Declaring for June’s NBA draft can only help Arizona sophomore Chase Budinger, his father believes.
“Chase is using this as an opportunity to go out and see and hear from the pros,” Duncan Budinger said in a phone interview Tuesday, “to see how his game can be improved at the college and pro level.”
Whether the 6-foot-7 forward stays in the draft – he hasn’t hired an agent, allowing him to come back to Arizona – depends on how high his first-round stock is.
NBA draft analyst Chris Monter said Budinger “is potentially a first-rounder” because of his offensive skills, but “he obviously needs to work on defense.”
“Who does he guard at the NBA level?” Monter asked.
Budinger scored 23 points but had trouble defending in UA’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to West Virginia. In the NBA, he would play shooting guard or small forward.
“It’s always been my goal to play in the NBA,” Budinger said in a news release. “I feel like I need to take the next step to be able to do that. This is a good time for me to get some feedback.”
Some mock drafts have Budinger going as high as No. 13, which would be a lottery pick, but Monter said freshmen such as Arizona’s Jerryd Bayless are getting most of the buzz.
If Budinger came back to UA, he could work on being a shooting guard now that Bayless is headed to the NBA. Incoming freshman guard Brandon Jennings and Nic Wise are more playmakers, although both also can shoot well.
Duncan Budinger, who lives in San Diego, met with UA coach Lute Olson on Monday about his son’s future. “We had a great conversation and talked about . . . how next season could look (at UA),” the father said.
Trent Suzuki, Budinger’s longtime personal trainer and family friend, said the player has “no ulterior motive” in declaring for the draft “other than he wants to take advantage of the process of where he fits and go from there.”
“There’s no clear-cut timetable when Chase will decide to either stay or head into the draft,” Suzuki said. “It’ll be clearer when he gets the feedback he needs.”
The father said Budinger is “not in a hurry.” The draft is June 26; players must decide by June 16 whether to stay in the draft.
NBA DRAFT DEADLINES
• April 27: Early entry eligibility
• June 16: Early entry withdrawal
• June 26: NBA draft, New York