Fazekas to withdraw from draft, return to Nevada

Updated: June 9, 2006, 7:23 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Nevada coach Mark Fox never envisioned that Nick Fazekas would withdraw from the draft.

He didn't recruit that way.

He didn't schedule that way.

But he wasn't about to close the door when the 6-foot-11 Fazekas walked into his office Friday to tell him of his decision.

"I never thought he'd be back," Fox told ESPN.com earlier Friday. "I told all my assistants to recruit expecting him not to be back."

Fazekas becomes the second underclassman to withdraw from the NBA draft, joining Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe.

Fazekas worked out for only two teams -- the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. A nagging injury (tendinitis) started to bother him recently, preventing him from properly working out.

"I have mixed feelings because I know it was his dream, it's just being put off a year," Fox said.

Fazekas averaged 21.8 points and 10.4 rebounds a game last season in leading the Wolf Pack (27-5, 13-3) to the WAC title and the NCAA Tournament first round (lost to Montana). Still, he wasn't able to create the kind of buzz necessary to stay in the draft. He was billed as a second-round pick. He chose not to attend the Orlando predraft camp.

"I thought it was a dream I was destined to do. I thought I was good enough to haven been higher in the draft,'' Fazekas said at a news conference Friday. "I probably haven't put forth my greatest effort to be the best player I can be. I've got so many places I can improve."

Fox said the academic ineligibility for the fall semester of rising senior Demarshay Johnson (5 ppg) won't be as hard a hit now that Fazekas is returning. Fox still scheduled three difficult road games in Gonzaga (Seattle), Cal (Oakland in the Pete Newell Challenge) and at Oregon State. But he didn't make a push to feature the Wolf Pack even more because he said he thought Fazekas wouldn't return.

"What this does is put us right back in the mix to make another run," Fox said of winning the WAC for a third straight season and make a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Nevada was in the Sweet 16 in 2004.

The deadline to pull out of the June 28 draft is June 18. Fazekas, who was selected as a third-team All-American this season, entered the draft in April but said he was not hiring an agent so he could return to school if it appeared he would not be drafted in the first round.

School officials announced Friday morning that Fazekas and Fox would appear at a 5 p.m. ET news conference at the Lawlor Events Center to discuss his decision regarding his status in the NBA draft.

Fazekas considered entering the draft a year ago but said the NBA advisory board indicated to him and Fox at that time that he likely would have been a second-round pick if he'd entered the 2005 NBA draft.

"It's a waste of time for me to go in the second round. You are not guaranteed anything in the second round," he told reporters in April when he announced he would test the waters this year.

"More than likely, if I'm not a first-round pick then you'll probably see me back here," Fazekas said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com