CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington put off a jump to the NBA last season so they could improve their draft standing and make another run at a national championship.
Now with that title in hand, the juniors figure it’s the perfect time to give pro ball another try.
They announced Thursday that they would enter the draft again, ending their college careers a few weeks after leading the Tar Heels to their fifth NCAA championship.
Both players declared last year so they could work out at the predraft camp and for teams before deciding to return to school, a “testing the waters” option they can use only once.
But considering the way both performed in North Carolina’s dominating NCAA Tournament run, their departures seemed almost a certainty.
“Winning a championship definitely had a lot to do with it,” Ellington said. “There’s no better way to go out.”
Coach Roy Williams, who sat between them during the afternoon news conference, said he had spoken with 13 NBA teams to gauge where they might be drafted. He had previously said they returned because they weren’t guaranteed of being first-round picks.
“Every indication is that this is a good time,” Williams said Thursday.
“There’s no question that we loved having them. It’s been a great experience for me to watch them mature and grow.”
Lawson was a second-team All-American and unseated Tyler Hansbrough as Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
He was second on the team in scoring at nearly 17 points per game, and had 21 points and a championship game-record eight steals in the 89-72 win against Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit.
Ellington was third in scoring at about 16 points despite a shooting slump that lasted the first two months of the season.
Curry to leave Davidson
DAVIDSON, N.C. – Davidson guard Stephen Curry will skip his senior season and take his sweet shooting stroke to the NBA.
After weeks of struggling to decide, the nation’s leading scorer announced Thursday that he’ll enter the NBA draft, where he could be a lottery pick.
The 6-foot-3 Curry moved to point guard this season and averaged 28.6 points. He had 15 games of 30 or more points and three of 40 or more.
KANSAS: John Calipari’s move to Kentucky has cost him one of his prized recruits.
Oklahoma City high school star Xavier Henry announced Thursday that he would not follow Calipari after he left Memphis, and committed instead to play at Kansas.
MARYLAND: Guard Greivis Vasquez will enter his name in the NBA draft, but because he has not hired an agent could return for his senior year with the Terrapins.
The 6-6 Vasquez averaged 17.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game for the Terps this season and served as the team’s emotional leader.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: Isiah Thomas will make $1.29 million in base salary and bonuses from Florida International if he stays at the school for five seasons.
That figure doesn’t include incentives and variable compensation that the former New York Knicks coach and president could receive, such as bonuses for championships and strong academic achievement by his team.