Hendrix To Learn All He Can About NBA Draft

Evidence indicates Alabama basketball star Richard Hendrix only recently decided to enter his name into the 2008 NBA draft, but keep his option "as of right now" to return to the Crimson Tide for his senior season.

To the surprise of no one, Richard Hendrix made that announcement in a meeting with the media on Wednesday afternoon. His Alabama coach, Mark Gottfried, as also there.

Hendrix, a 6-9, 255-pound All-Southeastern Conference performer this season, said he made his decision regarding the NBA draft during spring break, which was last week.

It's possible that Hendrix was not discussion the situation with his roommate, Alabama walk-on Greg Cage. That's because the two of them obviously spend their time studying. For the first time in Crimson Tide basketball history there will be a man earning his degree in only three years time. In fact, there will be two of them: Hendrix and Cage.

Cage was earlier reported as giving up his final season of basketball eligibility in order to enter law school at The University.

Hendrix is going to gather as much information as he can before he makes his next step. He said on several occasions in Wednesday's media event that he "hoped for the best" and that his longtime goal had been to go to "the next level."

Hendrix, a native of Athens, is the son of teachers and he has two older sisters who are graduates of The University of Alabama. "Coming from an education family, with parents who are teachers, it was always a goal to earn my degree," Hendrix said. "I will continue to focus on academics and continue to make good grades and I will graduate in May."

As for earning his degree in communications in only three years, Hendrix said, "It just sort of snuck up on me. Time flies."

A college player has one opportunity to make the text that Hendrix will make this spring. As long as he does not sign with an agent, he has the option to return to college basketball provided he removes his name from the NBA draft list 10 days before the draft, which is in late June.

Gottfried said his role is helping Hendrix get as much information as possible before Hendrix makes his decision. To that end Gottfried talks to the "decision-makers" on NBA teams – presidents and general managers. It is well established that agents will tell a player anything. The NBA executives, Gottfried said, "don't want to see a player make a mistake. They want to see success stories." Gottfried said those executives "will be honest" on whether Hendrix is a lottery pick, a first round or a second round."

Hendrix said he would listen to Gottfried's advice.

In the past, some players have left school early for hopes of an NBA career only to find themselves unable to make it at that level. "I can't let what has happened to other players play into my decision," Hendrix said. "I think I am capable of playing at a high level and can play against anyone."

He said he would continue to work hard "on academics and basketball." He will work out with Alabama strength coaches. After graduation he will be able to attend a pre-draft camp.

Gottfried said it is possible that other upcoming seniors on the team (presumably meaning Alonzo Gee) might also want to explore their draft possibilities.

Hendrix said his parents would offer advice, then let Richard made the decision and they would support whatever that decision is.

He said that his Alabama teammates also support him. As for those teammates, Hendrix said he will continue to work hard to get better whether he enters the draft or whether he returns for his senior year.

Alabama loses only one senior from this year's team, wing guard Mykal Riley, and the Tide returns All-America candidate Ronald Steele at point guard.

Hendrix averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as a junior, the only man in the SEC to average a double double. He led Bama in both categories and tied for the SEC lead in rebounding.

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