You don't do that. I live in the now. I hope we continue to have players like this. I don't think about that.
A year ago, we lost everybody and people said what's next. We will start again right now. We have already started preparing what we have to do for next year. Then, we will welcome the new guys in June. I expect these guys to do exactly what happened to them and lead the way for those guys. Everybody loses players and you can play the "what-if" game, but we have never done that and we won't.
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