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Longhorns G Tucker signs with agent

5/18/2006 - Texas Longhorns

P.J. Tucker figured out the NBA draft process fairly early: if you're going to give it a shot it's better to jump in without any restrictions.

So, to no one's real surprise, Tucker has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility at Texas and sign with an agent.

Tucker told ESPN.com Thursday that he has signed with agent Leon Rose and will not return for his senior season.

"I'm leaving,'' Tucker said from Chicago where he's using it as his base during the draft process. "It's a done deal. If you don't hire an agent, it's too costly to do it without breaking any of the rules. Either you should do it or don't.''

The NCAA forbids underclassmen from accepting money from NBA teams at the risk of forfeiting games the ensuing season if the player chooses to return. The Orlando pre-draft camp, which Tucker said he's still unsure whether he will play in next month, is the only workout the NBA is allowed to pay for for an underclassman who hasn't signed with an agent.

Tucker, who was named the Big 12 player of the year, led the Longhorns (30-7) to the Elite Eight and a share of the Big 12 regular-season title with Kansas. The 6-foot-5 Tucker led the Longhorns in scoring at 16.1 points and 9.5 boards a game.

Tucker said he has worked out at Cleveland and will have more workouts scheduled in the coming weeks. He said he has been told he is projected as a late first-round pick with the chance to move up or even down if he doesn't perform well.

"Obviously I haven't taken too many long-range shots in college so I've got to do that to show them I can be a consistent shooter,'' said Tucker, who was versatile with Texas but did most of his scoring in the lane.

Tucker joins sophomore center LaMarcus Aldridge, who signed with an agent, in the draft from Texas. A third Longhorn, sophomore point guard Daniel Gibson, declared but hasn't signed with an agent yet.

If Gibson stays in the draft, then Texas would lose its top five scorers. That list includes seniors Kenton Paulino and Brad Buckman. The top returning scorer would be rising sophomore point A.J. Abrams (6.4 ppg). The Longhorns are also losing sophomore reserve forward Mike Williams, who is transferring, possibly to Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Texas is bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, led by wing Kevin Durant, whom scouts.com ranks second in the class of 2006.

Tucker is the latest of a number of underclassmen who declared and initially didn't say that they would sign with an agent but then did anyway. The others recently were: Rutgers' Quincy Douby and Iowa State's Will Blalock.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.