Star center wants to complete degree

Updated: April 27, 2005, 3:36 PM ET
Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. - Shelden Williams will skip this year's NBA draft and return for his senior year at Duke.

Williams, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season and a rugged inside presence who earned third-team all-America honors from The Associated Press, was considered a potential candidate for the draft.

Williams said in a statement Monday that he has decided to pursue his goal of earning a degree.

"For that reason along with others, I am going to pass on the opportunity to enter the NBA draft," Williams said in a statement. "I am looking forward to finishing off my academic career with a degree and also returning to the playing court to help Duke compete for the national championship next season."

Williams averaged 15.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots while helping Duke to a 27-6 record and the ACC tournament championship last season.

The announcement means Duke will return two first-team all-conference performers in Williams and senior J.J. Redick, and add a strong recruiting class that includes forward Josh McRoberts and guard Greg Paulus.

The news also comes just days after rival North Carolina lost juniors Sean May and Raymond Felton, as well as freshman Marvin Williams, to the NBA draft.

Another junior, Rashad McCants, has also announced that he would not return to help the Tar Heels defend their NCAA title.

The loss of the quartet alongside seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott means the Tar Heels will have to replace their top seven scorers from this year's team.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press