Gay to leave UConn for NBA draft

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut forward Rudy Gay said Monday he
will forgo his final two years of eligibility and enter the NBA

ESPN.com's Andy Katz reports that Gay is likely to hire an agent, thus forfeiting his eligibility.

The 6-foot-9 Gay averaged a team-best 15.2 points a game this
past season, and is projected to be a lottery pick. He also
averaged 6.4 rebounds and had a team-high 56 steals for the Huskies

"It was a tough decision. It took a lot of time, a lot of
thought," Gay said. "When you sign on the dotted line to go to
college, you plan on being there four years. When I came to UConn I
didn't think about any time period or any time when I should

The scouting reports helped that decision for him.

Based on his conversations with NBA executives
and scouts, UConn coach Jim Calhoun said Gay is projected to be taken in the top six of the June
28 draft.

"This is the time for a tremendously talented guy to take
advantage of a tremendous opportunity," Calhoun said. "I see
nothing but greatness ahead for him. There's no question that Rudy
will fulfill the promise that those people who draft him have in

A prep star out of Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md., Gay
appeared in 64 games for UConn and finished averaging 13.6 points a
game. A consensus All-American as a sophomore, he was one of four
finalists for the Naismith player of the year.

The athletic and rangy Gay delighted UConn fans over the past
two years with his thunderous dunks, but could never consistently
take over a game. Calhoun pointed out that Gay was surrounded by
veteran players like seniors Rashad Anderson, Hilton Armstrong and
Denham Brown and his numbers were in line with being on a very deep
team that for a while was ranked No. 1 in the country.

"The year he just put together, the kid got overlooked a little
bit," Calhoun said. "He was having a terrific year on a terrific
team. We never would have been [No. 1] without Rudy."

Gay had a career-high 28 points in the Maui Invitational against
Arkansas. He scored 20 in the Huskies' loss to George Mason in the
NCAA regional final in Washington.

He is the second underclassman to leave early for the Huskies
this year. Junior Josh Boone has entered himself in the draft but
hasn't hired an agent, allowing him the option of returning to school next
season. He has until June 18 to withdraw from the draft.

Connecticut is also expecting junior point guard Marcus Williams to announce his intentions to leave for the NBA and sign with an agent later this week.

The Connecticut coaching staff said throughout the season that they expected Gay to be gone. They also anticipated Williams' departure. That's in part why the Huskies signed six players in the fall. UConn was already losing four seniors. So, the Huskies will have a North Carolina-like exodus if Boone stays in the draft with their top six players gone from the 30-4 co-Big East champs. The top returning scorer would be freshman forward Jeff Adrien (6.5 ppg).

The deadline to declare for the draft is April 29.

Gay is the 10th UConn player to declare early for the draft.
Previous players were Donyell Marshall, Ray Allen, Richard
Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor
and Charlie Villanueva.

Gay made his announcement at a news conference attended by his
family, teammates and Calhoun and the rest of the UConn staff.

Saying goodbye to his teammates was the toughest part of Gay's

"It's like a family. All the guys were there to support me,"
he said. "I will do the same for them."

Gay expects life to get really hectic

"I know it's going to get crazy now,"' he said Monday. "Now [basketball] is a job. It's something I
have to do. I have to put on my suit and tie and go to work."

The 19-year-old Gay can punch in on draft day, June 28.
First-round picks get a guaranteed two-year contract with an option
for a third. Gay is already feeling some rookie jitters.

"No matter how many people tell me what I can do, it's me
stepping into a situation, so there is going to be a little bit of
nervousness," he said. "I'm leaving school, I'm leaving a lot of
people I have good relationships with. It was a tough decision. It
took a lot of time, a lot of thought. But then again, I'm ready."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.