SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn turned pro and signed with an agent, ending his college career after two seasons and taking a top player off the Orange for the second straight year.
Jim Boeheim has gotten used to turning over talent.
"I've known pretty much for a while," Boeheim said Thursday. "He's had a tremendous career here, and I think he's going to be a tremendous player at the next level. We hate to lose him, but the opportunity that he has and will take advantage of I think is tremendous. It's a lot of money and it's hard to not take. He's been great for us and we wish him nothing but the best."
Flynn, who was not available for comment, signed with Leon Rose's Creative Artists Agency Sports.
The NBA draft will be held June 25 and the Orange's Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf also are planning to declare for the draft but have not said whether they will hire agents. Underclassmen have until April 26 to declare. If they do not hire an agent, they have until June 15 to withdraw and retain their college eligibility.
Most mock drafts show Flynn being selected in the top half of the 30-pick first round.
A year ago, 6-foot-11 Donte Greene left the Orange after one season and was selected 28th in the draft. He averaged 3.8 points per game for the Sacramento Kings, with only four starts.
"I lost a kid last year that didn't benefit. He had a bad year, didn't play. It didn't help him," Boeheim said. "You can't really tell where you're going to go in the draft, and you can't tell if it's going to be a good decision until later down the road, so it's really hard to counsel somebody."
The departure of Flynn doesn't figure to be a huge blow to the Orange's hopes for next season. Syracuse has two point guards to replace him -- Scoop Jardine, who sat out 2008-09 with a leg injury, and newcomer Brandon Triche.
"We recruited a point guard because we knew Jonny could go, so we ended up getting a great point guard. We're very happy with the kid we got," Boeheim said of Triche, a star in high school in upstate New York and the son of one of Boeheim's former players.
The 6-foot Flynn's stock soared after his performance in the Big East tournament. Despite Syracuse's loss to Louisville in the title game, Flynn was named tournament MVP, only the fourth time a player from the losing team received the award.
Still, before the NCAA tournament Flynn said he planned to return for his junior year, and that would have been a huge boon for next season. He averaged a team-leading 17 points a game and finished the season with 254 assists, the second-most for a sophomore in school history, behind only the 289 by Sherman Douglas in 1986-87.
Boeheim encouraged Flynn to investigate his pro possibilities and now loses a standout player for the second straight year.
"We'll move on. We've got some guys coming back," Boeheim said. "If we kept everybody, we'd be pretty good, but we knew we were going to lose a couple guys."
"We all think it would be better if kids either went, like [Cleveland Cavaliers star] LeBron James, right out of high school or, if you go to college, stay two or three years like they do in baseball and football. You end up gaining more," Boeheim said. "It would be better for the player, better for the NBA and it would be better for college, but I don't think we'll get there."
Boeheim has seen a lot in his 33 years as head coach of the Orange, and after being an assistant on the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Beijing last year, he knows what Flynn will be facing.
"I don't think college kids realize how tough the NBA is," Boeheim said. "There are guys that don't play in the NBA that were first-team, All-Big East first-team, All-Big Ten. I've got Jonny Flynn, who's a great guard, but when I got back from coaching Chris Paul [in the Olympics], I'm going like, 'You're not that good.' "
Wesley Johnson, who also sat out last season after transferring from Iowa State, already has played two seasons of Big Ten basketball, averaging more than 12 points a game for the Cyclones.
"We've got five guys back that played a lot ... and then we had a kid sitting out who's probably better than anybody we've got, so we're OK for next year," Boeheim said. "With Jonny Flynn, we'd probably be in the top five or six teams, but without him we drop down a little bit."