- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Barring an injury in the next two weeks, Ohio State freshman guard Daequan Cook will sign with agent Mike Conley Sr. and stay in the NBA draft.
Cook told ESPN.com Wednesday night at the pre-draft camp that he intended on staying in the draft and signing with Conley after the withdrawal date of June 18. The only reason he hasn't done it yet is as a safety net just in case he were to get hurt in the next few weeks.
Teammate and classmate Mike Conley Jr. is doing the same thing, opting not to sign with his father until after the withdrawal date just in case he were to suffer what his father termed a few weeks ago "a catastrophic injury." Conley Jr. is here as part of the physical-only group of players, whereas Cook is playing in the camp.
"Right now, I'm all the way in," Cook said. "There's no question [he's staying in the draft] unless an injury comes up. Right now it's just in case anything could happen until June 18 so you have to be ready for anything."
Once Cook and Conley sign with Conley Sr. and ultimately the BDA Management run by Bill Duffy (for whom Conley decided to work recently), then Ohio State will have lost three-fifths of the Thad Five recruiting class that Ohio State coach Thad Matta brought in this season to help lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten regular-season and tournament title and eventually the national title game, where they lost to Florida. Greg Oden, projected to be the No. 1 pick, has already signed with Conley/Duffy.
"I'm very comfortable [with Conley Sr.] since I've been around him since the seventh grade," Cook said. "I trust him. I already know who I'm going to sign with so that's a big reason [not to rush to sign with an agent]."
Cook is projected as the one likely lock in this camp to go in the first round, regardless of how he plays here. In his first game Wednesday, Cook was a modest 3-of-10, 0-for-1 on 3s, for six points and four rebounds. Cook also committed eight turnovers in 20 minutes.
But a number of NBA personnel told ESPN.com that Cook's play wouldn't necessarily change their minds on whether he was a first-round pick. Cook agrees that the camp shouldn't determine his place after his freshman season.
"I'm getting the vibe that I'm a first-round pick but I've got to prove it to myself and to the scouts that I'm a first-round pick," Cook said.
Eleven players chose to pull out of the pre-draft camp Monday. But Cook chose to stick it out and play something that should ultimately help him since some teams are down on players who choose not to put themselves in position to be tested if they're on the fence for the first round.
"I'm committed to this game and I love to play and want to play at the highest level," Cook said. "This is my opportunity to show that I can play. I'm confident that I'm going to play and be a dominant player."
Cook's minutes diminished toward the end of the season. He finished as the fourth-leading scorer on the team at 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 41.5 percent on 3s.
Cook started the season on a torrid streak, scoring in double figures in seven of the first eight games (Oden missed the first seven with a right wrist injury). He scored in double figures in 11 of the Buckeyes' first 15 games. But he scored in double figures in only five of their final 24 games. He had his only single-digit-minute games in the NCAA Tournament, playing eight against Tennessee in the Sweet 16, seven against Georgetown in the national semifinal and nine in the title game against Florida.
"It was frustrating but it was good for me and I learned a lot," Cook said. "I was playing a role and made a sacrifice since I wasn't the veteran player like Ron [Lewis] or Jamar [Butler]. I understand why coach [Matta] played them down the stretch. We were winning games and went to the national championship game, so there wasn't a lot I could say."
Cook, who said he will work out for seven teams Tuesday in the Orlando area before a workout next week in Phoenix, said he has no regrets.
"There were a lot of doubters feeling that we were too young and not mature enough to go as far as we did," Cook said. "We proved them wrong with our team chemistry with a great point guard in Mike and Greg inside and the rest of us being role players.
"I feel confident about the team coming in next year at Ohio State," Cook said. "They'll be young like we were this year and there were be a lot of opportunities for guys now."
Cook's departure means Ohio State will have lost five of their top six scorers from the national runner-up, similar to champion Florida, which lost its top six scorers (four juniors who declared for the draft and two seniors). Ohio State will lose three freshmen and two seniors (Lewis and Ivan Harris). The top returning scorer will be Butler, who averaged 8.5 points and 3.6 assists as a junior.
Earlier Wednesday, Fresno State junior forward Dominic McGuire told ESPN.com at the pre-draft camp that he was going to sign with an agent and stay in the NBA draft.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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