Center set to enter NBA draft after hiring agent

Updated: May 8, 2008, 11:11 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Shawn James, the shot-blocking center who was one of five Duquesne University basketball players shot on campus in September 2006, is passing up his senior season to enter the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-10 James previously submitted his name as an early entry to the draft but had not signed with an agent until doing so Thursday with Steve Cronin. Hiring an agent eliminates any chance of James playing again in college.

"Shawn's a great kid and I wish him great success as a pro," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said Thursday night, confirming James' departure, which was first reported by insidehoops.com. "Nobody deserves more success than Shawn James."

James, who turns 25 in September, played two seasons under Everhart at Northeastern before sitting out the 2006-07 season to transfer to Duquesne. During that redshirt season, James was shot in the left foot following an on-campus party on Sept. 16, 2006. Four other teammates at the time were also shot.

After having foot surgery, James returned last season to average 12.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.0 blocked shots per game, or 2.5 blocks per game fewer than he did while leading the nation in 2005-06 at Northeastern. His 196 blocks that season were the second-most in NCAA history. He had 111 last season.

The 225-pound James had a difficult adjustment at times to the more competitive and physical Atlantic 10 Conference and was not as dominant inside as he was while winning two conference defensive player of the year awards at Northeastern.

James was also unhappy with the rotation system Everhart used early in the season that required him to split time with 6-10 senior Kieron Achara. James averaged 23.8 minutes per game last season, down from 27.7 at Northeastern in 2005-06.

James did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press.

Given James' lack of a physical presence last season, it seems unlikely he will be drafted any higher than late in the second round, if he is drafted.

James was working out with the Dukes as of several weeks ago, but Everhart was anticipating his decision to turn pro. James is getting married in the fall and, because he is older than most college players, wants to begin a pro career now.

"It's always disappointing when a player doesn't come back, but there are not too many big guys in college basketball as talented and agile as Shawn James," Everhart said. "I certainly understand his decision. I wish him well and everybody at Duquesne wishes him well, because he's a person who deserves to have a lot of success."

James' decision leaves Duquesne without a starting center for the 2008-09 season.

Duquesne guard Kojo Mensah, a close friend of his teammate who grew up in Brooklyn along with James, also submitted his name for the NBA draft but has not hired an agent.

Mensah, who averaged 12.1 points while shooting only 38.1 percent last season after transferring from Siena, is almost certain to go undrafted.

Mensah (left arm, shoulder) was also one of the Duquesne players shot, as was guard Aaron Jackson (hand). Forward Stuard Baldonado (back, arm) left school last fall without playing for Duquesne, and forward Sam Ashaolu (head) has returned to school but is not playing.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press