- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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The high school class of 2004 dominated the NBA draft like no other after eight players were selected in the first 19 picks.
A total of 13 high school seniors declared, although four withdrew from the draft. That meant only one of the nine high school seniors who declared went undrafted in 2004.
Well, the class of 2005, which wasn't considered to be remotely close in NBA-ready talent, has nearly matched its predecessor with 11 players declaring as of late Friday night -- 24 hours before Saturday's deadline.
The latest might just be a player who could make a play for a possible first-round spot.
Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com that Connecticut signee, 7-foot, 300-pound Andrew Bynum of New Jersey, has declared for the NBA draft. Bynum notified the UConn staff Friday of his intentions. Bynum won't sign with an agent, allowing him the possibility to retain his amateur status. Bynum joined two other early-entrants Friday -- Duke junior Shavlik Randolph and LSU sophomore Brandon Bass -- to push the overall number to 53 underclassmen entering the draft, so far.
Sources said Bynum, who was projected to be one of the Huskies' top big men next season, is planning on holding one or two workouts in New Jersey with the hope that a number of teams will watch. High school seniors have more freedom then college underclassmen in the draft process. They can have NBA teams pay for their visits while college underclassmen can only receive expenses for the NBA-sponsored Chicago pre-draft camp in June if they are invited. Any workouts in NBA cities must be paid for in advance by college underclassmen, although there is the possibility of using an NCAA special assistance fund if a player applies in advance, according to Illinois coach Bruce Weber.
Bynum joins a growing list of high school seniors who have declared but not signed with an agent. The others are: Martell Webster (Washington), Gerald Green (Oklahoma State), C.J. Miles (Texas), Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M), Louis Williams (Georgia), Brandon Rush (unsigned), Keith Brumbaugh (unsigned) and Amir Johnson (Louisville). Monta Ellis (Mississippi State) and Andray Blatche (unsigned) were both expected to stay in the draft and formally sign with agents. Green and Webster are projected as possible lottery picks meaning they would likely stay in the draft and sign with an agent.
A high school senior can go through the draft, get picked and still go to college if he doesn't retain an agent. But the team that drafts him owns his rights at the spot he was selected until a year after his eligibility expires. All of these draft rules are subject to change once the new collective bargaining agreement is signed whenever the NBA and NBAPA come to an agreement.
Sources close to a number of the high school players say that the potential for an age minimum requirement could have pushed these players to declare.
Meanwhile, Bynum's departure leaves a hole at UConn. The Huskies, who already lost sophomore Charlie Villanueva to the draft, will have four post players for next season: Josh Boone, Ed Nelson, Hilton Armstrong and newcomer Jeff Adrien. One source close to the situation said the Huskies would likely add another big body over the summer for next season if Bynum were to stay in the draft. The Huskies want five post players going into the season.
Connecticut, which could be the preseason No. 1 or 2 team in the country, could have lost as many five underclassmen to the draft but Boone, wing Rudy Gay and point guard Marcus Williams opted to stay.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
8dEthan Sherwood Strauss