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McCants among four more who declare for NBA draft

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

North Carolina found out about the first of its four underclassmen who could leave school early.

Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer for the national champion Tar Heels, said Wednesday that he would apply for the NBA draft and skip his senior season.

Coach Roy Williams said McCants had his ''complete support'' in making a move the two began discussing in January.

North Carolina fans are still waiting for the decisions of juniors Sean May, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament, and Raymond Felton and freshman Marvin Williams.

Three other players said Wednesday they have applied for the draft.

Florida guards Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh will apply for the draft but will not hire agents, meaning they could return to the Gators for another season.

Indiana guard Bracey Wright, like McCants, said he will hire an agent.

Other prominent underclassmen who have declared for the draft include national player of the year Andrew Bogut of Utah, Charlie Villanueva of Connecticut, Ike Diogu of Arizona State, Kelenna Azubuike of Kentucky, Nate Robinson of Washington and Carl Krauser and Chris Taft of Pittsburgh.

Players must apply for the draft by May 14. If they don't sign with an agent they can withdraw their name by June 21, one week before the draft is held.

McCants was joined by his parents for the news conference that made official what was expected for more than a week. The day after the Tar Heels beat Illinois 75-70 for their fourth national championship, Roy Williams said he expected McCants to head for the NBA.

The 6-foot-4 swingman's scoring fell from a 20-point average as a sophomore, but his all-around game improved. He took fewer shots, increased his assist total and played better defense.

''This is a youngster who sacrificed in a lot of areas to help his team, and I think that speaks volumes,'' Williams said.

McCants finished with 1,721 points, 14th in school history.

Felton has said he has made his decision but isn't ready to announce it, Williams has said he is leaning one way and May — who has said he plans to stay to school — now says he's not sure.

If all four leave along with seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott, the Tar Heels will lose their top seven scorers.

Roberson, the second-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference last season at 17.5 points a game, agonized over whether to turn pro last year before deciding to return to Florida. He finished second in SEC player-of-the-year voting but he struggled in two NCAA tournament games, going 4-of-23 from the field, including 1-of-12 from 3-point range.

''Whether he's a first- or second-rounder I think will depend a lot on how his individual workout goes and who else decides to come out,'' Gators coach Billy Donovan said.

Walsh led the Gators in 3-point accuracy, hitting 42.6 percent, and finished second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game.

He told Donovan that he plans to return to school if he is not projected to be a first-round selection.

''I think he feels this is his opportunity to find out what he needs to improve and where he needs to get better going into this season, as well as find out what NBA general managers think of him,'' Donovan said.

The 6-foot-3 Wright led the Big Ten in scoring at 18.3 points per game as the Hoosiers finished 15-14 and missed the NCAA tournament for a second straight year.

He ends his career 15th on Indiana's all-time scoring list with 1,498 points.



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